I’ve never run a marathon, but I imagine it would be a very praise-worthy experience.
First, you sign up, feeling that initial rush of “wow, I’m actually doing this” adrenaline. That's followed by everyone's favorite part: telling people. You’re instantly flooded with responses like “Good for you!” and “You’re such an inspiration!”. But then, the glory starts to fade and you realize it’s time for the hard work. Months of training, time and dedication (and probably pain) are needed before you can cross the finish line.
We’re seeing a similar process happening in corporate sustainability around setting climate goals. It’s inspiring work to see companies set targets. Take for example evian, which announced its ambition to be Carbon Neutral globally by 2020 during the Paris Climate Summit in 2015.
But getting kudos for setting a goal is just the beginning. The rest of the story, often the most important and tricky step is figuring out those middle miles – determining how exactly these goals can be met. As consumers, it’s the hard work being done to deliver on a goal that we should be celebrating even more.
This summer, I got a glimpse into what those middle miles look like – what it takes to get from goal setting to goal hitting.
One big area of opportunity to make GHG reductions in evian’s supply chain is related to downstream logistics in the U.S – activities such as warehouse storage, or transportation from U.S. ports to other warehouses and distribution centers.
This summer, the company partnered with EDF Climate Corps, enlisting the help of Andrea Gomez Vesga. Andrea was challenged by the head of Danone Waters America Supply Chain with designing a GHG reduction plan, focusing on these downstream activities.
Andrea worked hand in hand with the Supply Chain team to compile data on the carbon footprint of each of the company’s lane and carriers. Per the team’s request, Andrea created a custom, user-friendly carbon calculator to make it simple for the transportation team to incorporate carbon into decision making. “evian has bold ambitions and now we can move from ambition to action here in the United States. By analyzing our existing data through a sustainability lens provided us with information that can help us take the actions necessary to reduce our emissions”, stated Aurelie Fonzes, Logistics Manager with Danone Waters.
To reduce transportation-related emissions, evian is converting to intermodal freight transport – the use of two modes of freight, such as truck and rail, to transport products – when possible. Supporting this strategy, Andrea analyzed the environmental performance of each carrier and ranked them accordingly. She determined that evian could make significant cuts in its footprint and recommended opening a strategically located new warehouse that would replace trucks with trains.
The supply chain team has already started the conversations with partners and the next steps is defining metrics, targets and goals that plan to be incorporated into the Supply Chain’s sustainability roadmap. And even better, the potential for scale is huge: This pioneering program in Danone Waters of America is being shared for learnings throughout the company’s other business units.
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Daniel Hill is a Project Manager for the EDF Climate Corps team, which orchestrates an innovative fellowship program placing top tier graduate students in leading companies, municipalities and universities to build the business case for sustainability and energy efficiency.