The project will see Unilever-branded products transported by rail rather than road and has kicked off in Italy where the Green Express train made its first ice cream delivery last week.

The dedicated railway line will transport Algida ice creams from Unilever’s factory in Caivano near Naples, 700km to the logistics hub in Parma.

The direct connection, linking three lines, means that 3,500 trucks will be taken off the road each year with an energy saving of 40 million mega-joules per year.

Unilever’s vice president for logistics (Europe) David Beauchamp called the model a “game changer” and hoped it would inspire other companies in Italy to adopt similar rail transportation approaches.

“This is not just beneficial for the environment but also for costs, we estimate that this will achieve a 6% reduction in costs per year,” he said.

Green Express is part of a wider eco-efficiency programme within Unilever’s supply chain to support its sustainable living plan.

By 2020, Unilever is aiming to ensure that CO2 emissions from its global logistics network will be at or below 2010 levels, representing a 40% overall improvement in CO2 efficiency.

So far, progress has seen a 10% improvement in CO2 efficiency since 2010.

Maxine Perella

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