Schneider Electric: Place sustainability at the heart of logistics strategy

Culture, collaboration and carefully counting the cost of carbon in supply chains will be critical over the next decade to move forward with sustainability

Schneider Electric have ambitious plans to decarbonise their supply chain, with an aim of getting down to net zero emissions by 2025. So, what lessons have they learnt along the way and what remains to be done to move beyond fossil fuels?

Nick Stylianou, Project Director: Supply Chain, Reuters Events sat down with Stuart Michael Whiting, SVP, Logistics & Planning, Schneider Electric to discuss sustainability in logistics.

Register for free for Reuters Events Supply Chain Execution (October 6-7, Virtual) where Stuart will be discussing the topic in more depth.

Nick: What are the risks to a brand like Schneider Electric of ignoring sustainability goals?

Stuart: Sustainability is at the core of our purpose: to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. It’s how we help our customers and partners every day in buildings, data centres, infrastructure, industry, and homes. 128,000+ employees serve customers in more than 100 countries, enabling them to manage their energy and processes in ways that are safe, secure, reliable, efficient and sustainable.

We must lead by this example, thus ensuring our own operations and those of our critical partners are clean and sustainable.

We must lead by this example, thus ensuring our own operations and those of our critical partners are clean and sustainable.

This year, we were recognized by Corporate Knights as the world’s most sustainable company, and last year was ranked 4th in The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25, even this year #1 in Europe’s Top 15 Supply Chains for 2021 all this recognition adds to our brand value for our investors and customers, we must strive to improve upon this performance every year to fulfil our commitment to them also.
We have pledged to be net zero CO2 emissions in our supply chain operations by 2025, and carbon neutral on full end-to-end footprint (scope 1, 2, 3) by 2040, and net zero CO2 (no carbon offsets) in our supply chain operations by 2050.

The risks of neglecting sustainability goals are both social and financial. Investors, customers, and the general public expect companies to act responsibly and sustainably. Companies have come under scrutiny for greenwashing. Buying our way out through credits would not only be irresponsible but also very costly as the carbon prices continue to soar.

Sustainability can positively impact the bottom line through operational cost savings and reduction in energy waste. If you become a prosumer through clean renewable energy, you enjoy better prices from the grid also.

Nick: Why is it so important to place sustainability at the heart of a company’s logistics strategy?

Stuart: Consumers, investors, and the public in general are demanding companies take a proactive approach when it comes to sustainability, and their own impact on climate change.

According to Accenture’s Business Futures 2021 report, businesses aren’t just putting sustainability on the agenda, they are building sustainability into the fabric of their operations.

This footprint can be taken to clean energy-carbon neutral in only five years if the investments are made in solar arrays and storage

Our in-house operations generate 436kt of CO2. Most of that is transportation, only around 14kt CO2 lies in the strategic footprint. This footprint can be taken to clean energy-carbon neutral in only five years if the investments are made in solar arrays and storage. The transportation requires a collaborative investment effort across the network of carriers and other shippers to be successful

Our Scope 1 horizon is on track, but like all global companies we cannot operate without expert partners and suppliers (scope 2 and 3). It is here in large scale raw material supply and international shipping that we must focus collective efforts to attain our goals through renewable clean fuel and energy.

The goals are to reduce carbon emissions by 17% by 2025 to support 2030/2050 ambition with:

  • Energy efficiency savings of 15%, and renewables power sourcing at 90%.
  • 50 GSC sites at net-zero CO2.
  • 1,000 suppliers with ambition of -50% CO2 emission.

Nick: What are the biggest pieces of advice you would give for brands starting their logistics sustainability journey?

Stuart: Create the culture and passion in your people, empower your teams to take sustainable actions as a key driver of transformation, and make environmental excellence visible in all of
your facilities. Ensure you train your people effectively too, not every behavioural impact is as obvious as turning off a light for example.

Think about sustainability in the broad sense of business transformation

Think about sustainability in the broad sense of business transformation. The strategic rationale for business cases today must include the impact of the “What if we did nothing” scenario and how this is costed in CO2 offsets.

Work closely with partners and suppliers. Partners like Schneider Electric who can help you develop your sustainability strategy and have the solutions to get you there. Partners like your transportation and logistics network providers. Co-development of innovative solutions will bring faster, more sustainable outcomes for all involved.

Behaviour impacts sustainability in a big way - think about route planning and effective driving techniques as an example of ‘non-obvious’ sustainability, or container fill rate optimisation.

Nick: What technologies/initiatives do you see as helping a company like Schneider Electric on its sustainability journey?

Stuart: We are taking multiple approaches, including:

  • Zero Carbon Project: Schneider is partnering with top 1,000 suppliers to help reduce our operations’ CO2 footprint 50% by 2025.
  • Analytics: Quantify and measure GHG emissions with digital tools to enable data-driven decisions, remote program control, and real-time performance tracing.
  • Ambition: Set strategy and goals to accelerate progress toward your climate action ambition
  • Action: Reduce emissions through decarbonisation initiatives and exchange with peers and partners, to access innovative solutions for decarbonisation.
  • EcoStruxure: The EcoStruxure IIOT suite aggregates our energy management IIOT applications that cross-enterprise energy and sustainability information in a single, cloud-based platform, providing real time analytics for corrective and preventative actions.
  • Collaborative Transport Innovation: Some examples inlude the eMethanol, which is currently being piloted by Maersk, ‘Eviatoin’ electric aircraft with DHL, drone deliveries with UPS, Electric Vehicles with Penske, which all key partners making the right investments with their strategic customers

Interested to find out more about sustainability in transport and logistics? Then click here.

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