In June, Transport Mervielde received the Voka Sustainable Enterprise Charter for the 20th consecutive time, something unique in the sector. Time for a conversation with Kristel Verstraeten, our SHEQ manager who has been behind this project for years.
What does a company have to do to be eligible for the Sustainable Enterprise Charter?
Within the timespan of one year, as a company we need to undertake several actions associated with the 17 UN sustainability objectives. At the end of the action year, we have to present our achievements to a team of independent experts. Following a positive evaluation, you then receive the Voka (Flemish Companies Network) Sustainable Enterprise annual certificate.
Which actions did Mervielde concentrate on this year?
We concentrated on ten actions. It became a practicable blend of a number of quick wins, and a number of larger actions. We thus worked on a project to have some of our lorries run on biodiesel. Mervielde also took part in the ‘eco driving’ project for optimising fuel consumption. Neither did we lose sight of our surroundings. We backed the creation of a local park and planted a flower meadow ourselves. Internally, we are also working on a process concerning our company values. We have also provided a shrubbery and a healthy drinks vending machine in our offices.
The transport sector has not always had a green reputation in the outside world. How has Mervielde managed to achieve the charter for 20 consecutive times?
That distrust is not always justified, because the bar is set rather high. To be eligible, you need to undertake actions that go beyond the legal obligations. Support from management ensures that every year, we opt for achievable actions that have an impact on the environment, as well as having value for our business. The fact that the evaluation committee has awarded us this certificate 20 years in a row proves that as a transport company, we can set the bar rather high.
What actions are you most proud of?
I personally think that installing the solar panels on our roofs and the carport was a great achievement. That immediately implies that we almost do not need to purchase electricity from anywhere else.
What are the major challenges when it comes to sustainability for Mervielde?
The biggest challenge is reducing our fleet’s CO2 emissions. That stands to reason, but it is far from straightforward. Switching over to a different kind of energy or another fuel engine is a major step. Nevertheless, we are facing the challenge head on. We are conducting various studies into biodiesel, HVO and LNG. However, making a real change requires additional measures from the government, since a truck such as this entails a substantially higher investment.
How can we involve our customers in this story?
Most customers are already aware of the sustainability story. We are also trying to help them with this, by offering multimodal solutions, meaning we offer combinations by rail and/or waterways. We are also offering flexible loading solutions, meaning transport can combined as much as possible. This is without losing sight of the safety aspect.
How can our colleagues play their part in this?
If every colleague applies the house, garden and kitchen rules, this will have a huge effect. This involves sorting waste, not leaving lights on, turning devices off, limiting paper consumption, etc. With these small actions, everyone can have a huge impact on our environment.
Since 2003, Mervielde has subscribed to the ‘East Flanders Environment Charter’ every year, which since 2015 has been included in the Flemish Sustainable Enterprise Charter. In 2015 we achieved the ‘Lean & Green’ award from the Flemish Logistics Institute (VIL). In 2020 the company was named SDG Pioneer (Sustainable Development Goals). In 2021 we achieved the ISO 14001 certificate by complying with the requirements of an environmental-management system.