Sustainable Synergy: How Groupe Sterne and subsidiary Sterne City Collaborate to Drive Decarbonization

February 21, 2024 EcoVadis EN

With the transport industry accounting for roughly 30% of global GHG emissions, decarbonization is at the forefront of the agenda for many organizations operating within the sector. For Groupe Sterne, a multimodal transport and logistics organization housing over 10 companies across their 6 brand branches, decarbonization is no longer a distant aspiration but a promise. The international group provides premium, planned and on demand transport, making over 170,000 stops in a single day across Europe. As a carrier, freight forwarder and customs agent, air freight forwarder and courier solutions provider, Groupe Sterne is committed to the delivery of low carbon premium logistics. Their dedication to impactful change is demonstrated through verification of their targets with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), including a Net Zero 2050 goal that encompasses Scope 3 emissions.

Sterne City is one such subsidiary that operates under Groupe Sterne, and is an urban logistics and last mile delivery expert. The courier company has been working intimately with Groupe Sterne to develop and integrate lasting sustainability initiatives across their business operations in France. Sterne City recently secured an EcoVadis Platinum Medal, bringing the group one step closer to achieving their goal of having 100% of their subsidiaries with an EcoVadis Gold or Platinum Medal by 2024.  

Working Together to Build a Better Future 

“We will not decarbonize alone in our sector. We will decarbonize together by modifying our habits, by changing the way we consume, and by changing the way we transport.”  –   Groupe Sterne

Both Groupe Sterne and Sterne City highlight the importance of collaboration at every level. From high level executive engagement through to their supply chain and customer base, both companies accredit their success to the channel of open communication that has been established for all parties. For Groupe Sterne, it is imperative to set an example of transparency to their subsidiaries.  As a result, the organization has been reporting and openly communicating their Scope 3 emissions, which comprises 93% of the organization's overall GHG emissions. 

Sterne City’s commitment to best sustainability practices is evidenced through their carbon scorecard, having climbed from a 1 to a top score of 5 (Leader Level) in just one year. This achievement was made possible by the introduction of structured GHG management systems, enhanced emissions reporting with third party verification, SBTi target setting and virtual audits. To support a structured GHG management approach, Sterne City began adhering to frameworks including Objectif CO2, the only national-level scheme in France offering companies a structured framework for reducing GHG emissions from transport activities. The company also aligned with the GHG Protocol with third party verification, in addition to obtaining multiple ISO certifications.

Sterne City’s dedication to driving continuous improvement made them the obvious choice to pilot Group Sterne’s decarbonization policies and initiatives. This process ensured the organization could obtain a holistic understanding before rolling them out to the remaining subsidiaries.  

In the modern transport and logistics market, it is often easy to neglect the efforts of the people working behind the scenes. To ensure all employees feel heard and valued, the company has introduced an ‘ideas box’ which provides a space for employees at all levels to share their thoughts and ideas for business development and decarbonization. These suggestions are then passed onto the Groupe Sterne, where they can be reviewed and implemented at the top level. EcoVadis has also proved a beneficial tool for boosting employee engagement at Sterne City, using the reassessment period as an opportunity to celebrate their growth and development. 

To foster meaningful change, Groupe Sterne recognizes the need to go beyond the supply chain and reach the customer base.  Sterne City reminds us that “there is no such thing as free delivery. Decarbonization is a joint effort to be performed by carrier companies, citizens, transport users and the government.”. Last year, the organization published and distributed  ‘Action Climat’,  a research document detailing Groupe Sterne’s primary climate objectives, decarbonization initiatives and GHG compensation solutions. 

Advancing Climate Action through Efficiency and Innovation

Within the transport sector, the refinement of initiatives concerning fuel reduction is a primary focus. That is why the Groupe Sterne has begun making the swap to Biological Natural Gas Vehicles (BioNGVs) in addition to the creation of micro-hub charging points for their electric vehicles. The organization has also dedicated a significant proportion of their workforce to travel logistics, enabling the group to omit superfluous mileage, reducing CO2 emissions and directly reducing costs. Another simple yet hugely effective investment is the group's commitment to making 75% of deliveries overnight, again reducing travel time due to reduced traffic, GHG emissions and costs.  

