Sustainable Logistic Chains: A clean business

For ever more manufacturers, sustainable and socially-aware production is part of their corporate philosophy. However, a green value-creation chain certainly does not end at the factory floor. Companies which also attach importance to being environmentally-friendly, to quality and to social standards in logistics are in exactly the right place at Rhenus. We will be pleased to show you how fair and sustainable logistics can be – even for goods which need to travel long distances.

Rainforest lakes in the shape of world continents. Environmentally friendly sustainable development concept. 3D illustration.

Do you produce textiles in Bangladesh for the European market? We can organise the transportation of your container goods by ship to the port of Rotterdam, for example. Not only are e-cars used there but, as of this summer, we have also been using a particularly sustainable heavyweight – our fully-electric harbour crane which can lift 125 tons whilst, at the same time, reducing both emissions and noise.

After transshipment by inland waterway or rail, the container commences its ongoing journey to the mainland. By combining modes of transport, we can often more than halve CO2 emissions, compared to direct truck transport. “By linking green solutions from our business areas, we have the opportunity to create an end-to-end sustainable transportation and supply chain”, states Rhenus board member, Michael Brockhaus.

However, for some products, speed is of the essence and the sea route is unsuitable. Here, too, we can find a green alternative for you. Do you manufacture electronic devices in Asia or sensitive pharmaceutical products in North America? Even with long-distance flights, we are able to ensure that your products cross the ocean in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.


Green air freight

With RHEGREEN, the world’s first programme to reduce carbon dioxide in air freight, we are reducing CO2 emissions by up to 40%. How does this work? “Based on the respective route, our free service compares the types of cargo-aircraft used with each other and is thus able to identify the flight with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions”, reports Ellen Visser, Rhenus Corporate Communications Manager in the Netherlands. On a flight from Shanghai to Amsterdam, for instance, one ton of carbon dioxide can be saved on a shipment weight of 1,000 kilogrammes alone!

After arriving at Amsterdam airport, our drivers can take the goods to the Rhenus warehouse in Tilburg by means of electro-trucks. Once there, we have reached one of the world’s most sustainable industrial buildings, according to the BREEAM Certification. Our logistics warehouse in Tilburg, which features large window fronts, has an elliptical and futuristic appearance. The distribution warehouse, which was opened in 2018, draws its electricity from over 13,600 solar modules on the roof – this not only covers our own needs, but also provides energy for 750 households.

Tilburg proves that man and machine can form a unit in which the employees benefit from the technology. With the AutoStore robot-supported storage and picking system, 19 robots load more than 20,000 containers with countless products.


Efficient handling processes

As soon as a customer orders the stored goods, picking begins. To ensure that the automatic and manual processes are carried out efficiently, whilst also minimising the physical strain on employees, an innovative solution is used which was developed by a German start-up named MotionMiners. After all, social responsibility also includes the working conditions.

Finally, an automated packing machine places the ordered products into cardboard boxes. The advantage of this is that every box is individually designed for the respective product, thus saving the use of packing materials, such as plastic. When the packaging is completed, our warehouse employees transport the box using electric forklifts to the crossdock area, from where the goods are distributed throughout Europe.

When distributing via our network, we individually document the CO2 consumption of each shipment – the high network density ensures efficient distribution. We are also able to document the ecological impact of parcel and special transportation. On this basis, our customers can further improve their supply chain.


Michael Brockhaus, Rhenus board member: “It is not only big investments, such as a new all-electric harbour crane, or an e-truck fleet, which make for green logistics. Every employee can also contribute by using resources, such as energy, paper and water, responsibly in everyday office life. Energy is decisive for our CO2 footprint at our contract logistics locations. Using our Gießen site as an example, it can be seen what energy-saving on a large scale means; the electricity saved by replacing fluorescent tubes with LED light sources can actually supply more than 35 detached houses with energy every year and enables a rapid amortisation of the conversion costs”.

"We can already conduct low-carbon transports today"

  1. The goods reach the port and are handled by a fully electric crane.
  2. On-carriage transport is carried out by inland waterway or rail.
  3. The Rhenus warehouse is accessed by electric truck or overhead hybrid truck.
  4. Many Rhenus warehouses, such as the one in Tilburg, are built and equipped in a sustainable manner.
  5. Some employees reach their workplace by job bike.
  6. Some of the goods are brought to the airport by CEP service providers who ship climate-neutrally.
  7. Consignments can be sent by an aircraft whose route has been determined to be particularly climate-friendly on the basis of RHEGREEN.