DSV – Bringing the Green Revolution to Logistics

We learn how strong leadership is guiding a green vision at DSV.

Whether it is air, sea or land, DSV is a freight forwarding and shipping company that has got the whole world covered. With more than 60,000 people spread across more than 80 countries and a strong, local entrepreneurial DNA. DSV’s considerable size gives the company a global scale and reach, with strong operational excellence in its business processes.

This helps us deliver high-quality services to our customers on time, all the time while maintaining our competitiveness,” explains DSV Panalpina’s Senior Director Sustainability, Lindsay Zingg. “We know businesses need reliability to ensure that their customer relationships work, and so we harness our people, technology and infrastructure to prepare for any eventuality.”

What really makes the company stand out, however, is the sheer dedication and effort the company puts into sustainability and green business, for both itself and its customers. DSV

“We’re finding many businesses that will only work with companies that have a sustainability logistics programme,” explains Zingg. “We have to change how we do business to support customers with green procurement. Even when we purchase or rent buildings, we make decisions based on if it is a green building. Even for employees, the younger ones want to work for a company that takes climate change seriously. It’s a key aspect of the business.”

Zingg argues that the way things are going, having environmentally sound business practices won’t just be a USP for a business, but a must-have.

“Simply speaking we won’t gain customers business without it,” she says. “If you’re not green you’re not regarded as an ethical company. From a legislation perspective, governments are pushing for this as well. In five years I think if you’ve not got green offerings you won’t even get to tender. Many companies are asking ‘What’s your green model?’ before you even talk pricing. If you cannot help companies reduce their CO2, they won’t want to work with you.”

These are all very good incentives to pursue a green agenda, but Zingg points out that none of these is the reason sustainability is such a priority for DSV Panalpina.

“I spoke to our CEO and he said it’s not just for our customers, and it’s not just because of legislation,” she says. “He said ‘We do this for DSV Panalpina as I want our company to be a green company.’”

A Scientific Process

What makes DSV’s efforts here so crucial is that they’re not guided by PR or an attempt to “greenwash” the brand, but by the measures that evidence says will have the greatest impact.

By 2030, DSV Panalpina commits to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from a 2019 base year and to reduce absolute scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 30% over the same target period. Scope 1 and 2 refer to direct emissions, e.g. from buildings and company cars, while scope 3 refers to emissions from freight transports – including subcontracted transports.

As CEO Jens Bjørn Andersen points out “These ambitious targets are going to guide our sustainability efforts for years to come, and it will require a committed effort from the whole DSV Panalpina organisation to achieve them.”

The company has a range of activities planned to reduce its emissions, including new policies for company cars and buildings, and they’re going to continue working closely with their customers and suppliers to drive down emissions from transport activities.

“We have got a portfolio of projects that support our science-based targets. We’re one of the first logistics companies with targets like that, and it drives our projects and measures in DSV,” Zingg says. “One example is we operate green procurement guidelines. When we procure an aircraft, carrier, or other vehicles we aim to source the best carrier or truck in class.

DSVDSV Panalpina has joined forces with other leading Danish companies on an ambitious sustainable fuel project.

The partnership with Copenhagen Airports, Maersk, DFDS, Ørsted and SAS aims is to decarbonize heavy transport and it’s the first partnership of its kind to develop an industrial scale production facility to produce green fuels for road, maritime and air transport in the Copenhagen area.

We also have many projects  in the pipeline for our internal environmental impacts, such as green car policy, green buildings, recycling, plastic initiatives, everything to support our targets internally. It’s business, procurement, building and the employees. All aspects of the business.”

This approach also drives innovation within the company, as staff come up with new ways of doing business that can be greener and more cost-effective. Of course, ensuring the staff are engaged with that vision at every level is a task in itself.

“We have a code of conduct that all 60,000 employees must sign and within that, there is a huge section on sustainability and the environment, and breeching that will result in a warning,” Zingg makes clear. “Finally, we have health, safety and environmental ambassadors, taking our corporate programme to every single country we operate in. If we don’t meet our scientific-based targets its escalated to the Sustainability Board chaired by the CEO. We need all employees on board, and get the message out through newsletters, communication and training.”

The Sustainability Lessons of a Lockdown

Of course, while DSV Panalpina and businesses like it have been working hard to transform the way they do business, this year world events have forced every business to make drastic changes to the way they work. While it’s been a brutal challenge, in many ways it has also demonstrated what is possible.

“Positively we have really learned to work differently,” Zingg reflects. “Globally many of our employees have had to do home office, we’re learning to work in a different way.  Our Chief Commercial Officer is driving the account management team to see how they can manage customer relationships without travelling, and we’re hoping companies take notice and say ‘We can do business this way’.”

While other businesses might see this as a reason to cut costs, DSV is taking precisely the opposite lesson. “Our CEO has said frequently that sustainability is still top of the agenda. It does not go away because of COVID-19,” Zingg says. “The crisis does have a financial impact on the company but nothing has changed with our sustainability strategy. I think it would be sad if companies don’t take this momentum.”

Indeed, Zingg acknowledges that the crisis has shown even a sustainability-driven company like DSV Panalpina can reassess some things. “We were going to implement a revised travel policy, but we want to take our lessons from the lockdown before rolling it out. We will take the lessons learned and implement the travel policy only once we gather that information,” she insists.

Looking beyond Coronavirus, Zingg believes the future will see Increased consumer scrutiny of the company’s green practices, with the market already seeing a rapidly growing market of rating companies.

“An important part of any green strategy is that governance for sustainability needs to be led by the CEO and ours is leading it with a designated board on all the topics,” Zingg says. “We need to have that strong lead by our CEO or it doesn’t work.”

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