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29 February 2012 | Adam Leach
Companies such as Marks & Spencer, Iceland and Mars have removed 204 million heavy-goods vehicle miles by reducing empty lorry loads and increasing the use of rail freight.
Figures published this week by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) revealed 43 companies in the food and grocery sector have worked to remove the equivalent of 3,500 lorries from UK roads by managing their deliveries more efficiently between 2007 and 2011.
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive at IGD, said: “Meeting this latest target is a notable milestone, but the industry’s commitment to transport sustainability doesn’t stop here. IGD continues to bring a wide range of food companies together to offer fresh thinking on how they can co-operate in a positive way.”
Initiatives carried out to reach the target included the sharing of trucks between competitors to minimise the number of empty lorries, using technology to monitor traffic and switch to more efficient routes and changing distribution from road to rail. The IGD supported the companies by sharing examples of best practice across the industry and holding a forum for supply chain directors to collaborate through.
Chris Poole, customer services and logistics director at drinks company Diageo, which participated in the scheme, said: “This is a great example of how collaboration between suppliers and retailers can deliver tangible benefits to consumers and have a positive impact on the environment. There’s more to do, but taking 200 million miles off the road is a major achievement on which to build.”
In December, a report by the Waste & Resources Action Programme found collaboration between food retailers and their suppliers had resulted in 260,000 tonnes of waste being removed from the supply chain.