Interviews with MHC Customers

GLS Poland - the road to sustainable logistics

The logistics industry is inextricably linked to environmental challenges. Therefore, more and more companies are setting themselves the goal of minimising the negative impact of their activities on the ecosystem. One of these companies is GLS Poland, which has been taking concrete steps towards a sustainable future for a long time. We speak to Aleksandra Kiersztyn, environmental manager at GLS Poland, to find out what measures the company is taking to protect the environment and what challenges it faces on the road to more sustainable logistics.

  • The logistics industry, including courier services, often imposes significant burdens on the natural environment. What specific measures is GLS Poland taking to minimize the negative impact of its operations on the environment?

    Since 2008, the GLS Group has been implementing the Think Green initiative, coordinating various actions actively supporting environmental protection in three areas: responsible use of resources, waste management optimization, and emission reduction. Today, sustainable development is an integral part of our strategy under the Climate Protect program. Currently, 85% of our energy comes from renewable sources. The GLS fleet, equipped with e-vans and courier bicycles, is expanding. For example, every third bus operating for GLS Poland in Białystok now has electric drive. In Warsaw, electric vehicles already constitute 30% of the fleet.

    We are gradually replacing GLS employee cars with environmentally friendly ones. Our fleet already includes hybrid cars, and recently, 24 new electric models have been added. Step by step, the entire GLS Group aims for zero emissions, with the ambition to achieve it by 2045. A crucial step in this direction will be the 100% electrification of the company's official car fleet by 2030.

    Our efforts towards zero emissions have been recognized, and in 2023, the GLS Group ranked among the top 8% of the best companies in the logistics industry in terms of sustainable development, receiving a Silver Medal in the prestigious international Eco Vadis ranking. We were distinguished specifically for the environmental and ethical aspects of our activities.
  • What challenges do you face as a logistics company in Poland regarding the implementation of more sustainable practices, considering the current challenges related to infrastructure and technology?

    Logistics companies aiming to implement more sustainable practices must consider both infrastructural and economic aspects. A barrier to faster transition to zero-emission transport is the limited availability of suitable technologies, primarily the still insufficient number of public charging stations. Additionally, there is still a perception that electric vehicles have a much shorter range than diesel vehicles. In the near future, the operational efficiency of electric vehicles should increase, allowing for greater use, especially in suburban areas.

    Concerns also exist in the industry about the continued use of low- or zero-emission vehicles after the end of leasing. It is not entirely clear whether such a vehicle can be sold and whether there will be any demand for used electric cars. However, companies are increasingly focusing on the fleets of transport partners and prefer collaboration with those who can provide services using low- and zero-emission vehicles. The transportation market is adapting to new technologies, and better car models are emerging. Like us, many companies are investing in their charging infrastructure, ensuring energy independence. Economic considerations also play a role. The initial costs of zero-emission technologies are often higher, but technological progress and innovations can lead to lower production and purchasing costs for environmentally friendly vehicles, influencing their popularity. Moreover, regulations such as emission restrictions, subsidies, tax incentives, or bans on combustion engine vehicles can encourage companies to invest in greener solutions, even if they are initially more expensive. The internal environmental policies of companies and strategies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions may also encourage collaboration with partners actively taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Collaborating with MHC Mobility for the electrification of the fleet is a step towards a sustainable future. What were the main factors that led GLS Poland to collaborate with MHC Mobility for the electrification of the vehicle fleet?

    Sustainable development in logistics is possible, thanks in part to companies that support such solutions and have extensive experience in the field. The choice of MHC Mobility was primarily influenced by its long-standing practice, expertise in electromobility, and the company's leading position as a fleet services provider. Professional advice was also crucial, enabling GLS to obtain grants from the "Mój elektryk" program, which aims to reduce air pollution emissions by financing initiatives to reduce the consumption of emission fuels in transport.

