Exclusive interview: Bolloré Logistics, Sustainability Development Manager, Mathilde Dumoulin
As one of the world’s leading transport and logistics operators providing services across 106 countries on five continents, Bolloré Logistics is all too aware of its responsibility to ensure that those operations are sustainable.
Falling under the wider global organisation, Bolloré Transport & Logistics, Bolloré Logistics is one of four business units that consists of more than 20,200 staff and employees. The company has a clear vision – to be the leading provider of transport and logistics in each and every one of its geographical locations.
One particular area in which Bolloré Logistics has a major distribution network is Asia Pacific. It has a presence in 20 countries, including Singapore, where its main contract logistics hubs are situated.
For Sustainability Development Manager, Mathilde Dumoulin, Singapore is a key market for freight and logistics. “Besides its strategic location, Singapore is a great innovation hub,” she says. “The growth in Asia is also an opportunity for Bolloré Logistics to improve and to think more innovatively as we develop in this region.”
Particularly from a sustainability perspective, Singapore represents a fantastic pioneer location. The company engaged its sustainability strategy from 2010, by investing in the “Green Hub” – the first energy-efficient logistics facility in Singapore to receive the Green Mark Platinum and LEED Gold certifications.
Again pioneering low-emitting transport solutions in Singapore, Bolloré Logistics also introduced its first hybrid shuttle in March 2015. Powered by highly efficient diesel and electric motors, the truck serves iconic retail stores from the Green Hub. The hybrid technology reduces fuel consumption and harmful atmospheric emissions such as CO2 and suspended particles by up to 30%.
Those two key milestones reinforced Bolloré Logistics’ position as key actor for sustainable logistics in Singapore, combining economic growth with environmental protection.
With such a major logistical network, Bolloré Logistics invests a great deal into monitoring, improving and ultimately reducing its carbon footprint. This commitment was first structured at a global level in 2000 with the creation of the Group Code of Ethics.
For more than 18 years, Bolloré Logistics has had a sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda that has been implemented throughout every aspect of the business. In 2011, the company launched the “Save Program” – an eco-solutions program dedicated to its customers.
“Traditionally, CSR and sustainability have been viewed perhaps as a ‘nice to have’ activity,” says Dumoulin. “Bolloré Logistics has recognised it as a ‘must-have’, fully integrated into the entire operation. It has to be a core pillar of everything we are trying to achieve.”
This year, Bolloré Logistics is launching the "Powering Sustainable Logistics" programme. The Group has been structuring this new programme in collaboration with its internal and external stakeholders based on the ISO26000 approach. As part of a responsible supply chain, the group’s ambition is to integrate environmental, social and societal solutions across each link in their day-to-day operations, while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The programme sets targets for 2025, with first steps to be achieved by 2020. It is built around an ambitious roadmap that will guide the Group around four pillars: ensuring ethical and responsible business practices within the logistics value chain; acting as a committed employer for the teams; providing customers with sustainable supply chain solutions; strengthening relations with stakeholders wherever they operate. The programme is materialised through key performance indicators and related action plans.
These pillars are inspired by Bolloré Group’s global CSR strategy and applied to the specific case of logistics and its stakes, which Dumoulin feels enables a greater consistency between the big picture and the reality of the logistics business.
“The baseline of this strategy is that sustainable consumption is not only the responsibility of manufacturers,” she says. “Logistics companies also have a part to play through integrating CSR solutions in our freight and warehouse operations.”
On a daily basis, Bolloré Logistics calls upon a vast portfolio of suppliers and partners that both assist and support in the delivery of the company’s market leading services to its customers. These suppliers and the relationships that Bolloré Logistics fosters with them are also intrinsically linked to the sustainability agenda.
“There are several ways of selecting and partnering with suppliers,” she says. “You can choose the best suppliers from the start, but you still need to ensure that they are complying with our CSR criteria.”
“We ask them about their CSR practices from the very beginning, to ensure that we will work with people who are aware and have a solid process. We also spend time innovating and constantly improving partnerships. This is ideal for both parties because we can move forward together, communicating in a shared language.”
Sustainability is no doubt a global issue, where more and more countries are looking at improving their own processes; and there are of course some countries that are more mature than others. Thus, in the process of seeking out suppliers who can align to its sustainability agenda, Bolloré Logistics drives a second approach.
“If a supplier isn’t at the top of the sustainability generation, in addition to our mandatory CSR criteria, we go to them with the information and open up a dialogue,” says Dumoulin. “As a large group we have a responsibility to push and drive them to act and enable innovation. That’s one of the key to innovate. We share information and knowledge so that we can develop their sustainability capabilities and get them to come along with us on our journey.”
A cornerstone of Dumoulin and Bolloré Logistics’ vision for CSR is that it has to be entrenched within every aspect of the business. This has seen the company develop and foster an internal culture towards CSR, one that sees that each and every employee recognises the importance of viewing the sustainability agenda as a shared responsibility.
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“There has to be a buy in from everyone, and it starts at the top,” says Dumoulin. “It’s about communication – from the management team, right down to our operation warehouse teams, making everyone aware of our company ambition.”
Creating this on-going dialogue is crucial for Dumoulin, as she feels the secret to the success in delivering this vision is being able to pick any member of staff at random and ask, “what is a sustainable practice in their day-to-day job?”
If that employee has been ingrained within this culture of sustainability, then they can point to a number of examples of not only what they are doing, but also on what the impact is, and what the benefits are to the organisation. This, she feels, creates a level of confidence throughout Bolloré Logistics that the company is executing it successfully.
“It is going to get to a point where sustainability is just part of the company’s day-to-day operation,” she says. “People sometimes approach sustainability because they have been asked to, whereas Bolloré Logistics is reaching a stage where it’s not an additional responsibility, it’s just part of what we do.”
As a company that has been operating, rather successfully, for a number of years, Dumoulin stresses the importance of understanding that any change is a journey that will take time. Managing expectations and embracing change one step at a time will prove key in defining the company’s future, both from a sustainability perspective and with regards to expansion and growth.
But over the last few years Bolloré Logistics can already point to significant changes that represent proof that the company’s agenda is being implemented and changing the company for the better.
“To my knowledge, the implementation of the hybrid truck represents the only hybrid truck here in Singapore,” she says.
“Bolloré Logistics takes pride as a leader in green innovation and solutions. We are at the forefront of investing in green solution even when other companies are not quite on-board the idea, because we truly believe in the value of having a good CSR. Furthermore, it is also important that we stay in line with market demands and trends, because this is a journey that will continue to evolve and we must evolve with it.”