The many ways we’re shrinking our carbon footprint

By Chris Fenton

Supply chains are facing intense scrutiny as businesses look to lower their carbon footprints – and it’s easy to understand why. The supply chain and logistics sector now accounts for about 24% of global carbon emissions.

To complicate matters, those numbers are trending in the wrong direction, with the European Environmental Agency forecasting the sector will account for 40% of global emissions by 2050. While those figures are somewhat inflated by improvements in other areas, such as the rise of electric vehicle (EV) automobiles, it shows just how much work the sector needs to do.

To move forward, we need to accurately measure our emissions so we can track our progress. It’s no easy task. A supply chain is comprised of several different branches, all of which need to be monitored and measured.

Understanding our total emissions is one thing, but it’s also important to break down that information in order to report data to stakeholders. There are many moving parts, but here at Metro Supply Chain we’re doing our part to tackle this serious challenge.

Taking stock

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is a popular saying in business textbooks. It is why Metro Supply Chain is working with Impacti, a leading emissions-tracking platform, to produce the data we need to analyze our current practices and seek improvements. What’s more, we can share our findings with partners as Impacti’s carbon accounting methods align with the GHG Protocol and ISO 14064-1 and are also informed by the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) Framework and best practices across the United Nations global network.

Reducing carbon emissions company wide

Over the years, we have taken concrete steps to help reduce carbon emissions from our operations. These include:

Choosing renewable energy

  • Converting forklifts to rechargeable battery power
  • Using low-carbon intensity fuels to power our material handling equipment (MHE)
  • Installing EV charging stations in employee parking lots

Reducing our energy output

  • Using energy-efficient lighting, including motion-activated lighting
  • Using on-demand printing
  • Installing high-efficiency appliances
  • Selecting facilities with high BREEAM ratings in our UK operations

Reducing waste

  • Reusing materials where possible
  • Implementing recycling programs at each site
  • Partnering with waste management services that employ proven sustainability practices
  • Providing solutions to repair or refurbish certain products
  • Managing return logistics for retailers to reduce waste
  • Supporting programs to eliminate single-use plastics

We’re not only concerned about reducing our own footprint, we are also choosing partners who share our vision of a more sustainable future. Before we select a vendor, we require it to adhere to Supplier Code of Conduct and respond to an extensive Sustainability Supplier Questionnaire.

Minimizing road time

As transportation is so integral to our operations, we’re especially conscious of reducing transit-related emissions. The first goal is always to minimize the amount of time products spend in transit. To that end, we use advanced technology to guide our drivers to the shortest, most efficient routes possible.

Our strategic network design helps ensure our trucks’ loads are maximized, which results in fewer trips to complete the same job. Additionally, we have partnered with customers such as Ikea to electrify delivery fleets in two major Canadian cities.

We’re eager to accelerate electrification in the near future once the supercharger infrastructure required for recharging truck batteries catches up with our ambitions. To help in the near time, we created a mobile charger, which can be used to recharge truck batteries wherever required.

As part of our commitment to electrification, our Quick Contractors team works with multiple OEMs, retailers and utilities to provide installation, service and maintenance, and consulting services for EV chargers. Our expertise in the area means we can provide labour support on a national level for multiple brands of charging stations.

Offsetting emissions

As a supply chain solutions company, eliminating 100% of our carbon emissions is not feasible – at least not yet. But we continue to take great strides to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, both big and small. In addition to our move into fleet electrification, we are working with Tree Canada in Western Canada to plant at least 5,000 trees in both rural and urban environments. We’re cleaning up the environment in other ways, too. In Ontario, our employees are giving their time to protecting highways through the provincial government’s Adopt-a-Highway program.

In the global effort to reduce carbon emissions, the role of the transportation and logistics sector is clear. We must be leaders. This is why, as we celebrate another Earth Day, Metro Supply Chain is fully committed to sustainability across every facet of our operations.