SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2021

Transition to green energy

Reducing road transport by CoolRail

CoolRail is the train connection for the transport of fresh products. It operates between the south and north of Europe.

In addition to the main route, which runs between Valencia and Rotterdam, new destinations now include the United Kingdom, the Nordic countries and Germany. Euro Pool System initiated CoolRail in 2019, and it has been operated by Transfesa logistics since 2020.

Its purpose is to transport fresh products in a more sustainable and efficient way, adding synergy of Euro Pool System by relocating trays back to the south for the next cycle. It is a responsible alternative that achieves a CO2 reduction of 70-90% in comparison with road transport. In 2021, 1,633 containers were transported by train, avoiding an equal number of trucks on the road. In 2022, we expect to expand the capacity of rail transport further, together with our supply chain partners.

In 2021, we witnessed a sharp increase in the flow to the United Kingdom, where CoolRail is currently running an average of five trains per week. This is great news, as rail transport helps us to reduce our carbon emissions. To this end, we have also started an exciting collaboration with LPR in switching to transport by rail. This will be an important focus area of our work in 2022.

In addition, we are developing multi-modal transportation, combining transportation by rail and water. In 2021, we started a route by boat from the Netherlands to the Nordics and from the Netherlands to Spain. This is another exciting opportunity to further reduce emissions by a sustainable and efficient distribution network of fresh products by rail or boat.

Transport optimisation

Both EPS and LPR have put a great deal of effort into the optimisation of logistics. At EPS, we minimise the required transport movements through strategic planning. Weekly, we calculate the optimal logistical flow in order to best balance the differences between supply and demand in the network.

Furthermore, on a strategic level we optimise our logistics network, so that the different regions become self-supporting in terms of washing capacity. In combination with unsorted returns (mixed trays), this is the optimal logistics model. Relocation transport is minimised while the
internal supply chain is shortened, and this reduces the number of transport kilometres and hence the emissions. Our on-site Return centres are an important tool to further optimise logistics and bring collaboration with our partners to the next level.

LPR makes use of innovative tooling in strategic planning to further optimise its transport flows across Europe. More efficient routings and higher loading rates of trucks lead to a reduction in travel distances, and hence CO 2 emissions.

Moreover, LPR further explores the use of green carriers and multi-modal transport options. On some of its trajectories, LPR makes use of rail transport or trucks that run on sustainable fuels such as biogas. Working together with transport partners is key to enlarging the impact in the supply chain and programmes such as Lean&Green and FRET21 further drive this.

 

EPS Juan Pablo2-1

“Shifting to railway transportation, boats or multimodal are exciting opportunities to further reduce our emissions.”

Juan Pablo Ducos de Launou, International Logistic & Process Manager at Euro Pool System

Reducing our carbon footprint

We set the ambition to reduce the carbon footprint for each rotation of our trays and pallets by 20% by 2025, in comparison to the baseline in 2017. To achieve this goal, we are committed to strategic projects that focus on optimising logistics, green energy and our reusable carriers. The reusability of our pooling trays and pallets drives the circularity of our business model from the core.

In addition, we are continuously improving our sustainability performance by re-using our carriers as efficiently as possible, by reducing our transport kilometres and energy consumption and by recycling our carriers at end-of-life. In 2021, implementation of these projects continued, and our progress clearly shows in the results.

Table 1: CO2 emission at EPS and LPR11 Carbon footprint

 

In 2021, at EPS the carbon footprint per movement was reduced by 14.9% compared to 2017. Most of this reduction was realised in depots and storage. This can be explained by the transition to green energy and the installation of energy-efficient equipment. Emissions resulting from transport increased compared to the baseline. This is due to the continuous expansion of EPS across Europe, including the Nordics, which initially extended transport distances to deliver and collect trays.

Furthermore, the implementation of Project Cyan caused temporary inefficiencies in transport that were driven by the introduction of the green trays and the phasing out of the blue trays. Moreover, Covid-19 negatively impacted the efficiency of our routings.

At LPR, the carbon footprint per movement was reduced by 8.5% compared to 2017. Our footprint was reduced because of concrete operational improvements. For example, the reduction in travel distances and the review of our routing after Brexit led to a lower carbon footprint per pallet movement.

Since most of LPR’s emissions are caused in the transport of our pallets, we collaborate closely with our transport partners to reduce these, for example by engaging in initiatives as Lean&Green and FRET21.

Transition to green energy

In 2021, 78.6% of all EPS depots had green energy contracts in place, and this resulted in a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 9,000 tonnes. With this result we came close to our goal of running 80% of our depots on green energy. For the remaining depots, green energy contracts are not always available. Moreover, some of our depots are located on our customers’ premises, which means that we are not the owner of the energy contracts.

Therefore, we need to collaborate with our customers to go green. We aim to have all new depots running on green energy in 2022.

At LPR, we are also working towards increasing the share of green energy in our service centres. Most new service centres are directly equipped with solar panels to generate green electricity for our operations. Our goal is to run all our service centres on green energy by 2025. 

Project Cyan

In Project Cyan we are replacing the rigid blue trays by a new generation of foldable green trays. The green trays take up less volume when folded than the blue model that is currently being phased out. Fewer trucks are needed in transport and there are more opportunities to combine transports. By making use of synergies in international transport, we minimise the number of assets that are standing still, for instance in flattening peaks by making use of complementary seasonal effects. This results in a significant reduction in transport movements and hence in CO2 emissions. Project Cyan was started in 2021, and early in 2022 we finalised the transition to green trays. All markets and clients that we targeted are now equipped with green trays. A key challenge in the transition was to have sufficient green trays on stock and available at the right location.

This was a major logistical operation that required extensive preparation and planning. Furthermore, the washing process at certain depots was adapted to handle the new trays.

Since the start of Project Cyan, rigid blue trays were returned to EPS, grinded and then recycled. The blue trays are grinded at mobile grinding devices that are available at some of our depots, or directly at the recycling plant. The grinded material that is obtained is of very high quality and received EFSA approval in line with strict food safety criteria. The grinded material can therefore be used to produce recycled packaging in the food sector and moreover for the production of new EPS trays.

Reforestation

In 2021, LPR’s partnerships with Plantons pour l’Avenir continued. A total of 14,800 trees were planted to revive fourteen hectares of deforested areas in France. Planting trees allows us to neutralise the carbon footprint of the wood that we use for our pallets as well as the greenhouse gas emissions that we generate with our business activities. Last year, we compensated 2,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which equals 2% of our pallet footprint.


In 2021, 84% of the wood that LPR used for its pallets was PEFC-certified. This is a slight improvement compared to 2020. Of the remaining 16%, most of the wood is FSC-certified, and we will start to monitor the exact proportion from 2022. All the wood that is labelled non-certified still complies with the PEFC criteria on ‘controlled origin’, which means that we have been carefully checking its origin as part of our Due Diligence System for wood sourcing.