Greenhouse gases

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Climate Action
  • Partnership For The Goals
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  4. Reducing transport emissions

Reducing transport emissions

Better routes, more efficient vehicles, alternative fuels. We’re looking at all the options so we can continue reducing our emissions from transport.

Lorry in Netherlands

To the moon & back again twice every day

Our logistics network transports our finished goods over 1.5 billion kilometres each year from our factories to where they’re sold – that’s the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back twice every day.

Our transport CO2 emissions are equal to our emissions from manufacturing. Our transport management team focus on continually increasing the efficiency in the distribution of our finished products. They explore a range of sustainable transport options to reduce CO2 emissions, cut costs, and get our products to customers on time.

Greenhouse gases statistics

Measured 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017

The transport sector is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels which means that as our business grows, our CO2 emissions from transport are also at risk of increasing. We’ve been working to break this correlation and we’re seeing results. Since 2010, we’ve achieved a 31% reduction improvement in our CO2 efficiency through reducing the overall number of kilometres travelled, avoiding wasted journeys and switching to greener transport options.

We usually don’t own the vehicles, trains and boats used to transport our raw materials and finished goods, so we work closely with our suppliers and operators to integrate sustainability initiatives. We’re also involved in several cross-sector sustainable transport initiatives aimed at creating change at regional and national levels.

Percentage improvement in CO2 efficiency in our global logistics network since 2010

How do you design an efficient logistics network?

This starts with selecting the right locations for our distribution centres, to allow efficient transportation from our factories and to our customers. When using road transport, we plan each journey to establish the most efficient route, so we can reduce the number of kilometres travelled and avoid empty trucks on the road.

We pay close attention to how we load each lorry, making sure we use the maximum space available and/or weight allowed (known as optimising fill rates). To help with this, we are standardising our pallet sizes and introduced double-decker trailers in some markets, which can hold more products. Our ‘Big Bang’ project in Europe, for example, includes a focus on using trucks and pallets efficiently. In 2017, the project increased truck load fill rates by 2%, meaning more products transported on each journey and fewer truck journeys overall.

In China, we reviewed the transportation of one of our ice-cream brands. Through making changes to the pallet size – adding one extra layer – we increased our load fill by 11%, creating savings of €500,000 as well as reducing our CO2 emissions.

Technical innovation also has a role in creating a logistics network that’s as efficient as possible. In the US for example, we use thermal insulated blankets that enable some temperature sensitive shipments to be transported in normal trailers. The blankets reduce our energy use by keeping products at the right temperature without refrigeration, saving a significant amount of CO2 compared with traditional temperature-controlled trailers.

Driver behaviour can make a big difference to fuel use on road journeys, so we’re also piloting an education programme in our LATAM business, focusing on eco-efficient driving techniques.

Making the switch to rail and sea

We can make big reductions in CO2 emissions by switching from road journeys to rail and sea freight, known as intermodal transport. This can often cut costs too.

In 2017, for example, we switched to sea and rail freight for 60% of journeys between the UK and our Fauverney distribution centre in France, and our Bydgoszcz centre in Poland. This is reducing CO2 emissions by 45% per journey between France and the UK, and 29% between Poland and the UK. In total, this has saved over €200,000. And in China, transportation by rail increased to 55% in 2017, and several road routes have been replaced by sea routes.

Where rail or sea routes are not feasible, we’re continuing to optimise how we transport goods by road. In 2017, for example, we implemented double decking in the Philippines for both primary and secondary transport, which allowed us to halve the loading and unloading time and resulted in a 16% load fill improvement, consequently helping us to reduce our CO2 emissions.


Driver using smart phone app

New technology is cutting carbon - & costs

Every year, US lorries drive 50 billion miles with no cargo, which amounts to 28% of the total distance they travel.1 This inefficiency adds to CO2 emissions and also means loss of potential revenue for drivers.

We’ve been involved in developing a technological solution to this challenge which is creating positive results for our business and lorry drivers. New Digital Freight Matching (DFM) technology uses smartphone apps to connect companies who need to transport goods, with small trucking providers who have spare capacity. It then automatically arranges, tracks and reports on the shipment.

By matching goods ready for shipment with available space, DFM can reduce the number of empty trucks travelling, cutting traffic and ultimately CO2 emissions. Studies show that this software could reduce ‘empty miles’ travelled by 10%. In 2017, we extended our pilot from three to 15 countries, and aim to introduce DFM across all our markets. DFM adds flexibility to our supply chain, making it easier and quicker to find drivers. It also reduces our costs because the fees are less than traditional brokerage fees.

Our partnership with DFM providers allows us to jointly shape the future of on-demand road transport while adding flexibility into our supply chain. It benefits lorry drivers too, many of whom are small business owners. It is easier for drivers to find jobs and they get paid more quickly, with fewer empty loads – improving their livelihoods.

Using alternative fuels to cut CO2 emissions

There is great potential for alternative fuels to help us cut CO2 emissions from our trucks and reduce our costs. We’re conducting alternative fuel trials around the world, including in the US, Europe, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Argentina, China and Russia.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) has many advantages compared with diesel: it produces 11% less CO2, 95% less particulate matter and often it’s cheaper. Trucks that run on LNG are also quieter – producing 50% less noise pollution. LNG has the potential to be used as a fuel for long-haul transportation in Europe, however a lack of fuelling stations is a major obstacle. There is an ongoing collaboration with the EU Commission to address the environmentally friendly transport solutions on a larger scale.

In the US, we are using compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative to diesel. We are now running over 50 trucks in this way. Along with CNG, we are also looking at adopting the electric vehicles for our transportation needs.

Although CNG and LNG have many benefits compared to diesel, they are a good first step in our goal towards developing a low-carbon road transport network rather than the long-term solution. We need fuels that will enable us to achieve even bigger cuts in our CO2 emissions. We see CNG and LNG as transition fuels while we explore and develop more sustainable fuel sources, such as hydrogen and biogas. We will continue to explore these alternatives, and address obstacles to their use such as gaps in worldwide infrastructure, technology, and the availability of sufficiently powerful engines.

1 The Economist:

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