What makes a sustainability leader? Meet low-carbon fleet management champions DPD

With the entry deadline for edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards less than a month away, this series showcases the achievements of previous winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: Winner of our 'Transport/Fleet Management Initiative' award, DPD.

What makes a sustainability leader? Meet low-carbon fleet management champions DPD

Ready to follow in DPD's footsteps? Entries for the 2022 awards close on 1 October 2021

DPD is re-engineering its operations to reduce CO2 emissions, in an effort to become the UK’s most sustainable parcel carrier. The business is making rapid progress towards a new 25-25-25 vision: to deliver 100 million parcels a year on pure electric vehicles (EVs) in 25 UK cities by 2025.

Parcel carrier DPD has a fleet of 8,000 commercial vehicles and an annual turnover of £1.4bn. It has doubled in size since 2013, with the team now comprising 18,500 people, and major Business customers include Asos, John Lewis, Next, Hello Fresh, EE and Fortnum & Mason.

The organisation recognised that the scale of its UK operations has a major impact on society and the environment, and it is passionate about minimising emissions and making its operations as sustainable as possible. For the past 10 years, DPD has adopted a 1-2-3 strategy to determine how it runs the business: 1) deliver the best service money can buy, 2) use the best technology available, and 3) recruit and retain the most customer-centric people. In 2019, it adapted and expanded this 1-2-3 approach to include anew fourth element: be the UK’s leader in sustainable delivery.

This is the first and only time that DPD’s corporate strategy has been changed since 2011. This new sustainable development element of its strategy represents a fundamental shift in DPD’s business proposition while also interlocking with everything else that is important to it and our customers.

At the end of 2019, DPD set a target to make 10% of its fleet all-electric by December 2020. Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the business achieved this goal five months early, investing £20m in 800 EVs which are now on fleet at 84 depots nationwide. The projected annual CO2 saving of DPD’s 10% electric fleet is 5,000 tonnes.

In 2020, DPD delivered more than 10 million parcels with EVs, up from just one million in 2019.

The business says it is going “as fast as it can” with fleet electrification, but it faces numerous bureaucratic obstacles. So, in a recent 1-2-1 meeting with prime minister Boris Johnson, its chief executive asked the Government to encourage manufacturers to make more EVs at more affordable prices, to invest much more quickly in rolling out a nationwide charging infrastructure and to remove red tape so that unused city centre premises such as car parks can be converted into all-electric micro-depots.

In the months leading up to edie’s 2021 awards, DPD stated in its application, the business focused more energy than ever on developing its own technology. Two areas of focus were selected: giving consumers the tools (for example, the DPD App) to improve right-first-time delivery rates and optimising routes to increase parcels delivered per mile.

Through the DPD App – downloaded by eight million people in just 18 months – DPD gives home shoppers a one-hour delivery window, so that they know when the driver is due and can change the time and place of delivery if necessary. The positive impact in 2019 of consumers rearranging delivery to a time when they knew they would be at home was a CO2 saving of 23,000 tonnes, the equivalent of planting 91,000 trees, because an extra 22.4 million parcels were delivered right first time, reducing distance travelled by 15,048,771 miles.

This improved right first-time delivery success also meant 22.4 million fewer ‘sorry we missed you’ cards, which in the past would have resulted in around 5 million people emitting 18,600 tonnes of CO2 by driving an average of 12 miles to their local DPD depot to collect a parcel.

edie’s judges said: “DPD’s 25-25-25 vision gave a very strong sense of commitment, pace and energy from a major and influential player which will decisively influence its market. What stood out was DPD’s consideration of a whole-service model in a very thorough, integrated approach.”

Are you our next winner?

After a tough and extraordinary year, edie’s RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are back for 2022, bigger and better than ever – celebrating the incredible people, projects and partnerships that are accelerating climate action and transforming business, for good. 

Entries are now OPEN. The submission deadline for the 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards is Friday 1 October 2021. The Awards is then set to take place as a live ceremony on the night of Wednesday 2 February 2022 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. 

Our ‘Sustainability Leader of the Year’ category is among the 23 categories to choose from. Make sure you get the recognition you, and your team, deserve. ENTER THE SUSTAINABILITY LEADERS AWARDS 2022 HERE.

edie staff

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