The GSB Interview: Emily Davis, Sustainability Director at DHL North America, on Logistics, Formula-E

DHL is the largest logistics and express delivery company in the world (yes, they are bigger than FedEx and UPS). Given the German-based company’s size and the businesses they’re in, it’s not surprising that their carbon emissions are massive. But those emissions have declined substantively as compared to nine years ago and those reductions will be tiny compared to what DHL will achieve over the next three to 33 years, if their aggressive projections are realized. GreenSportsBlog spoke to Emily Davis, Sustainability Program Manager at DHL North America’s Supply Chain unit, to understand how the largest logistics company in the world will go about achieving its net zero emissions goal by 2050 and how sports fits into those plans. 

 

GreenSportsBlog: I did not realize DHL was the biggest logistics company in the world. With that being the case, I am fascinated by the commitment of a company that big to get to “net zero” on carbon emissions by 2050. Before we get to the particulars of what DHL might do to get from here to there and where sports fits in, I’d like to find out how you got to DHL and its sustainability team.

Emily Davis: I have a scientific background, specifically the biological sciences. Even though I went to Notre Dame, don’t tell anybody but I’m not that big of a sports fan.

 

EmilyDavisheadshot2

Emily Davis, Sustainability Program Manager at DHL North America’s Supply Chain unit (Photo credit: Summer Safrit)

 

GSB: Oh, your secret is safe with me!

ED: I won’t hold my breath on that one. I’m more of an outdoor sports person—caving, mountaineering, paddling, that sort of thing. I started my career in the clinical medicine space and decided to make the transition to sustainability while out in Denver.

 

Emily spelunking new cave passage

Emily Davis, exploring virgin passage of a cave in Tennessee (Photo credit: Elliot Stahl)

 

GSB: Great place for outdoor sports…

ED: Exactly…And I could blend my dual passions for the environment and biology. I went back to school, getting my MBA from Vanderbilt in Nashville in environmental management to build a new skill set in this area.

GSB: What was the coursework like for an environmental management MBA?

ED: Good question. Some of it involved things like the business of forest certification standards and marketing. And that, in part, led to my getting a job at International Paper in forest resources in Savannah and then with their sustainability department in Memphis.

GSB: What was it like to work in corporate sustainability there back in the mid-to-late 2000s?

ED: Sustainability was important to a paper and packaging company as trees, the main raw material input, are a very finite resource if not appropriately managed. But not too many companies were talking about sustainability, ESG, life cycle assessment and climate change in those days. Even though sustainability was important to the culture at International Paper, I still wanted to make more of a difference. So I took a sabbatical and traveled. At some point, I decided that I needed to work for a company that believed in environmental protection at the top of the food chain and that had size and scale such that, when environmental improvements were made, the impacts would be significant.

GSB: And that company was…DHL? A company that ships stuff all over the world and, thus, must have a, sorry, yuuuugge carbon footprint?

ED: Yes, DHL North America it was. In 2011, they were looking for someone to run their North American supply chain and sustainability departments. And yes, we have a massive footprint. But that means, with a strong commitment, they—and I—could make a difference. At the time, I didn’t know much about the company. They were/are based overseas—headquartered in Germany. But I came to find out that they had ambitious sustainability goals. They believe deeply in environmental protection—it’s core to their DNA. And I thought to myself, “this is a company that has a chance to really make a positive impact on climate change.”

GSB: So what did your job entail?

ED: Many things. Meeting the company’s energy and fuel efficiency goals. Which meant accounting for and improving the efficiency of warehousing, heavy-duty trucking, aviation, express shipping and supply chain operations.

GSB: That is a BIG JOB. Seems to me like express delivery, which is what I thought was DHL’s main business, plays a smaller part in the US. So let’s go to a big part—supply chain. How does the company handle supply chain from a sustainability point of view?

ED: DHL, which tracks Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, is the first logistics company to report CO2 emissions and to set targets, with 2007 as the base year. Our primary goal was to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020. We achieved this in 2016, almost four years early, which we announced on March 8 of this year.

 

DHL Truck Windmills

Environmental protection is core to DHL’s DNA, according to Emily Davis (Photo credit: DHL)

 

GSB: Somehow I don’t imagine you and DHL are going to rest on your laurels…

ED: You’re right. We announced a new goal and that is to be a Zero Emissions Logistics company by 2050.