  • Electromobility is becoming increasingly important for sustainable development, but there are still challenges in Poland related to charging infrastructure and the range of electric vehicles. What strategies does GLS Poland adopt to implement solutions consistent with the principles of sustainable development in the face of these challenges?

    One of GLS's priorities is the expansion of electric vehicle charging stations at its branches, supporting the development of electric vehicle fleets for its transport partners. Currently, we have 156 charging points in 22 locations and are continually expanding in this area. Soon, we plan to install the first fast-charging station at the HUB in Stryków. However, given the size of our fleet, some electric vehicles will need to be charged outside our branches. Therefore, in increasing the number of charging stations, we strive to be as flexible as possible and make the best use of available options. However, it is crucial for the number of public charging stations to grow dynamically, as there are currently too few in Poland, especially considering the steadily increasing number of electric vehicles. Therefore, we also rely on significant investments in publicly accessible fast-charging stations throughout the country.

  • What other innovative solutions or technologies is GLS Poland considering to further reduce the ecological footprint of its operations?

    We have ambitious plans for sustainable transport. Since April 2022, the GLS Group in Europe has been offsetting 100% of its CO2 emissions (excluding emissions from employees' commutes and investment goods). In seven years, we aim for half of our fleet to be low- and zero-emission. As a logistics company, we recognize that a revolution must take place in transportation, and we continually encourage our logistics partners to invest in low- and zero-emission vehicles, allowing them to charge at our branches, as mentioned earlier. We are also introducing courier bicycles. GLS Poland is also participating in pioneering projects aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in Polish cities. As part of a pilot project, GLS will collaborate with the Łukasiewicz - Poznań Institute of Technology on the implementation of the GRETA project. It involves the introduction of the first micro-transfer hub in Poznań, and GLS courier bicycles will deliver packages from the hub to the city center.

  • You rely on subcontractors to provide your services. Do you have any specific environmental protection requirements for them?

    Green transport is the future of logistics, including in Poland, so our company is particularly focused on the electrification of the fleet. We continuously monitor progress in the automotive market and encourage our partners to transition to low- and zero-emission fleets. We also see potential in the development of cargo bikes in logistics, offering a low-emission and resident-friendly transport solution, especially in the centers of large cities. We support customers who prefer this form of delivery.
  • What influenced the choice of the specific car model you ordered, such as the Renault Megane E-Tech?

    When choosing a new car model, we focused on parameters related to optimal energy use, as well as comfort and conveniences for drivers. The Renault Megane E-Tech 100% is the lightest car in its segment and can travel up to 450 km on a single charge. Additionally, the onboard computer automatically controls the temperature of the battery and engine to ensure optimal energy use and the fastest possible charging.

    These cars also feature 26 driving assistance systems, enhancing road safety. These include a digital rearview mirror, driver fatigue monitoring, a full package of 360˚ 3D cameras, a safe exit function, a lane departure warning system, and an emergency braking system when reversing connected with a reverse parking assistance system. We chose the option with the Winter and Advanced Driving Assist packages to adapt the car's behavior to road conditions. The safety of our employees is a priority in such choices.

  • Micro-mobility, including electric scooters and small urban vehicles, is becoming increasingly popular as means of transport in urban areas. Does GLS Poland plan to use such solutions in its delivery operations to improve delivery efficiency in areas with limited access for larger vehicles?

    Since 2020, GLS has been using courier bicycles for deliveries. We started in Krakow, expanded to Wrocław and Warsaw, and currently operate them in Poznań, Wrocław, Łódź, Gliwice, Zielona Góra, Władysławowo, Jastarnia, and three locations mentioned earlier. This form of delivery is dynamically developing, especially in the city centers, offering several advantages. Primarily, bicycles are zero-emission and noise-free, positively perceived by residents. Additionally, bicycles maneuver efficiently in densely built areas and places inaccessible to cars, and they are easier to park. Courier bicycle deliveries represent the future of logistics, particularly in crowded city centers, and the development of this transportation form will be supported by clean transport zones created by cities and the modernization of cycling infrastructure.

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