There’s a strong business case for prioritising sustainability that goes well beyond societal and environmental benefits. Logistics and transport businesses in particular stand to benefit from increased energy efficiency and less waste; and enhanced working relationships with suppliers, commercial partners, and consumers – a growing number of whom value strong ethical and environmentally-friendly propositions.

Despite these benefits, progress in greening the industry has been slow. Diesel still dominates middle-mile freight, and there are very real challenges working to discourage carriers, logistics providers and shippers from pushing the net zero agenda.

According to Dr Christopher de Saxe, Head of Sustainability at Zeus: “Cost is still the biggest barrier preventing businesses from investing in net-zero freight solutions, followed by limited infrastructure to support electric and alternatively fuelled HGVs, and the lack of a clear strategy from government outlining how it plans to support the industry.”

“However,” he continues, “that doesn’t mean that we in the private sector can sit still and wait.”

“Supply chains and infrastructure are coming under increasing scrutiny,” explains Ailsa Dormon of sustainability consultancy Sancroft. “Now is the time for the freight industry to demonstrate how sustainability can benefit business through driving efficiencies, encouraging a proactive approach and embracing new ways of working.”

Those new ways of working can start by improving existing systems, says Hizmy Hassen, Chief Digital Officer at Apollo Tyres. “Although it’s important we have alternatives to diesel power in our sight, sustainable freight is not just about electric vehicles, it’s also about driving efficiency gains by reducing waste. For example, as manufacturers, do we fill every truck when we ship goods?”

Ailsa and Hizmy will discuss these issues along with Dr de Saxe on the ‘Roadblocks to Sustainable Freight, and How to Overcome Them’ panel, taking place at 11.30am on Wednesday, 14th June on the Multimodal Conference Stage. They’ll be joined by John Trenchard, Commercial and Supply Chain Director at DP World UK, and Dr Alistair Barnes, Senior Programme Manager at Innovate UK.

Dr Barnes is working to deploy hundreds of zero-emission HGVs onto UK roads over the coming years, through a £200m partnership with the Department for Transport. He believes “the UK has a great opportunity to get significant numbers of sustainable HGVs on the road in the near future, to learn from these deployments and share this learning internationally.”  

The panel will explore the challenges, solutions and some real-life successes on the road to decarbonising freight in the UK. DP World has a clear plan to become a net zero logistics organisation by 2050; “we offer our customers innovative, end-to-end solutions that support their own sustainability journeys,” explains Trenchard. “It’s my privilege to represent DP World on this panel at Multimodal,” he continues, “it will help drive collective change towards a sustainable future and I look forward to participating."

The ‘Roadblocks to Sustainable Freight and How to Overcome Them’ panel takes place at 11:30am on Wednesday, 14th June, on the Multimodal Conference Stage.

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