GSB: That seems impossible for a company that depends on flying and driving for a good chunk of its business. There have to be some assumptions of some serious technological advances over the next 30 or so years in terms of Zero Emissions fuels…

ED: It’s a huge target, no doubt about it. I mean, we’re committing to making no contribution to climate change by 2050. So, yes, we are assuming there will be wide adoption of Zero Emission fuels and equipment by that time and DHL is working on that right now.

GSB: Are there any interim targets? I mean 2050 seems like it’s a long way away—although I know, in terms of climate change, it really isn’t—but it feels like a company could put a commitment like that out there and then let things slide a bit, you know?

ED: I hear you. And we do have four interim sub-targets for 2025: 1. Make a 50 percent improvement on CO2 efficiency over the 2007 base. 2. Improve local quality of life…that will involve delivering 70% of our own first and last mile services with clean pick-up and delivery solutions like EVs. 3. An economic target: 50 percent of DHL sales will incorporate “Green Solutions,” including carbon neutral parcel delivery.

GSB: What is that percentage now?

ED: About 10 percent. Finally, #4 is a “people target.” DHL is one of the largest employers in the world, with approximately 454,000, including about 29,000 in North America. By 2025 we commit to having trained and certified 80 percent of our employees worldwide to be GoGreen specialists. Every division has a program, from express delivery to supply chain. And we have a target to plant 1 million trees each year by 2025. We’ve found, by the way, that our GoGreen initiative helps with employee retention.

GSB: I always believed that would be the case. DHL’s current sustainability and climate change actions are exemplary; its future plans even more so. My only nagging doubt is this: Many corporations take incredible sustainable actions but, when it comes to lobbying and political actions—i.e. lobbying for a price on carbon—they’re silent or in opposition. DHL is walking the climate/green walk. Is it talking the talk where it counts?

ED: It’s both. DHL is certainly talking the talk, sharing how we’re using scientific targets to do our part to keep global temperature increase to 2°C or less vs. pre-industrial levels, we report our emissions to CDP, have been a longstanding partner of the UN and promoter of Sustainable Development Goals, part of the UNEP and vigorously support the Paris Climate Agreement.

GSB: OK, let’s talk Green-Sports, specifically DHL’s involvement with Formula-E, the EV racing series.

ED: DHL has been the Official Logistics Provider for Formula 1 since 2012 and for Formula-E since its 2014 launch. Among other things, we are responsible for getting the vehicles and tires to the race venues in a timely, economical, environmentally responsible fashion. Formula-E is a perfect fit for us, especially with our push on “E-mobility” and electric vehicles (EVs). And, to be clear, our push is not limited to electric cars. We’re working on electric trucks within our own operations…

 

DHL Form-E

DHL has been a sponsor of Formula-E, the EV racing circuit, since its founding in 2014. (Photo credit: DHL)

 

GSB: Not surprising…

ED: And also electric vans, electric scooters. So promoting the electrification of racing is a natural fit. To our way of thinking, eventually—say before 2050—we hope that F-1 will move transition towards all-electric…

GSB: And so Formula E would no longer need to exist.

ED: That is our goal. And, also in the sporting world, I should tell you that one of our customers in Brazil was a sponsor of the Rio Olympics in 2016—we weren’t but they were. Anyway our EVs were used by the sponsor at the Olympics—they were one of the first ever EVs to be used at an Olympics and certainly a pioneering event for Brazil.

GSB: And, if DHL has anything to say about it, not the last.

 

 


 

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Green-Sports Corporate All Stars: Johnson Controls Helps Green Pro Football Hall of Fame; Aquafil Makes Fibers for 100 Percent Recyclable Swimsuits and Jerseys

GreenSportsBlog’s occasional series, “Green-Sports Corporate All Stars” highlights companies that are taking taking the lead at the intersection of Green + Sports. The first centered on adidas and Patagonia. Today’s second installment features energy efficiency leader Johnson Controls partnering with the Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF) as it expands from its current museum and football stadium footprint into a never-seen-before “football village,” and Aquafil, the Italian company that manufactures ECONYL®, a 100 percent regenerated yarn used in swimsuits and athletic wear.

