DHL joins Circular Economy 100 to collaborate on reverse logistics

Package delivery behemoth Deutsche Post DHL is turning its focus to improving its logistics models to enable a more circular flow of goods, having being accepted as a Circular Economy 100 (CE100) member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The logistics firm joins a growing list of companies, innovators and regions as a member of Ellen MacArthur's Circular Economy 100

The logistics firm joins a growing list of companies, innovators and regions as a member of Ellen MacArthur's Circular Economy 100

The company, which has implemented a number of waste-reduction initiatives in recent years, says it wants to "allow more effective reuse, remanufacturing and recycling of products" and "avoid waste". As such, it is championing the concept of 'reverse logistics' - moving a product from its point of consumption to the point of origin to recapture its value - which it believes will be "an important enabler" in the transition to a circular economy.

As a newly-enlisted member of the CE100, DHL joins like-minded companies, innovators and regions seeking to contribute to a renewable, circular economy with individual projects or their entire business operation. The German delivery firm impressed the MacArthur's Foundation with its GoGreen programme which includes initiatives to optimise transport routes, develop vehicles with alternative drive systems and energy-efficient warehouses.

"Being accepted into this group is a confirmation of our focus on sustainability," said DHL's executive vice president for corporate communications and responsibility, Christof Ehrhart. "The membership also provides a good platform for tackling the major challenges of the future together.

"We all know that resources are limited, that our climate is being affected by carbon emissions, and that our consumer behaviour may lead to greater problems in the future. Joining ideas and forces to tackle these challenges is an important step for coming generations."

Ellen MacArthur Foundation's chief executive Andrew Morlet added: "Reverse logistics is an important enabler in the transition to a circular economy and Deutsche Post DHL will play a key role in providing new insights and collaborative opportunities within the program."

Sustainability Leader

DHL was rewarded for its revers logistics efforts at edie's 2014 Sustainability Leaders Awards, for its work with JD Wetherspoon.

More than 2,000 roll cages containing food, drink and other supplies are delivered to Wetherspoon pubs every day. Those roll cages are then filled with waste, which are collected by DHL and backhauled to the National Distribution Centre in Daventry for sorting and processing - some 1,600 of them every day.

Twenty-nine waste streams are currently collected and recycled including cardboard, plastics, cooking oil, WEEE, milk bottles, aluminium and steel cans, wood, furniture, clothing and catering equipment. Tetra Pak was added this year and while contaminated plastics will be added in 2015.

That operation has seen year-on-year growth in recycled waste increase from 5,426 tonnes in 2008 to 8,489 now. And, because of the mileage saved in collecting at the same time as delivering, the reverse logistics approach has helped drive a carbon reduction of 24% per million cases delivered - 44 tonnes each year.

Similar reverse logistics initatives have also been undertaken by McDonald's, Michelin and HP in recent years. 

Luke Nicholls


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