DPD’s 25-25-25 vision for a greener economy
DPD’s CEO Dwain McDonald on the opportunity for a green recovery.
It’s not every day that a company changes a successful and long-standing strategy. And as CEO, it’s not something I would ever do lightly. But after ten years of sticking to the same formula, that’s exactly what DPD did in January this year. Since 2010, our 1-2-3 strategy had determined every decision taken in the boardroom and beyond, propelling us from no.4 to no.1 in our market:
- Deliver the best service money can buy,
- Use the best technology available,
- Recruit, retain and develop the most customer-centric people.
But nearly a year ago, we developed a crucial new fourth element: ‘Be the UK’s Leader in Sustainable Delivery’, launching a comprehensive and dedicated website – DPD Green – to engage as many other stakeholders as possible.
The change in strategy followed our first major steps in our ‘green adventure’ – opening the UK’s first two all-electric depots in London in 2018. Since then we’ve moved rapidly through the gears on our journey towards decarbonisation.
Of the £100m we’re investing in new vehicles this year, a massive 20% has been spent on electric vehicles. We’ve added 561 EVs to our fleet since the start of 2020 and now have more than 700 at 74 depots nationwide, which means that 10% of all our volumes are now delivered totally emission-free. So, this year we’ll save 5,000 tonnes of CO2 versus 2019 – that’s the equivalent of planting 20,000 trees.
In short, as the UK’s fastest-growing major parcel carrier, CO2 emitted per parcel has now become as important to us as our right-first-time delivery rates.
Building back better
It feels like our new strategic direction is very in tune with the times. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, people have taken time to stop and think about how we can all deliver a more sustainable future. There is much talk in both national and international politics of ‘building back better’, of a ‘green industrial revolution’ and of ‘creating a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy’.
There’s a saying in the Far East that the definition of the word ‘crisis’ is ‘an opportunity riding a dangerous wind’… so perhaps the single biggest opportunity presented by Covid-19 is the chance to take a step back and reflect on what kind of planet we want to leave behind for our children and their children?
We’re already seeing huge enthusiasm for emission-free parcel delivery. Customers absolutely love it – shippers and shoppers alike. We’ve had companies switch to using DPD purely because we’re going green.
And I’ve lost count of how many consumers have taken to social media to shout about their driver turning up in a quiet, clean and green DPD vehicle rather than the diesel vans that all parcel carriers have been using for decades.
We’re moving faster than anyone else in our sector towards decarbonisation. We are on track to deliver over 10 million parcels emission-free by the end of 2020, up from just one million in 2019. The page I love most on green.dpd.co.uk is the one showing live stats of our emissions performance, including the following KPIs:
- Number of EVs on the road today (637);
- Parcels delivered YTD emission-free (nearly 7 million);
- YTD CO2 savings (over 3,000 tonnes) – the equivalent of planting 12,000 trees*
(*figures correct as of September 2020)
This page is also the most popular with the 70,000 unique visitors we’ve had on the site since January. If you think these figures are impressive, let me tell you that ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’. I’m asking our 18,000 people to think big and get behind a new 25-25-25 vision: to deliver 100m parcels a year (which will be 25% of our volumes) on all-electric vehicles in 25 UK cities by 2025.
The government needs to do more, more quickly
We’ve hit many unexpected bumps in the road so far on our journey to zero emissions. Bureaucratic red tape and outdated legislation have caused moments of genuine frustration. For example, getting permission to run The Paxster – an innovative EV from Norway – on the streets of London, or planning permission to use city-centre sites as electric micro-depots.
I raised these issues during a meeting with the Prime Minister last December and we’ve also asked him to encourage manufacturers to make more EVs at more affordable prices and to invest much more quickly in rolling out nationwide charging infrastructure.
DPD was also a major sponsor of the highly respected Low Carbon Vehicle Partner Annual Conference on 15 July when the keynote speaker was Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport. As a result, we’re now working with the Department for Transport and other key experts on a project to decarbonise transport. The government wants to ‘eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from every stage of the whole transport system’ and DPD is on a mission to help make that happen as fast as possible.
Innovation when the stakes are high
Pivoting a company in a new direction means taking risks. It means taking a chance on new and emerging technology. It means challenging old structures and ways of doing things. It means making sure your people are on board.
Our new strategic direction to be the UK’s most sustainable carrier has seen us taking several innovative steps forwards:
- Being the first operator to begin trials of the new VN5 Electric Van manufactured in Coventry by LEVC – famous for building London’s black cabs;
- We are also the first operator to begin trials of the Volta – the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne delivery vehicle;
- We’ve even developed our own zero emissions electric-assist cargo bike, the EAV P1, in collaboration with an Oxfordshire company whose background is in Formula 1;
- We’ve invested £52,300 in EV home chargers for our drivers (supported by the Government’s OLEV grant scheme);
- Through our innovative Eco-Fund, we’ve donated £140,000 this year from the sale of recycled shrink wrap and pallets to environmental good causes – mainly to support primary schools.
I’d like to think we’ve made a great start. But when it comes to the environment, the stakes could not be higher and to achieve our 25-25-25 Vision will require ever greater levels of imagination, teamwork and tenacity.