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interview
In Dialogue with Logistics

Sustainability on the last mile

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Climate change or climate crisis?

Fact: In order to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate goals, major efforts are required that can only be managed jointly. On the way to climate neutrality, companies must overcome many hurdles and not shy away from new technologies. Sören Lauenstein, Head of Sustainability at Rhenus Home Delivery, knows that implementing sustainable measures is not a sprint. In this interview, he reports on how logistics service providers can become more sustainable on the last mile.

Editorial department: Mr Lauenstein, for a long time, sustainability was somewhat neglected in many companies. Why has the topic become so important for many of them now?

Sören Lauenstein: It is true that the importance of sustainability has been underestimated in many places. The fact that the topic has now been brought into focus is a welcome development and addresses the need to save finite resources. This is certainly also thanks to a growing awareness of ecological concerns within society – not least through global initiatives such as Fridays for Future. Even within the economy, sustainability is no longer just ‘nice to have’, but rather a matter of course. Green logistics has become a key requirement of our customers, one which they actively demand.

Editorial department: What goals has your company set itself in terms of sustainability?

Sören Lauenstein: We want to get closer to climate neutrality, step-by-step. Our corporate goal is to significantly reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2025 – by two thirds, in fact. However, we will only achieve this goal through a great number of individual measures that will affect our fleet, on the one hand, and our locations, on the other.

Editorial department​​​​​​​: What adjustments have you already made and where do you still see a need for action?

Sören Lauenstein: Since 2019, all our locations in Germany have been audited in accordance with the energy management standard DIN EN ISO 50001. In 2020, we gradually began to connect our German branches to the green power grid. The last location was finally switched over at the beginning of 2021. At the same time, we replaced our light bulbs with energy-saving LEDs. We also strive to save as much paper and energy as possible. These sound like small steps, but they all add up. Starting this year, when we move into new properties, we make sure they meet the requirements for photovoltaic systems – for example, at our modern site at Lutterworth, UK, and in our new building in Hilden.

Editorial department​​​​​​​: Beyond saving energy at your sites, what CO2 reduction measures are you implementing with respect to your fleet?

Sören Lauenstein: This is where we see a particularly high potential for savings. If we look at our CO2 emissions, 80 per cent are caused by the use of diesel trucks for last-mile deliveries. We have already been intensively involved in many field trials with e-trucks in recent years, for example with the Maxus, Orten and Quantron brands. In addition, our subsidiary has tested e-cargo bikes from ONO, Citkar and ANTRIC. This summer we ordered around 60 e-Sprinters and want to convert our fleet to a total of 150 e-vehicles next year.

Editorial department​​​​​​​: So, will you be relying entirely on electric drives in the future?

Sören Lauenstein: No, we are open to the use of different technologies. However, due to the infrastructure and range, our focus is certainly on e-drives. But I am also very curious to see what experiences we will soon gain with our first hydrogen truck, since hydrogen fuel cells also give us the opportunity to further reduce our CO2 footprint.

Editorial department​​​​​​​: Can you explain to us exactly how you measure CO2 emissions?

Sören Lauenstein: Simply put, we measure the distances our vehicles travel to the end customer and calculate the CO2 footprint per consignment on this basis. In this way, we enable our clients to get an overview of the carbon dioxide produced by the consignments we deliver for them. But then we go one step further by presenting the entire CO2 value of our company – because this is the only way to get a comprehensive picture. It also helps us to identify and implement our potential for improvement.

Editorial department​​​​​​​: Can consumers, who have ordered goods, also financially offset their delivery themselves if they wish?

Sören Lauenstein: Even though our main goal is decarbonisation, we offer consumers the opportunity to offset the CO2 emissions of their deliveries via the non-profit MyClimate foundation. This offset flows into various climate protection projects.

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