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Tech6.19.2024
7 min read

Tips for sustainability managers: How to drive the transformation of freight

Tech6.19.2024
7 min read

Tips for sustainability managers: How to drive the transformation of freight

If you are a sustainability manager, there’s a strong likelihood that you want to help your organization cut down on freight emissions by leveraging intelligent technologies. Here, we share some practical advice for sustainability managers eager to slash their company’s CO2e emissions – including the four stages of transformative stakeholder engagement. 

Sustainability managers don’t have an easy job. They have to grapple with limited budgets, a constantly shifting regulatory landscape, and a plethora of business considerations raised by numerous stakeholders. Yet at the same time, their work is more important than ever. 

Businesses around the world are ramping up their ESG initiatives, with many chasing ambitious CO2e reduction targets for 2030 and beyond. Sustainability managers play a pivotal role in guiding these organizations through the complex landscape of environmental, social, and governance challenges. 

Einride’s US-based Senior Director of Solution Architecture, Isabelle Ji, knows from firsthand experience that sustainability managers are agents of change. She has helped facilitate numerous deals for Einride, leading to the deployment and operation of hundreds of electric heavy-duty vehicles in the United States.

“As a customer-facing Einride representative, I’ve had a front-row view of the hard work that sustainability managers do. Their work involves navigating complex stakeholder dynamics and overcoming numerous challenges. I am continually inspired by the remarkable individuals who excel in these vital roles, demonstrating their exceptional commitment to a sustainable future.” 

Be a driver of dialogue, a champion for change

Isabelle has observed a common trait among the successful partnerships between Einride and its shipper customers: “Successful sustainability managers excel at fostering dynamic and energizing collaborations with key stakeholders within their organizations, including operations, procurement, facilities and leadership teams.”

“There is so much reason for excitement given the current state of technology and the overall business case.

She explains the key role sustainability managers play in accelerating electrification projects by opening constructive and transparent dialogue with these cross-functional teams: “Decarbonizing transportation isn't the responsibility of just one department. It's a collaborative effort involving various teams with diverse roles, all working towards a common goal that impacts different business imperatives.”

Spread the word: Now is the time

There’s a range of compelling reasons why businesses should focus specifically on transforming transportation. These include increasing regulations – such as city diesel bans – as well as new reporting requirements around Scope 3 emissions, and the fact that it’s not a “band-aid” or temporary fix, like the controversial practice of carbon offsetting

What happens if one is trying to bring change to an organization that is hesitant to implement change? Well, Isabelle has seen how transformative it can be to have a sustainability champion bring energy and excitement to their colleagues: “There is so much reason for excitement given the current state of technology and the overall business case. The fact is: the time to make the switch is now. Sustainability managers are in an excellent position to elevate this message to the top of their organization, demonstrating that it can be accomplished with the technology available today.”

Assign a benchmark price for carbon reduction

Drawing from past customer successes, Isabelle recommends that sustainability managers assign an internal value to the price of carbon reduction if their organization doesn’t refer to one already. Internal carbon pricing has become an increasingly common practice for many businesses – from SMEs to large enterprises – and it helps put discussions in context throughout the stages of dialogue. 

One particularly large global business Einride has been in discussion with currently prices every metric ton of CO2e successfully abated at approximately $300. Alternatively, businesses could use the benchmark set by the Environmental Protection Agency of $204 per metric ton in 2023. 

“However you choose to create a figure to benchmark against, this will become critical for your ROI analysis. It’s worthwhile to do this because it supports the fundamental notion that carbon reduction has intrinsic value,” says Isabelle. 

Stakeholder engagement: The four stages of freight transformation

Isabelle has observed four common stages as an organization goes from learning about intelligent road freight to actually having wheels on the road – moving goods without direct emissions. 

Learning

Onboard yourself to the technology and get a snapshot of your business

In the initial stage, you will benchmark your current emissions and set an internal carbon price if needed. It’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the infrastructure needed for electric freight operations and why now is the time to switch. Einride can help with a high-level cost-benefit analysis and other key business case components.

Developing

Onboard your colleagues, source budgets, and confirm the business case

By this stage, you have selected implementing electric freight as one of the key sustainability initiatives, initially on a smaller scale but with a pipeline for scaling. You can confidently receive inputs, iron out hesitations or concerns, find ways to address challenges (with the support of Einride, when needed), and gather buy-ins from colleagues. Speak to the teams responsible for transport operations, transport procurement, and (where relevant) research and innovation – and become familiar with their goals and budgets, since funding for diesel-free freight may come from more than one business unit.

Leading

Build out freight decarbonization policies with a clear path to scaling

By now, sustainability should ideally be a key requirement for sourcing transportation from vendors. It could be through a request for proposal (RFP) in which sustainability is a highly rated evaluation criterion – or you may carve out a separate process that specifically focuses on non-fossil-fuel transportation. Continue working cross-functionally to refine the details of a sustainable transport policy and answer any queries. Once a policy is set in place, the business progresses to the final stage of stakeholder engagement.

Transforming

Oversee the implementation of electric and cost-effective transportation

The final stage sees the preparation for deployment through to the go-live. Once the wheels hit the road, your business is capturing immediate value as it switches from fossil fuels to sustainable transportation – reducing GHG emissions by up to 95% and eliminating harmful NOx and SOx from your value chain. Sustainability managers continue to play a critical role, as the focus shifts towards scaling up the transformation via subsequent waves; these are outlined in your longer-term roadmap for cost-effective transformation.

Four stages of transformative stakeholder management

Einride is your transformation partner

While stakeholder management is imperative, Isabelle reiterates that sustainability managers don’t have to navigate the dialogue alone: “Einride is your transformation partner. We can certainly help you prepare a strong business case that outlines all the key proof points that are relevant for your colleagues.”

Businesses can leverage Einride’s unique expertise from operating some of the largest fleets of heavy-duty electric vehicles in North America and Europe. They will also benefit from a “one-stop” turnkey solution that enables them to deploy electric freight operations without complexity or costly CAPEX investments. Einride takes care of everything you need, including vehicles, charging infrastructure, drivers, operational resources, and digital intelligence. For businesses that wish to continue working with current carrier partners, our specialists will explore ways to potentially continue working with them while deploying electric transportation with Einride. 

Isabelle’s message to sustainability managers is to keep bringing optimism and energy to their organizations, despite the challenging nature of their role: “You are doing the research, you’re educating your colleagues, and you’re forging internal collaboration and breaking down silos. The work you do makes an impact.”

Isabelle’s top 5 tips for sustainability managers

  1. Understand the technology: Familiarize yourself with the necessary physical and digital tech/infrastructure for electric freight operations and study how industry-leading businesses are leveraging Einride’s turnkey solution.

  2. Develop a business case: Connect with an Einride representative to build a compelling business case, highlighting the benefits of scaling electric freight operations over other decarbonization methods.

  3. Foster cross-functional dialogue: Establish a forum for cross-functional discussions. Einride representatives can help onboard and educate your colleagues for a collaborative approach to transforming freight operations.

  4. Set an internal carbon price: If not already set, determine an internal price for carbon reduction. Consult with colleagues to establish a figure or use the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2023 benchmark of $204 per metric ton of abated carbon.

  5. Prioritize sustainability in RFPs: Make sustainability a key evaluation criterion in your request for proposal (RFP) or create an RFP for non-diesel freight operations. For assistance at any step, speak to an Einride solution architect – we’re here to help!

———

Discover more insights from Isabelle Ji in our Einride Webinar on demand: “Why now is the time to make the switch”. To learn more about the process of going electric with Einride, read our 6 steps to intelligent and sustainable road freight

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