Cross-Border Commerce Europe, the platform driving cross-border e-commerce in Europe, publishes its latest blue paper summarising the learnings of seven knowledge and brainstorming sessions between C-Level executives from leading global retailers making up the Cross-Border Commerce Europe Green Supply Chain High Level Group, including L’Oréal, Kering and Adidas.

The report, available for purchase on the CBCommerce website, is intentionally provocative to reflect the group’s urgency to stimulate radical innovation and drive tangible improvements to sustainability in the e-commerce industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered profound changes in consumer behaviour, simultaneously causing explosive growth in sales volumes and a capacity squeeze in transport networks and demonstrating how vulnerable e-commerce markets are to external disruptions.

Climate change is at a breaking point. The impact of e-commerce can no longer be dismissed, as transport and logistics account for almost 25% of all European Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. As online consumers expect credible action in this field, new legislation such as the EU ‘Fit for 55’ package will require e-commerce companies to proactively step up and improve the sustainability of their supply chain networks.

The 20-page Green Supply Chain blue paper is the result of seven round table brainstorming sessions gathering eight international C-Level retail executives representing multiple sectors and EU countries, including L’Oréal, Kering, Adidas, BioMérieux, Beachbody, Carrefour, Lego and Nespresso. Chairmen Sven Verstrepen of Ghent University and Roel Gevaers of the University of Antwerpchaired the round table under the auspice of GeoPost/DPDgroup’s CSR Director Dominique Mamcarz, who acted as a knowledge partner.

The following topics are addressed:
The views expressed by each retail executive are their own takeaways and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of their companies.

  • Developing a sustainability vision and strategy.
  • Choosing a carbon measurement and reduction framework.
  • Practical steps to improve sustainability.
  • The importance of supply chain collaboration.
  • Stakeholder communication.
  • Recommendations for EU policymakers.
  • Quick sustainability self-assessment.
  • Best practice case studies.

You will find hereunder some initial learnings and takeaways from the report. Download the full report for detailed analysis and best practices.
With transport and logistics accounting for ca. 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, a Green Supply Chain strategy should play a pivotal role even in this COVID-19 supply chain storm.

  • Companies that want to start their e-commerce sustainability journey can choose from a wide range of opportunities to achieve greener supply chain networks and reduce GHG emissions. Carrefour uses laser measurement systems and advanced calculation algorithms to optimize the mix of heavy and light goods and fill rate in its trucks; L’Oréal uses only 5 box sizes for all its SKUs which have been optimized to avoid the amount of transported air.
  • The EU is putting strict legislation in place to reduce GHG emissions by 55% by 2030become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Companies will be required to step up or be penalised. Companies are advised to align their ambitions with the binding EU targets. In the group, Nespresso’s CEO has pledged to make every cup of coffee carbon neutral by 2022 for scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and the GeoPost/DPDgroup signed the UN Global Compact in 2016 and has integrated sustainability at the core of its 2030 “Together & Beyond” business strategy.
  • Consumers are increasingly sensitive to the environmental impact of e-commerce. As online shoppers expect credible action and communication in this field; Adidas communicates extensively and openly with regard to its sustainability vision and performance.
  • Communication towards end consumers should be innovative and creative to be impactful. In the same vein, consumers can be incentivised to use greener delivery methods or be offered a choice to offset the GHG emissions of their delivery.
  • Green Supply chain can only be achieved through more collaboration of all upstream and downstream partners and their logistics service providers. GeoPost/DPDgroup is for example investing heavily in European cities in the electrification of their fleets with the ambition to deliver 225 cities with exclusively low emission vehicles by 2025 reaching 80 million EU inhabitants.
  • Sustainability must become an integral part of the overall business and supply chain strategy. Developing a long term vision and strategy including SMART objectives should be the first step in the sustainability journey. The group highlights the importance of individualised sustainability self-assessment: comparing the internal “as is” situation with the desired “to be” vision and performance.

“e-Commerce companies are urged to make environmental sustainability an explicit building block of their supply chain strategy. This can be achieved through more collaboration of all upstream and downstream partners and their logistics providers. These last will play an essential role in the greening of the e-commerce sector”, confirmed Chairmen Sven Verstrepen of Ghent University and Roel Gevaers of the University of Antwerp.