Unilever has said it will reduce the distance its trucks drive on Europe’s roads by around 200 million kilometers annually by the end of 2014, compared to 2010 levels, as part of a project partially funded by the EU.
The company says its new transport management scheme will remove 23 million vehicle kilometers from UK roads.
Under an agreement signed with the European Commission, a new network of transport hubs will be established across Europe and managed by Unilever’s existing operations center in Katowice, Poland.
The global consumer goods company, whose more than 400 brands include Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Q-tips, says the project will use “cutting edge technology to maximize the load efficiency of the trucks in use,” but does not give specifics.
According to the company, the scheme is the largest project of its size and scope in the EU, and will move Unilever closer to its goal to halve its environmental impact while doubling its size. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan includes a goal that CO2 emissions from its global logistics network will be at or below 2010 levels by 2020, despite the higher production volumes that will be generated as the company grows. This will represent a 40 percent improvement in CO2 efficiency, Unilever says.
Fewer trucks on the European roads network will also result in less carbon emissions. By the end of 2014, Unilever expects the project to reduce carbon emissions from its logistics network by about 15,000 tons of CO2 each year, compared to 2010 levels.
Unilever’s logistics center in Katowice will operate a network of regional hubs located across Europe. Each hub will be responsible for reducing the number of vehicle kilometers driven by ensuring that trucks are fuller as they travel across Europe from suppliers to factories and from factories to warehouses.
Marco Polo is the EU funding program for logistic operators. Its goal is to lessen the environmental impacts of freight transport across Europe. Between 2003 and 2009, over 500 firms received project funding.
The second Marco Polo program runs from 2007 to 2013, and traffic reduction is one of its key priorities.