Grocers beat mileage target

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More than 53 million journey miles have been removed from UK roads since IGD’s Efficient Consumer Response (ECR UK) initiative on the Sustainable Distribution project started last year, smashing the 48 million mile target. That is the equivalent to removing 900 trucks from the roads or an annual saving of 26 million litres of fuel.

The initiative was set up to help reduce the environmental impact of transporting food and groceries and has seen a number of household brands begin to share vehicles and initiate more efficient warehousing.

Alastair Sykes, IGD president and UK chief executive of Nestlé, said: “These results are a significant achievement for the food industry and demonstrate the determination that exists among manufacturers and retailers to minimise our environmental impact.”

Participating companies include Unilever and Asda. Unilever used to deliver health and beauty products such as Dove, Lynx and Sure from its Doncaster hub to Asda’s distribution centre in Washington. Now, returning Asda vehicles pass through Doncaster to pick up the products directly and take them back to the DC, helping to take 50,000 miles off the road.

Similar projects include the collaboration between Kimberly-Clark and Kellogg’s, supported by TDG. The companies began working together in 2006 in the south of England, but have recently extended their partnership to cover the north of England and Scotland.

The collaboration means trucks can be filled to capacity with bulky cereal and snack products from Kellogg’s, along with Kimberly-Clark’s Andrex, Kleenex and Huggies brands, helping to reduce lorry loads to smaller retailers and take empty lorries off the roads. This in turn reduces distribution costs, increases delivery frequency and reduces road miles by 270,000.

Nestlé and United Biscuits is another example. The two companies have joined forces to create more efficient roundtrips, reducing the number of empty vehicles on the roads. As have Sainsbury’s and baby food supplier Organix, which have created a saving of 200,000 road miles.

Sykes added: “There will always be a need to transport food and grocery items from producers to shoppers, but there is certainly scope to do this more efficiently. This initiative has helped us achieve significant environmental and financial benefits.

“We are confident it will set the standard for future projects to improve the sustainability of our industry.”

Following the success of the project IGD and ECR UK have launched a practical support guide to transport collaboration, which aims to help businesses identify and implement opportunities to increase vehicle use, reduce road miles and lower transport costs through sharing transport resources and return journeys of vehicles.

Click here to download a copy of the report.

This is Sykes’ final year as president of IGD. He is set to stand down from his role in January 2009 and will be succeeded by Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King.

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