The Role of Transport in Spadel’s Carbon Strategy

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looking beyond a 20% reduction

As one of the four pillars underpinning our new CSR Strategy 2025, Local contributes towards achieving our carbon reduction goals. A short supply chain means less transport which in turn means less emissions. Even so, there are still wins to be made when it comes to getting our products out there explain Jo Swennen, Group Supply Chain & Procurement Director and Laurent Fanielle, Logistic Manager Belux

With transport accounting for some 40% of our total carbon emissions, it has been a major focal point for Spadel over the years. It is also why we decided to focus on remaining a local player and work with local transport companies. The reasoning behind this is simple: the more kilometres you drive, the more carbon you emit. In 2019, Spadel was awarded its first star under the Lean & Green programme, which stimulates transport and logistics companies to improve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint by 20%.

Lean & Green

“To achieve the Lean & Green ranking we were given five years to reduce our transport footprint by 20%,” says Jo Swennen. “We were proud to have achieved a 22,9% reduction in just four short years, in large part thanks to our transport partners. We mostly work with smaller, family owned logistics companies and although they were initially hesitant to commit to a 20% reduction, we were able to convince them by turning the premise around: if you reduce your carbon footprint, you use less diesel which means you lower your costs. In return, we agreed we would not ask them to reduce their prices in line with their fuel savings.”

“Furthermore, we spent a lot of time sharing best practices and talking about other ways in which our partners could reduce their footprint,” adds Laurent Fanielle. “Driving with the correct tire pressure equals a 2-3% saving and defensive driving (anticipating traffic and keeping a steady speed) can even lead to a 7-8% saving in emissions. These all seem like small actions, but together they really do add up.”

Modal Shift

So is electric driving the solution? Not so much says Jo: “The batteries needed to power electric trucks are very heavy, which means they reduce practical load. And of course they are only as clean as the electricity they are charged with, much like hydrogen. We are all looking forward to the arrival of efficient hydrogen engines, but it’s important to realise that the only clean hydrogen is powered by windmills (as opposed to grey hydrogen, which is powered by gas or coal), so it will take a few years to get there.”

A full modal shift to waterways or rail isn’t on the cards either, although extensive trials have been run in collaboration with other drinks manufacturers. The Dutch Drankenboot was launched last year to much critical acclaim, but the cost was too high and flexibility too low. “Customers don’t want to keep large stocks, they want to be able to order in line with sales and waiting for a weekly train or boat simply isn’t feasible for FMCGs. Similarly, Spa and Bru aren’t located near the main waterways, so we still need to get our stock from our sites to Liege by road and then again from Spa Monopole to the customer. The modal shift is only truly complete when you are located near these facilities.”

“With transport accounting for some 40% of our total carbon emissions, it has been a major focal point for Spadel over the years. It is also why we decided to focus on remaining a local player and work with local transport companies.”

2021 Focal Points

The ecocombi truck, or Langere en Zwaardere Vrachtautocombinatie (LZV), is a common sight in The Netherlands. Although it can carry up to 60 tonnes instead of the standard 50 tonnes, its fuel consumption barely increases, which reduces emissions per pallet by 20%. “We already transport a large percentage of our Dutch stock by ecocombi and are delivering to some of the main Flemish supermarket chains with them, but in Wallonia there is still some hesitation towards allowing these larger trucks on the road. We are keen to get these trucks authorised nationally as they mean a great improvement in terms of emissions and sustainability,” adds Laurent.

Photovoltaic cells and an automated loading system powered by solar cells mean all onsite transport at the Spa and Bru distribution centres is fully electric, removing carbon emissions entirely. Ensuring trucks are optimally loaded and planning round trips instead of letting empty trucks arrive on site are other ways in which Spadel has managed to lower its overall emissions. But our next big focal point is implementing a transport management system concludes Laurent: “From managing factory workload to optimising loads and finetuning deliveries, we are closely working with our customers and partners to gain insight into how our transport flows. We look forward to seeing where there is room for further improvement and how we can create even more positive impact on our carbon footprint.”

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