That is the view of Karl Feilder, chief executive of DHL Neutral Services, a subsidiary of the delivery giant set up to improve the efficiency of both DHL's and its customers' supply chains.
It is a daunting task considering that DHL has set itself the ambitious target of cutting emissions by 30 percent by 2020 — a task made more challenging by that fact that the company's global operations span 220 countries and boast 400 aircraft, 170,000 staff, 4,500 warehouses and other properties, and thousands of trucks.
With a huge chunk of its carbon footprint resulting from transport, Feilder accepts that the company's emission targets are challenging, but he insists they are achievable as long as DHL addresses the entire supply chain.
"It's about making a lot of small changes," he says. "By focusing ruthlessly on carbon reduction in all parts of the supply chain we think we can do it."
Every reduction project DHL has undertaken as part of the initiative has also resulted in a reduction in operating costs, according to Feilder, providing executives with the business case to push ahead with the program.
He explains that the company's emission reduction program has been divided into four areas: assessment, reduction, replacement and neutralization.
Assessment of a supply chain's carbon footprint can be very difficult, according to Feilder.
"Between a grower and a retail store there can be as many as 47 companies involved," he explains. "And each of their carbon metrics change every day, so getting accurate numbers is very difficult."
Rather than manually assessing the carbon outputs at all these points in the supply chain and feeding them into a computer system, DHL Neutral Services is installing IT systems that will collect the information and process it automatically — so any changes are monitored in real time.
"Bad data seeds could mean you end up hedge-buying fuel when you don't need it, or vice-versa — the information needs to be up to date and accurate," says Feilder.