Transport and distribution

We transport more than 145 000 tonnes from 1600 warehouses daily – the equivalent of 274 times around the world each day. Our partnerships with third-party logistics providers enable us to track our environmental performance and improve efficiency by reducing miles travelled, fuel consumed, GHG emissions, noise and congestion. Our reporting covers 66% of our total product volume.

Our approach

As outlined in the Nestlé Policy on Environmental Sustainability, our aim is to:

  • Optimise – streamline distribution networks, route planning and vehicle space usage;
  • Explore – identify and define new transportation methods and alternative fuels; and
  • Prepare – train our drivers to improve safety and environmental efficiency.

We focus on making the most of our vehicle trips, reducing empty transport journeys and constantly reviewing our distribution networks, including improving route planning for our own vehicles. Switching our preferred mode of transport from road-based to rail and sea, and increasing our use of alternative fuels, can help us lower our environmental impact.

The same is true for our warehouses, where we continually test renewable energy options and energy-efficient lighting. As with every aspect of our business, new technology is key to innovation, and a critical investment area.

Reducing emissions from transport and distribution

Our transport and distribution operations generated 3.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in 2015. We continue to work to improve the environmental performance of these operations, improving the efficiency of our distribution networks and making better use of transport space. We are making good progress in reaching our objective, reducing emissions by 2.7% in our distribution operations in 2015 against our 2014 baseline. That is the equivalent of 6600 million tonnes of GHG emitted – equal to taking 1400 cars off the road. We also continually search for ways to further reduce the energy consumption in our warehouses by improving lighting, heating, cooling and insulation.

Optimise: Getting the most out of our vehicles

Delivery vehicles that travel empty or with limited loads are inefficient and costly, so we are making a considerable effort to make the most of the vehicles that we use. Trucks and containers have maximum loads, defined by weights and potential volume – even a 1% improvement in how much is carried on vehicles can significantly reduce emissions and costs.

We strive to ensure that ‘no vehicle leaves empty’, improving the efficiency of our transport while reducing unnecessary journeys. We work with suppliers, retailers and other manufacturers to share vehicles where appropriate. We have also redesigned several local distribution networks to improve efficiency.

Examples of how we work with other companies include:

  • Belgium: Thanks to an industry working group, our operations in Belgium were brought together with other companies to find a shared transport solution: by collaborating on truck space and journeys, we lowered the number of trucks on the road, reducing carbon exhaust fumes by 63% and CO2 emissions by 43 tonnes per year.

In some markets, our Transport Control Centres give us visibility on vehicle use across our network and help identify opportunities to reduce the number of empty vehicles. Cooperating with suppliers and customers on the use of delivery vehicles helps us avoid trucks being empty on a return journey.

Explore: Finding a better path

We aim to transfer our transportation networks from road to rail or sea wherever possible, and use natural gas in our trucks. These advances are made possible through innovation, which is where we invest to make environmental improvements. We investigate and develop opportunities for transport options that lower emissions, avoid traffic congestion, cut costs and increase efficiency.

Examples include:

  • US: Our Nestlé Waters North America bottled water brand Poland Spring began shipping via train, rather than truck. An estimated 4000 containers were shipped by rail in 2016, a reduction of more than 500 000 road miles.

As part of our efforts to reduce GHG emissions, we continue to explore the viability for using cleaner fuels. We are also continuing to expand driver training from both a safety and an environmental efficiency perspective.

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