In May 2010, TNT in the UK and Ireland became the first express operator to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standard – the official certification of a company’s commitment to successfully measuring, managing and reducing its carbon footprint.
It followed an assessment of the company’s carbon [performance over a three year period, during which TNT cut its carbon footprint by 3%. TNT UK and Ireland plays a crucial role in the company’s global carbon reduction programme ‘Planet Me’ which is on track to improve CO2 efficiency by 40% by 2020.
It’s no accident that, when you peel back the famous orange skin of express delivery giant TNT, you find its core to be bright green.
Collective action and a deep-rooted commitment, has put sustainability at the heart of our operation, along with our promise to deliver value, reliability and quality to our customers world-wide.
The seed lies in our 30 year-history of supporting our core values by being an early adopter of the latest, best practice tools, methodologies and standards and our realisation that environmental performance and economic success are now inherently linked.
Since 1978 we’ve won literally hundreds of independent accreditations including Investor in People awards, more than 30 Motor Transport Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the transport industry – and last year the Carbon Trust Standard. It’s not the glory we’re after, it’s the knowledge we acquire on the journey and the independent verification of our achievements.
In each case there is a strong commercial incentive behind our pursuit of excellence. In terms of our sustainability programme and pledge to cut our own C02 emissions by 40% by 2020, it’s the ability this gives us to not only cut costs and help the environment but enhance our commercial appeal. By adding ‘sustainability’ to our offering – alongside our promise to deliver value, reliability and quality – we distinguish our service and give our customers another reason to choose TNT over and above our competitors.
And it’s an approach that’s paying dividends in the form of a host of new business wins. One of the reasons UK stationer, Staples, has just appointed us as its preferred supplier was our ability to add integrity and impetus to its own environmental performance.
Helping our customers to reduce their carbon footprint is our latest challenge. That’s why we’ll soon be launching ‘System CO2’; which will inform our UK and global customers of the CO2 footprint of the goods we carry on their behalf. The first service of its kind, the system operates in accordance with the Consignment-level Carbon Reporting Guidelines published by the World Economic Forum; the same guidelines which we use to audit our own carbon performance.
How we achieved premium green status
Last year, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DSJI) rated TNT the ‘greenest on the planet’ within our industry sector and we’ve topped the ‘Industrial Goods & Services’ sector of the DJSI for the last four years in succession.
One of the reasons for this is the stringent measurement, management and reporting methods we employ. We began reporting our global carbon performance in 2005 and have been careful to align the metrics used to measure our carbon footprint with those of the DJSI; and to have them independently audited by Price Waterhouse Coopers.
While we can understand why some people within the transport industry are concerned about mandatory carbon reporting the truth is that, increasingly, customers will only do business with organisations whose environmental standards mirror their own and are proven to be above reproach. Our recent Staples win is evidence of this.
The strength of our reporting methods is one reason why I was asked to join the Department for Transport and Department of Energy & Climate Change Steering Committee set up to establish guidelines of carbon reporting methodologies for SME operators of rail, road and sea transport services.
Why the Carbon Trust Standard?
There were very good reasons for us investing three-years of our time, energy and resources in measuring, managing and improving our carbon performance in order to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard.
We launched our ‘Planet Me’ programme in 2007, which encourages employees and suppliers to reduce their energy usage wherever possible, both in their working environment and at home. It’s succeeded in making carbon reduction an intrinsic part of our business strategy and culture with the focus being on efficiency improvements and innovation projects targeting our use of aircraft, fleet of vehicles and buildings.
Having added the ‘promise to know what planet we’re on’ to the 10 pledges underpinning our customer promise, we became the first in our sector to introduce a 51-strong fleet of zero-emission at point-of-use delivery trucks, which operate across depots throughout the UK.
The 7.5 tonne Smith Electric Newton lorries are the largest all-electric trucks of their kind and cost just 7p per mile in electricity to run. It’s worth noting that while innovations such as this tend to be costly upfront they deliver savings in the future, financially and environmentally.
We see our approach to helping to safeguard the environment as an integral part of the TNT way of life. As well as being imperative in the modern business world, and a key factor when it comes to winning hearts and minds, it sets us apart from our competitors, wins us business and engenders trust and loyalty among our customers.
Obtaining the Carbon Trust Standard is an important step in our ongoing quest for environmental accountability and excellence. The de facto industry standard it provides independent verification of our carbon cutting achievements.
When you consider that, in the latest Carbon Trust survey of consumer attitudes 60% need third party evidence of action from a respected climate change body before believing corporate claims, you can see why having an independent authority validate your claims and achievements is a business imperative.
Neil Griffiths is director of health, safety and environment for TNT in the UK and Ireland and part of the Steering Committee responsible for the new guidelines on carbon reporting for the transport sector.
Source: Neil Griffiths, TNT