Green strategy strengthens market position and helps protect the environment
Every year on June 5th, the United Nations calls on the world to celebrate World Environment Day (WED). For five years now, Deutsche Post DHL and its employees have taken part in WED with a wide range of activities, many of which continue beyond the single day event. Christof Ehrhart, Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications and Responsibility, explains why WED 2014 is right in line with Deutsche Post DHL's strategy.
Christof Ehrhart, Director of Corporate Communications and Corporate Responsibility Deutsche Post DHL
Mr. Ehrhart, what does the postal and logistics company Deutsche Post DHL have to do with World Environment Day?
Christof Ehrhart: A lot. Environment and climate are high on our agenda and, through our GoGreen program, have been an integral part of our corporate strategy. For the last five years we've been participating in the United Nations World Environment Day. When I say we, I refer primarily to our employees around the world who actively participate in the WED activities on and around June 5th. It's always very encouraging to see that our employees are not limiting their contribution to one-time WED activities, but are working to build longer-term environmental awareness into the everyday. This is of course very much in line with the Group's extensive "green" programs and services.
How exactly do employees get involved?
Christof Ehrhart: We want to heighten environmental awareness among our employees around the world and we use World Environment Day to encourage them to initiate special green activities and to begin to change their approach and thinking. By the way, a similar "call to action" takes place every year in September as part of Global Volunteer Day. All big or small activities count: by adopting more environmentally-friendly practices in their own office, such as using less paper, turning off devices and lights at the end of the work day, and getting colleagues involved. The same applies for outside the office where they are encouraged to commute by bicycle and/or public transportation instead of the car. On World Environment Day we even take it a step further: here, colleagues get involved in community projects such as cleaning up public parks, ponds or beaches, trees planted or areas cleaned of weed. With these activities - many involve customers as well - we want to underline our commitment and show that our activities are not an end in themselves.
That leads us to the GoGreen program. Deutsche Post DHL is not the only beneficiary, right?
Christof Ehrhart: The Group benefits from these programs and services, but also our customers, the communities in which we operate, and the environment. To be successful and to strengthen our market position we need to acknowledge our social mandate as a global company, and align this as best as possible with our core business and our customers' interests. This means providing a product in a market, where our responsibility is the greatest: in our transport and logistics business, that naturally affects the environment. This is exactly why we developed our many carbon efficiency measures, and developing our eco-friendly GOGREEN products and services.
Could you provide some current examples of this?
Christof Ehrhart: Let's take our huge vehicle fleet, for example. We are continually expanding our use of alternative drive vehicles. Today some 11,500 of our vehicles are fitted with hybrid, biogas or natural gas engines or feature aerodynamic optimizations. This is not only good for the environment, but saves money for us and for our customer. The environment and our customers also profit from the further development of our GOGREEN products. For several months now, our carbon neutral GOGREEN products are now also 100% climate neutral. In addition to continued quantification and reporting on CO2 emissions, which is the predominant greenhouse gas generated by transport, data is also being collected on other relevant greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. One last example is the power supply for the thousands of buildings that we operate around the world. Today 60 percent of these buildings are running on green electricity; in Germany this figure is already up to 90 percent.
You say the Group needs to benefit as well. Are these green products and services paying off?
Christof Ehrhart: Definitely, even if it's not always directly in the form of dollars and cents. Green products and services have become an important aspect of a company's competitiveness in the world economy. For some customers, the best price and best performance is not always enough to win their business. They're looking for the complete package, and for most customers today this also means environmental standards and green products/services. Today, they also need to demonstrate to their own customers that they are making a real contribution. The growing number of ratings and rankings - alone in the area of environment - demonstrates the real impact this can have on market positioning and competitiveness. Just two examples of where we stand in the rankings today: Deutsche Post DHL was recently awarded the Green Brands seal and received 98 out of 100 points on the Global 500 Climate Disclosure Leadership Index. So in terms of pay off for the Group, the question leads us back to Shared Value: how does a green strategy benefit the company? Mainly with a stronger market position - and with cost savings over the long term, even if an initial investment is required.
And getting back to WED 2014, will Deutsche Post DHL headquarters in Bonn also be taking part?
Christof Ehrhart: Our Post Tower headquarters will be devoting World Environment Day to e-mobility, including tests with e-bikes and e-vehicles. And of course there will be a wealth of information on how to make the everyday more eco-friendly - both at work and at home. Post Tower employees, by the way, have taken the lead in our "Bike to work" project, which we also initiated five years ago. Some ride their bikes to work all year round regardless of weather. Across the Group as a whole, employees have biked some 4.4 million kilometers to and from work since the start of the campaign and have saved about 738 tonnes of CO2.