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DHL Uses Rail to Cut Carbon Emissions

DHL Global Forwarding will rely more heavily on rail in Germany to transport containers to sea freight terminals in an effort to cut its carbon emissions.

DHL Global Forwarding, the freight unit of German postal giant Deutsche Post DHL Group, previously transported containers on roads via trucks. By shifting to rail transport, the freight unit expects to cut carbon emissions by 365 tons a year, according to a report in Post & Parcel.

The shift from roads to rail is one component of DHL’s company-wide goal to cut emissions 30 percent (from a 2007 benchmark) by 2020. Since launching its GoGreen initiative several years ago, the company has installed IT systems to collect information on carbon outputs at all points in the supply chain and process it automatically.

In July 2011, DHL created the GoGreen Carbon Dashboard, a service for its freight customers to track carbon emissions from the company and third-party sources.  It also worked to improve efficiency with the installation of more accurate fuel gauges in its trucks and added 30 electric vans and 50 hybrid trucks to its Manhattan fleet.

The company has tested the efficiency of its rail transport network since April 2011.  This month DHL Global Forwarding said it will officially move from road to its rail network for consolidated freight containers going from its shipment facility in Bremen to the terminals of shipping companies in Hamburg and Bremerhaven. The container redistribution facility in Bremen, where some 7,500 consolidated freight containers are transported to terminals each year, is one of the company’s most important sea freight transhipment centers in Europe.

Jürgen Klenner, vice president of strategy and business at DHL Global Forwarding, said as much as 50 percent of a product’s carbon footprint is generated in the course of transportation.

DHL said it has already met its interim target to improve its energy efficiency 10 percent by 2012.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that DHL has tested the efficiency of its rail transport network since April 2001. This should have read “April 2011.” 

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