JOHNSON CONTROLS HELPS GREEN NEW PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME VILLAGE GREEN

When Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker and Stu Lichter, President and Chairman of the Board of Industrial Realty Group, began formulating plans to turn the Canton, OH based museum and football stadium into a village that will include a hotel, retail, medical center, and much more, Johnson Controls was a logical energy efficiency partner. The Milwaukee-based company:

  • Is a global leader in intelligent building design, efficient energy solutions, integrated infrastructure and next generation transportation systems
  • Has significant experience working on high profile, energy efficiency projects, such as the Empire State Building’s massive retrofit that resulted in a 38 percent energy usage reduction.
  • Has worked with the Hall of Fame for many years.

“When the Hall of Fame undertook its last major renovation in 2010, we were hired to do the environmental systems work,” said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, Johnson Controls’ Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, “In addition to energy efficiency advances, part of our mission-critical work helped to protect the archives and artifacts through humidity controls and temperature monitoring. As big as that project was, the Hall of Fame Village is a much bigger undertaking.”

Kim Metcalf-Kupres

Kim Metcalf-Kupres,Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Johnson Controls (Photo credit: Johnson Controls)

 

The $600 million, 9-component^ Village project, currently in the design and strategy phases, is set become the world’s first-ever sports and entertainment “smart city.” Johnson Controls is providing its building management systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, fire and security systems and other technologies. The result will be significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and energy efficiency improvements. LEED certification will be sought—the level it will achieve is not yet known.

Johnson Controls, while primarily a B-to-B brand, understands the hold the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have on the American people. Thus it is not only helping to green and provide state of the art technology to the Hall of Fame Village, it is also putting its name on it.

Thus the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village is the company’s first foray into title sponsorship and “will be a powerful marketing and business building for us as it showcases the benefits of a smart, connected, energy efficient, sustainable village for fans, customers and prospective customers.” said Ms. Metcalf-Kupres. “We want our name to be more known, more visible to consumers as the market for smart, efficient buildings grows. And as that happens, our ability to help our customers lead on sustainability, efficiency and climate change will also grow.”

Hall of Fame Village Pro Football HOF

Artist’s rendering of the Johnson Controls Pro Football Hall of Fame Village (Credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame)

 

The way Pro Football Hall of Fame President Baker sees it, Johnson Controls’ is an ideal teammate for the Village project: “The Pro Football Hall of Fame stands for excellence—and so does Johnson Controls, with its leadership from energy efficient lighting to shades that keep heat in during the winter and help keep the building cool in the summer and more.”

 

AQUAFIL’S 100 PERCENT REGENERATED YARNS BECOME ATHLETIC APPAREL WITH ECONYL®

Giulio Bonazzi is a man on a mission.

The Chairman and CEO of Aquafil, manufacturer of yarns for apparel and carpet since opening its doors in 1970, believes humanity has no time to waste as far as making serious reductions in climate change producing carbon emissions is concerned. That is why his company, headquartered in Trento in Northern Italy, has made improving performance on emissions and resource consumption central to its DNA.

Bonazzi G Headshot

Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO of Aqaufil (Photo credit: Aquafil)

 

“We are, in effect, a chemical plant, one that is located near Lake Garda, one of Italy’s beautiful lakes, and the source of much of region’s water and energy—over 80 percent of which comes from hydro power. We have always realized that we need to keep the lake, the region and the planet clean and to do so, we have to innovate with sustainability at top of mind.”

Aquafil’s signature climate change fighting innovation is the ECONYL® Regeneration System, launched in 2011. ECONYL® yarn is made from Nylon 6, which, according to Mr. Bonazzi, “has a special characteristic that allows it to be regenerated into raw material through de-polymerization. This means you end up with a 100 percent virgin polymer. Nothing is degraded; all of the characteristics are at 100 percent quality.”

This would be a great story in and of itself, but remember, ECONYL® is a system as well as a yarn product

What makes it a system is that the Nylon 6 is produced from 100% regenerated waste materials, such as:

  • Pre-Consumer Waste: Scraps generated from the production of Nylon 6.
  • Post-Consumer Waste: Fishing nets and fluff (the top part of carpets and rugs).

Aquafil_Nets

Fishing nets retrieved from the ocean become raw materials for Aquafil’s Nylon 6 based ECONYL® product (Photo credit: Aquafil)

 

The ECONYL® yarn is manufactured at a dedicated regeneration plant in Slovenia, and then sold to a wide variety of apparel and carpet makers.

