Protecting the Outdoors
From shipping our products, to running our offices, to lighting our stores, there are many things we do that contribute to global warming. Taking steps to reduce our climate impacts and finding ways to encourage our partners to do the same is a tall task—but one that we’re up to.

-- Download The Plan: Grow the Business, Shrink Emissions as PDF --

The Plan: Grow the Business, Shrink Emissions

The Plan: Grow the Business, Shrink Emissions

The Plan: Grow The Business, Shrink Emissions

It’s simply common sense. When you produce more goods, you have more to ship, and the more you ship, the more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are likely to be produced. So, while Timberland’s goal is always to increase our business and generate profits for our stakeholders, we also have specific goals around reducing our environmental impact – including keeping transportation emissions down.

To measure the GHG emissions caused by inbound transportation—shipping products from factories to our distribution centers—we rely on standards set by the BSR Clean Cargo Working Group. The Group was established as a global business-to-business initiative with a goal of improving environmental performance by measuring, evaluating, and reporting on marine container transportation. Outbound measurements—shipping from distribution centers to retail stores—are not included yet. Timberland is actively working towards including this information in the future.

In 2011, Timberland projected that volume of units shipped would grow by 10%; instead, we found that unit volume grew more significantly than anticipated. Because unit volume grew, we also experienced a 25% increase in transportation emissions. The increase in unit volume put pressure on various parts of our supply chain resulting in more air freight to transport our products. As a result, instead of reducing air freight volume by 30% as targeted, we saw an air freight increase of 23% over the previous year.

“We had significantly more volume than anticipated,” says Michael Fischer, senior analyst of global transportation for Timberland. “In effect, we made very little progress on our aggressive goals in 2011.” These goals include a transportation-emissions reduction of 37% in 2012 against a 2006 baseline and 28%, over the same baseline in 2015 (to account for ongoing business growth).

Despite challenging results in 2011, Timberland remains committed to reducing our transportation impacts. According to Fischer, there are three ways Timberland plans to reduce emissions:

1. Transportation Mode Choices
2. Container Utilization
3. Distance Reduction

Transportation Choices

By far, the most expensive mode of transport is air freight, which is also the most harmful to the environment in terms of intensity of greenhouse gas emissions. Whenever possible, Timberland aims to utilize ocean freight to reduce our environmental impact. Since most of our suppliers are located overseas, the impact of using road and rail transportation is minimal.

Of course, sometimes air freight is necessary, and there are many factors that play into the decision for selecting an appropriate transportation mode. For example, a design or materials change late in the manufacturing process might mean that a product is delayed, requiring air freight to get it to customers on schedule. External factors also influence transportation choices. Resource or capacity restraints at factories can create delays that result in the need to transport by air to meet our deadlines. The issue could also be on the carrier’s side—for example, ocean-going vessels can simply not have enough space for goods. Timberland will seek to resolve issues within our control through improved planning and forecasting methods, which support our emissions objectives.

Container Utilization

The second way Timberland plans to reduce transportation emissions is by improving container utilization, which means more efficiently using cargo space available. “Most of our product still moves as ocean freight over the longest distance, so this is where the opportunity is to have the greatest impact,” says Fischer. “If we end up shipping a container that’s not filled to capacity, we’re creating unnecessary waste—both financially and environmentally,” he explains.

Distance Reduction

Timberland is also looking to reduce the distance that goods need to be transported. “Sourcing product closer to the end consumer is the key to this objective. When you reduce your distance you also reduce your emissions. For example, when considering the most efficient way to move products to our North America and European markets, the more we can source from our Dominican Republic factory, the better,” says Fischer.

Fischer is hopeful that Timberland’s aggressive goals around transportation emissions can be met. However, he also points out that it must be a company-wide effort: “The entire business has to be involved and take ownership of the emission targets, and efforts need to be coordinated. By aligning our objectives and focusing on our three-tiered approach to reducing emissions, we’ll get closer to where we want to be.”

-- Download The Plan: Grow the Business, Shrink Emissions as PDF --

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