The organization has also recently launched two initiatives: The Sterne Tree Initiative, a new solution offered to customers to offset residual emissions, in addition to a program that supports farmers in implementing innovative technologies and solutions that reduce GHG emissions. Outside of logistics, Groupe Sterne has seen progress from the elimination of cardboard packaging. By replacing these boxes with long-life packaging solutions, the organization has avoided 270,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions to date.  

Return on Sustainability 

The group has seen a direct return on their investment in obtaining EcoVadis sustainability ratings for their subsidiaries. Having EcoVadis Ratings and Medals has enabled the organization to access tenders they would otherwise have been unable to secure, thus driving sales growth and an increase in recognition for Groupe Sterne.

Groupe Sterne's Corporate EcoVadis subscription grants their subsidiaries a Premium subscription, enabling them to share their scorecards with customers in their network and greatly increasing the entire group’s reach. To date, Sterne City has had 59 scorecard share requests through the EcoVadis platform while the group overall has over 197, demonstrating their customer base's growing demand for best sustainability practices. 

When it comes to employee recruitment, both Groupe Sterne and Sterne City have identified an influx of young candidates requesting details on sustainability initiatives. This recent development has cemented their belief that investing in sustainability is one way to ensure the attraction of emerging industry talent. 

Instigating Lasting Change with EcoVadis 

Through their Corporate Subscription, the organization engages and collaborates with their subsidiaries to gather all required data to report GHG metrics and improve their GHG management programs. This practice supports setting examples and policies at the parent company level for consistent program management and reporting.

Having partnered with EcoVadis for several years, Groupe Sterne has also benefited from the comprehensive and constantly updated methodology across the themes of Environment, Sustainable Procurement, Labour & Human Rights, and Ethics. The group has used the EcoVadis carbon calculator to identify their baseline and set targets across Scopes 1 to 3 as well as used scorecards to understand the performance of their subsidiaries. However, as the partnership matured, they began using the metrics function to communicate their quantitative findings to the entire group as well as utilizing EcoVadis Academy to train and upskill their employees in the four theme areas.

For Groupe Sterne and Sterne City, EcoVadis is more than a sustainability performance measurement and benchmark helping to identify areas for improvement. It is a multidimensional platform with reliable indicators and resources guiding a continuous improvement journey that has proven invaluable to drive meaningful climate action.

“If you are looking to reduce GHG emissions, EcoVadis is there. If you are aiming to reduce costs, EcoVadis is there. If you need to galvanize your team and improve your recruitment process, EcoVadis is still there. So, EcoVadis is hard to do without.” - Sterne City 

About the Author

EcoVadis EN

EcoVadis is a purpose-driven company whose mission is to provide the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings. Businesses of all sizes rely on EcoVadis’ expert intelligence and evidence-based ratings to manage risk and compliance, drive decarbonization, and improve the sustainability performance of their business and value chain. Its AI-powered risk mapping, actionable scorecards, benchmarks, carbon action tools, and insights guide a resilience and improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices across 200 industry categories and 175 countries.

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin Visit Website More Content by EcoVadis EN
Previous Article
The Sustainability Climb: How EcoVadis Supported Sakai Chemical Industry’s Key Goals
The Sustainability Climb: How EcoVadis Supported Sakai Chemical Industry’s Key Goals

Sakai Chemical Industry started partnering with EcoVadis in 2020. Its Sakai Manufacturing Site and Onahama ...

Next Article
How a European business school is advancing its sustainability performance with EcoVadis
How a European business school is advancing its sustainability performance with EcoVadis

The Swiss university institute first partnered with EcoVadis in 2015 and has since been awarded a Gold Meda...