Athletic apparel companies are big consumers of ECONYL®. adidas uses it for its Parley swimwear line which was featured in GreenSportsBlog last month. “Parley” refers to adidas’ partnership with nonprofit Parley for the Oceans, which is dedicated to reducing the massive amounts of plastic waste in the oceans. Not to be outdone, Speedo sends its post-production scraps to Aquafil, which recovers the Nylon 6 for manufacture into ECONYL®. Even surfing legend Kelly Slater uses ECONYL® in Outerknown, his line of sustainable swimwear and outerwear. And Volcom uses ECONYL® in its new “Simply Solid” women’s swimwear line, launched last November. The tagline? “Caught Up In A Good Thing.”

 

Surfing legend Kelly Slater describes his/Outerknown’s partnership with ECONYL®

 

 

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Volcom “Caught Up in a Good Thing” print ad (Courtesy of Volcom)

 

“Sports and active apparel represents more than 50 percent of our ECONYL® business and the business is growing precisely because of its green properties,” reported Mr. Bonazzi, “And perhaps the most important statistic of all is that ECONYL® yarn has about 80 percent lower global warming potential than standard nylons.”

What about calcio, as soccer is called in Italy, and ECONYL®? “The clubs in Serie A, the top league in Italy, make their jerseys from polyester, as it is cheaper, at least for now,” acknowledged the Aquafil CEO, “Napoli F.C. is making its jerseys from a polypropylene that is better than polyester for the environment but there is much room for improvement. Before we get to Serie A, we see the skiing and cycling apparel markets as strong opportunities for ECONYL®. Right now, Aquafil is the 10th largest nylon fiber maker in world. We expect to move up, thanks to ECONYL® in the sports and apparel markets and also the carpet market, where we are a big player.”

 

 

 

^ The Hall of Fame Village’s 9 components are: Hall of Fame Museum, Tom Benson Stadium (where the annual Hall of Fame Game will be played), 4 Star hotel and Conference Center, Main Street Hall of Fame Village and Retail, Center for Excellence, Performance Center (another football stadium plus basketball arena), Legends Landing (independent and assisted living for Hall of Famers and other NFL legends), National Football & Youth Sports Complex, and the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Experience.

 


 

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Green-Sports Corporate All Stars: adidas Launches Shoe Made from Plastic Ocean Waste; Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” College Tour

Conventional wisdom has it that, given the anti-environmentalist attitudes of the current occupant of the Oval Office, the corporate sector will need to step up, bigly, on behalf of serious action on climate change. With that in mind, GreenSportsBlog will, from time to time, highlight “Green-Sports Corporate All Stars” taking the lead at the intersection of Green + Sports. Today we feature adidas, and its recently launched sneaker made primarily from plastic ocean waste, and Patagonia, the über-Green outdoor sports apparel designer and retailer as it encourages longer life spans for its (and its competitors’) garments. 

 

CORPORATIONS NEED TO STEP UP THEIR CLIMATE CHANGE GAME

The forecast for positive climate change action from the current administration is stormy.

At Tuesday’s sort-of State of the Union, President Trump did not mention climate change. One of his executive orders is designed to eventually allow coal companies to more easily dump waste into streams. Newly installed EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, talks longingly about dismantling the very agency he was hired to run and is a climate change skeptic at best.

All is not gloomy on climate in Washington, D.C.—Republican éminences grises James Baker, Hank Paulson, and George Shultz all endorsed, through their newly formed Climate Leadership Council, a revenue-neutral price on carbon; nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby^ continues to press for something similar among members of Congress from both parties, with some modest successes among House Republicans. But with climate change skeptics and deniers in charge of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, concerted pressure for meaningful, positive climate action will be needed from large corporations that have the heft to force real change, now more than ever.

The news from the corporate sector is mixed. Many have been and are doing great things: from pledging to reduce their carbon footprints and that of their supply chains, to curbing waste, to buying renewable energy and more. But—and this is a huge but—corporations have been much less likely to tout their environmental bona fides to consumers even though they are doing great things. And they have been mute when it comes to lobbying Congress on behalf of action on climate change. 

The good news-bad news on the climate for corporate climate action is also the case in the sports world. Many companies involved in sports are doing the right things, sustainability-wise; fewer are engaging their consumers and/or talking about it.

With that in mind, GreenSportsBlog is today launching a new occasional series, “Green-Sports Corporate All Stars,” in which we highlight the corporations that are making positive things happen at the intersection of Green & Sports.

