We interviewed Fernando Giménez-Guervós, CEO of EccoFreight – a company dedicated to sustainable cargo transport for the environment – to talk about corporate social responsibility and sustainability in their organization and sector.
Ecco-Freight has been focused on sustainability in the logistics chain since 2014, among the actions they have developed is the application Eccoprint. Could you please tell us about this initiative?
Eccoprint is a software we developed when the company was founded; our idea was to calculate emissions and we have developed it until we have managed not only to calculate emissions, but also calculate potential reductions; in this way we can offer customers alternative ways of transport, to help them drive efficiencies in their transport.
Among your projects to achieve a more sustainable logistics operation, is also ‘Eccologistics 360′, what does this consist of?
Eccologistics 360 is like a kind of Ecco-Freight spin off. Firstly, our intention is that the customers that do not perform their transport directly with Ecco-Freight, can nonetheless have access to our Eccoprint tool. Through the information provided by their suppliers and our digital platform Eccologistics 360, we can provide them with the possibility of calculating their routings and to calculate and measure their own emissions. It is a tool that has been developed to allow the client through their supplier to have access to these emissions.
What percentage of emissions reduction do you achieve?
We have made an estimation of between 10% and 15% depending on the type of route and the means of transport. However, the total calculation at the end of the year is, easily, a minimum of 10% in reductions with regards to the selection of efficient alternatives. Where it is especially effective it is in maritime transport where there are many alternative routes. For example, the users can choose a more direct route, with less transit time and it can also calculate the type of fuel used by the shipping company.
The most interesting aspect for companies is that this allows them understand what kind of supplier they are working with and also allows these suppliers to identify what carbon footprint they are leaving in the environment…
Yes. We give them the awareness of what their transports are emitting, what their carbon footprint is. They then have the possibility of performing traceability of their emissions and make reduction plans that are consistent with their company’s CSR plan. The truth is, the result of all this is quite impressive.
What other CSR and sustainability projects are you currently working on?
In the sustainability section we are developing a new service, a new company, another spin-off of Ecco-Freight, called EccoNetwork. This is potentially scheduled for roll out in June. Every time we attend an international congress, we arouse a lot of interest in our competitors or companies similar to ours who want to give their customers the same added value that we able to provide our clients with. To this end, we are planning to create an international network, a network of companies similar to ours, in the same sector, whose objective is also to transmit environmental awareness to their clients through carbon footprint and reduction plans.
That is in terms of sustainability. Then, in terms of social responsibility, for us social responsibility has already become a fundamental part of the company’s strategy. At the beginning of the year, in Ecco-Freight we always discuss the upcoming year’s financial strategy, commercial strategy, business development strategy and CSR strategy.
This year we are investing a lot in training courses for our managers in the field of sustainability, so they can also improve their knowledge and expertise. We then encourage our managers to share this knowledge and expertise with our clients.
We also collaborate closely with an NGO, – Olvidados (The Forgotten) – which aims to provide aid to the “forgotten” children in Madrid. Personally, I really like collaborating with NGOs where you can see the effects of your aid in a very close and very transparent way. We can visit them and see up front what they are offering the children, for example grants for meals. We meet with them very often and the truth is it’s always an extremely satisfying experience.
We also have initiatives such as beach cleaning. This year, in June, we will be cleaning beaches on the Cádiz coastline, an action that also serves as team building exercise. We will all go there to perform this cleaning in collaboration with the local council. In addition, it is a beach cleaning plan that does not consist of going to clean it and leave, but it is a permanent and continuous support for the beach, which will to create tools for the continuous maintenance of the cleaning process.
Those are some things that we are undertaking.
How has the evolution of your CSR policy been from its early beginning until now?
For us, CSR is part of the company’s strategy and the truth is that we have been improving through learning. We have been learning a lot and the size of our company allows us to adapt to new circumstances, as well as change and modify aspects in a lean and effective way, depending on the nature of urgency of the product.
We have also been adapting to what society is demanding. Right now sustainability is very much in vogue, but we have been doing it since our foundation. The name itself Ecco-Freight links you in a permanent way with that goal of being eco-friendly. But yes, we are evolving, we are learning and we are adapting to what is also emerging. But for us, as I say, it is a fundamental part of the company’s strategy.
How do you see the situation of social responsibility in your sector? What are your challenges?
I believe much is being done in our sector. Especially considering that our sector is responsible for a very high percentage of greenhouse gas emissions through the transport by road, rail, air and sea.
The truth is that large companies are investing a lot in the development of new fuels, new port technologies, new software … airlines are also working hard on reducing emissions. I believe this year the reduction in emissions were estimated to be around 9%.
In shipping transport, which is particularly close to my heart, I know that much is being done. Especially in the field of new fuels, which reduce the percentage of sulphur. A lot of work is also being done on filters, developing new technologies to help reduce the levels of sulphur that pollutes the oceans.
And in road transport, I also know that there are many new alternatives that are being offered, such as natural gas transport or transport electrification. However, it is a subject that’s making slow progress.
But I do know that in our sector, in the transport sector to call it that in a generic way, there is a great deal of mobilization and a lot is being done. There is a great conscience, but that conscience must be transferred to the final user, because in the end the client is the one who chooses which is the means of transport, how they want to do it, which route. In the case of Ecco-Freight, we do not impose on the client what they have to do, they are the ones that decide. We can offer them the alternatives and they are the ones that ultimately make the decision, also based on economic factors, of course.
What are EccoFreight’s future plans in this area?
We are a very young company, we are only six years old. So for us, the future is to continue consolidating our services.
I have a strong focus on R+D, because I believe it is the fundamental part to continue to be able to contibute new tools and advancing, above all, in technologies that we can transfer to our clients to make life easier for them. In the end, they are the one that have to reduce and we are the ones who have to offer them the tools. We will continue to work on offering innovative tools to achieve this.