About Sustaining Voices

Sourcing Journal’s Sustaining Voices celebrates the efforts the apparel industry is making toward securing a more environmentally responsible future through creative innovations, scalable solutions and forward-thinking initiatives that are spinning intent into action.


DHL is greening the last mile with electric vehicles and more.

Deep Dive

At-home deliveries are great for Internet shoppers. For the climate, not so much. Each click of the “purchase” button sends another diesel-powered vehicle trundling toward someone’s doorstep, causing congestion and spewing pollution in its wake.

DHL, for one, wants to clear the air.

This year, the logistics giant will be rolling out 63 new electric delivery vehicles for its U.S. markets, adding to an “already robust” alternative-vehicle fleet that includes 10 Tesla semi-trucks.

Produced by equipment manufacturer Workhouse Group, the series of NGEN-1000 electric delivery cargo vans have been built to be among the “safest, most efficient last-mile delivery and work truck systems” available. They’re capable of running up to 100 miles on a charge and feature a high-roof design that packs in 1,008 cubic feet of cargo space in a limited footprint.

This year alone, nearly 30 percent of DHL’s new vehicles in the United States will be powered by alternative fuel. The move will nudge the company closer to its target of operating 70 percent of first- and last-mile delivery services with “clean pickup and delivery solutions” (such as bikes and electric vehicles) by 2025, and its longer-term corporate commitment of zero logistics-related emissions by 2050.

DHL describes its efforts as part of its “pioneering stance” on many environmental issues. It was the first logistics firm to establish its own certified carbon-offset program, the first in many markets to offer customers carbon-free shipping and the first to develop its own electric vehicle—the zero-emissions StreetScooter—in Germany, where it operates the country’s largest electric utility fleet.

“As an industry leader, we have made a determined effort to show leadership on environmental responsibility and to inspire a greener future within the logistics industry, too,” said Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express U.S.A.

In what areas has the fashion industry made the biggest strides in sustainability in the last five years?

“The fashion industry has proven itself to be both: a) highly innovative in its adoption of pioneering new technologies and its approach to supply-chain management and b) proactive in addressing the sustainability challenges that come with global supply chains and the production, consumption and disposal of textiles.

The industry has many lighthouse examples of designers and brands that are leading the way on environmental activism, such as Patagonia and Vivienne Westwood. It has done a great job of raising awareness of the challenges that the world faces and the urgency of addressing those challenges.

Most progress to date has probably been made in creating more transparency around supply chains, which has in turn led to more efficiency in how materials are sourced, processed and moved. This offers the incentive of reducing costs for companies but has the additional benefit of reducing emissions. The area with arguably the biggest potential for more impact in the coming years—although we should point out that some strides have already been taken here—is in creating more circular supply chains for fashion goods, ensuring that materials are reused, repurposed or recycled while reducing the large amount of waste the industry creates.”

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