Unilever logistics project aims to slash its European truck distances

Unilever has announced details today of a new logistics project designed to reduce the distance travelled by its trucks around Europe by 200 million kilometres annually by the end of 2014.

The project, which is being part-funded by the EU through the Marco Polo programme, aims to reduce around 450,000 vehicle kilometres from Irish roads.

Under an agreement signed with the European Commission, a new network of transport hubs will be established across Europe and managed by Unilever’s existing operations centre in Katowice, Poland. According to Unilever, the project will use cutting edge technology to maximise the load efficiency of the trucks in use.

The project will see Katowice logistics centre operating a network of regional hubs located across Europe. Each hub will be responsible for reducing the number of vehicle kilometres driven by ensuring that trucks are fuller as they travel across Europe from suppliers to factories and from factories to warehouses.

The company said the scheme will make a significant contribution to the delivery of the Unilever sustainable living plan (USLP), which has set out the ambition of doubling the size of the business while reducing its environmental impact.

As part of the USLP, Unilever has committed to ensuring that CO2 emissions from its global logistics network will be at or below 2010 levels by 2020, despite significantly higher production volumes to be generated as the company grows. This, it said, will represent a 40pc improvement in CO2 efficiency.

Unilever estimates that by the end of 2014, the project will remove annually the equivalent of around 154,000 truck voyages between Brussels and Warsaw compared to 2010 levels. It said traffic reduction should happen in almost all EU member states, with particular impact in highly congested areas.

By the end of 2014, the project also expects to reduce carbon emissions from Unilever’s logistics network by around 15,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, compared to 2010 levels.

“Reducing the number of kilometres that our trucks need to travel will result in a significant reduction in the environmental impact of our supply chain operations,” said Jan Zijderveld, president of Unilever Europe.

“But the business benefits of this initiative are equally important and they demonstrate, once again, the business case for driving sustainability into our business. Not only will this reduce our carbon emissions, but the long-term savings we will generate as a result of the reduced kilometres driven will help us become even more efficient and cost effective.”