 

ADIDAS DIVES DEEP TO BRING SNEAKER MADE FROM PLASTIC OCEAN WASTE TO MARKET

“Our ultimate ambition is to eliminate virgin plastic from our supply chain.”

So said Eric Liedtke, adidas Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing, in a November, 2016 press release announcing the launch of the company’s UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneaker, made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste.

Talk about thinking—and acting—big!

GreenSportsBlog first got wind that adidas’ plastic ocean waste shoe plans back in July, 2015. It took 16 months for the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based company to turn concept into reality.

The sneakers are made as part of a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental nonprofit that draws much-needed attention to ocean pollution and waste. Each shoe’s “upper” (the part that goes over the top of the foot) is made from 5 percent recycled polyester and 95 percent waste plastic (plastic bottles, containers, etc.) dredged from the ocean around the Maldives, an archipelago that is existentially threatened by climate change off the southern coast of India. Most of the rest of the sneaker (including the heel, lining, and laces) is also made from recycled material. 

adidas

adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneakers, made from 95 percent ocean waste. (Photo credit: adidas)

 

Priced at approximately $US220, the Uncaged Parley started slowly—only 7,000 pair were stocked at adidas retail outlets worldwide at launch in November—but the company is ramping up quickly, with audacious goals for this year: “We will make one million pair of [Uncaged Parley] shoes in 2017,” said Liedtke.

And adidas is not limiting its recycled-content vision to shoes.

In the February 1 issue of The Druma digital marketing-for-good news source, Tony Connelly reports that adidas brought the SS17 Parley swim collection to market. It  features two designs: a wave print that references the source of its fabric, and a Parley inspired graphic. The swimsuits are made from used fishing nets as well as the upcycled ocean plastic waste similar to that used in the sneakers. 

Speaking to Swimming World magazine, Tim Janaway, general manager of adidas Heartbeat Sports said: “Created with the ethos ‘from the oceans, for the oceans’, the Parley swim collection represents our dedication to consistently deliver swim products that protect that waters in which we perform.” Currently, 50% percent of the company’s swimwear is made from recycled material; that percentage is clearly going to rise.

Check out this spot that brings home the true power of the adidas-Parley for the Oceans collaboration:

The SS17 Parley Swim Collection ad (1:37)

 

PATAGONIA ENCOURAGES COLLEGE STUDENTS TO WEAR CLOTHES LONGER 

Athletic/outdoor-wear designer and retailer Patagonia is one of the greenest companies in the world.

It is also one of the most radical. Don’t believe me? Here is an excerpt from CEO Rose Marcario’s 2016 year-end letter:

For the sake of Planet Earth, let’s all become radical environmentalists. This sounds like a big leap—but it’s not. All you need is a sewing kit and a set of repair instructions. As individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer. This simple act of extending the life of our garments through proper care and repair reduces the need to buy more over time—thereby avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage required to build it.

Why is repair such a radical act? Fixing something we might otherwise throw away is almost inconceivable to many in the heyday of fast fashion and rapidly advancing technology, but the impact is enormous. I tell you this as CEO of a clothing company that, despite a deep commitment to responsible manufacturing, still takes more from the earth than it returns.

Ms. Marcario can’t mean we should wear clothes longer, thus buying less frequently from, say, Patagonia, can she? Oh, yes she can.

You see, Patagonia has embarked on the Worn Wear program which teaches consumers to repair their gear to keep it in action longer, along with providing an easy way to recycle Patagonia garments when they’re beyond repair.

This year, the Patagonia Worn Wear College Tour repair team is bringing its truck, Delia, to campuses all across the country. The team fixes about 40 garments per day of any brand, free of charge, on a first come, first served basis. They also give quick lessons on how to repair clothes, sell used gear at marked-down prices and screen a short film about the Patagonia ethos, The Stories We Wear.  

patagonia-we-wear

patagonia-worn-wear-donnie-hedden

Images from Patagonia’s Worn Wear College Tour. (Photo credit: Donnie Hedden)

 

The Spring 2017 tour started on February 16 at College of Charleston (SC). It’s in the midst of an east coast/New England swing, stopping at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City today and at Yale University on Monday.  The tour wraps up at UC Santa Barbara on April 26. Click here for the entire spring Worn Wear College Tour schedule.

 

^ In the interest volunteer my time on behalf of Citizens’ Climate Lobby
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