The projects are part of Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan its ̶ 10-year blueprint to double the size of the business, while reducing its environmental impact. Its year two update, published on April 22, showed that the company cut carbon dioxide emissions by 10% during 2012 and has now eliminated 1Mt of carbon dioxide from its manufacturing and logistics operations since 2008.
Lorraine Amos, supply chain logistics project manager for Unilever UK and Ireland, said the firm’s main focus over the last two years had been on filling trucks more efficiently so there were fewer and fuller shipments including storing food products next to homecare goods when it had proved safe to do so.
During the next 12 months, however, the firm’s focus will turn towards new technology and dual-fuel trials where vehicles can run on petrol and liquefied petroleum gas.
“We are looking at a number of new technologies,” she said. “This will get a minimum of 10% reduction in the amount of fuel and if you add that up by the number of trucks we have on the road, you’ll start seeing a big impact.”
Almost 70% of Unilever UK & Ireland’s plan to improve carbon efficiency for 2013 ̶ 15 is driven by loadfill and network design.
Amos said that the increasing focus on sustainability and changes in retailer requirements were also providing greater opportunities for food and drink manufacturers to work together to pool deliveries, provided retailers and third-party logistics providers helped facilitate such agreements.
“Our flexible network is enabling us to work with one of our major retailers and other manufacturers in order to combine daily retailer orders into one consolidated load,” she said.
Back in 2007, Food Manufacture reported on a similar collaboration between Nestlé and competitor United Biscuits, and a collaboration between Unilever and Kimberly Clarke in The Netherlands.
Unilever’s latest scheme sees DHL deliver goods from its Bawtry warehouse where it is combined with products from other manufacturers. This replaces the need for several separate deliveries.
Amos added:“There are further opportunities for collaboration and working together in terms of logistics, provided there is the will.”
Unilever has now set targets for its logistics partners to find ways of using its network with other firms to further improve sustainability and drive down costs.