The express overnight network operated by Sovereign Speed, a specialist in the fast transportation of express and other urgent consignments, is now climate neutral. This is achieved by offsetting the CO2 emissions of its vehicles through reforestation projects in Uruguay and Peru. Leading auditor and certifier of decarbonization initiatives, ClimatePartner is responsible for the project’s compliance with international quality standards.
Around 5,500 tons of CO2 were being emitted each year by the vehicles serving Sovereign Speed's European linehaul network along with warehouse emissions, internal data shows. So far, the company
is the only one in the logistics industry that monitors the released greenhouse gases right down to shipment level. “That's why we know the exact amount of CO2 we are constantly setting
free,” says Frank Liebelt (FL), MD of the Sovereign Group.
In view of these emissions and motivated by its own staff as well as some of its core customers, the company has decided to reinforce its climate friendly course and operate sustainably. “It took us 1.5 years to find the most appropriate solution to becoming carbon neutral in future, mainly thanks to Moritz Toelke, our driving force when it comes to sustainability, and the support of our entire staff,” the manager applauds.
CFG: Why did you choose two projects in South America to neutralize CO2 gases, and none in Europe, Sovereign Speed's home market?
FL: Unfortunately, there are very few reforestation projects in the EU that are worth being certified according to international quality criteria. Of course, we could have bought a few hectares of land and planted trees there. However, in addition to offsetting our CO2 consumption, we intend to show our customers an internationally recognized seal from a renowned certifier to demonstrate the seriousness of our actions. We also believe that core clients such as DHL, Kuehne+Nagel, and others who also pursue a very consistent environmental strategy, want to have proof of the results of our actions. Additionally, this might trigger their customers to follow suit and decarbonize the entire supply chain from beginning to end.
CFG: Did certifier ClimatePartner propose the 2 projects in Latin America or how did you come to pick them?
FL: We were offered 10 different options. Of these, 5 made it to the short list after internal company evaluations. Our employees were then asked to vote on these via our internal channel, and the two projects in Uruguay and Peru came out on top.
CFG: Becoming climate neutral costs money. Who bears the extra costs?
FL: That's right, we're talking about a five-figure euro amount. The additional expenditures are priced into our transport rates, so they are not shown separately to the market. We want to engage this topic pro-actively and be a first mover, which fits in with our premium product strategy and sends a clear signal to our stakeholders and the industry. In future, our customers will receive monthly reports showing how much CO2 was emitted for the transport of their shipments in our network, and subsequently offset. Since our entire fleet is equipped with on-board telematics enabling utmost data transparency, we will be able to use primary data to report CO2 emissions on a shipment level. This combination of detailed emission reporting and carbon neutrality is our USP.
Leasing beats buying - environmentally
Since its founding in 1998, Sovereign has had a clear commitment to quality and sustainable business practices. The Hamburg, Germany-based logistics service provider has always tried to minimize its fleet’s fuel burn and reduce its carbon footprint, by optimizing the network and fleet operation. For instance, all trucks and courier vehicles are leased and returned to the lessor after three years in use, exchanging them for newer, more fuel-efficient models. The vehicles operated within the network conform with the EURO 6 exhaust emission standard and belong to the best in class.
Simultaneously to its own climate advance, Sovereign intends to encourage its customers to also opt for sustainable transport solutions. This way, a stand-alone initiative could become a broader, industry-wide effort, Hendrik Bender, Senior Director Business Development & Marketing at Sovereign, expects:
“We are currently evaluating, internally and externally, a number of innovative concepts in cooperation with renowned institutions and some customers, to make the future of logistics more digital, efficient, and greener.” The manager goes on to say: “Simultaneously, we look forward to working more closely with our partners on climate-friendly solutions in the future.” That said, he welcomes initiatives and suggestions from the market to further improve the supply chain and make both road and air transportation more eco-friendly.
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