Challenging Carbon Neutrality in EC Business with Precise Calculations and Bold Ideas
Fulfillment Div., EC Management Div., ZOZOTOWN Backend
Development Div., Hospitality Div.
National EC Account Management Department
Yamato Transport Co., Ltd.
With “Fashion Connects and Leads us to a Sustainable Future.” as its sustainability statement, ZOZO aims to create a world where people can continue to enjoy fashion forever. One of our key actions is: “Contribute to sustainable community development.”
Achieving a sustainable society requires global action towards carbon neutrality. The Japanese government has declared its commitment to achieve this goal by 2050, and many companies are now taking initiatives towards this end.
Amid the global call for cooperation in achieving carbon neutrality, what actions should we take?
Through a dialogue between TASHIRO Masahiro, Executive Officer of ZOZO, and OTOMO Takeharu, Executive Officer, National EC Account Management Department of Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. (at the time of the interview,) we will explore the future of carbon neutrality centered around logistics.
An Idealistic Partnership Since Founding
— According to a survey by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(*1) , the domestic EC market is growing, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This growth has raised concerns about increasing CO2 emissions from transportation. How do you view this?
Otomo : To achieve carbon neutrality, our company has been implementing various initiatives. While the reduction of CO2 emissions through minimizing re-deliveries has been a widely discussed topic, we launched the “EAZY” service in June 2020, which offers non-face-to-face receiving and unattended deliveries at customer-designated locations. With this service, customers can receive their parcels in one go, contributing to a reduction in CO2 emissions as a result.
We have been working on various initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions and move towards carbon neutrality. The introduction of “EAZY” and the promotion of convenient receiving ways, such as the open-type delivery service lockers called PUDO Station, have helped to mitigate the increase in CO2 emissions from redelivery attempts. However, achieving carbon neutrality is still a challenging goal. While we have implemented measures like introducing electric vehicles (EVs) and solar power generation facilities, striking a balance between enhancing customer convenience and environmental considerations is not straightforward. We believe it is crucial to collaborate with our business partners to address climate change going forward.
Our partnership with ZOZO has been instrumental in undertaking numerous challenges together. ZOZO was the first to adopt “EAZY,” and more recently, we have utilized the Yamato Transport's Relation Center in Chitose City to individually pack and send products for the Hokkaido region.
Tashiro : In areas with a Relation Center, we can transport products directly from our Logistics Center “ZOZOBASE,” without packaging them. This improves the loading efficiency for main transport routes. As a result, for instance, where multiple trucks were once needed, now only one is sufficient. Consequently, we can significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
Such initiatives may not always be economically rational. However, ignoring the responsibility we, as a corporation, ought to shoulder would go against our company philosophy of “Inspire the world. Deliver joy every day.” We believe that with the right combination of innovative solutions, we can overcome even the most challenging obstacles.
Otomo : The “Logistics 2024 Issue” that limits truck drivers' overtime working hours to 960 hours per year may result in approximately 14.2%(*2) of packages being unable to be delivered nationwide if no countermeasures are taken. Utilizing the Relation Center can be a solution to address these sustainable logistics challenges, and we encourage active utilization.
(*2)Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry website - 3rd Examination Meeting for Realizing Sustainable Logistics, Document 1 “Impact of the 2024 logistics problem” (by NX Research Institute, Inc.)
Aiming for Carbon Neutrality Through Innovative Solutions
— With various intertwined challenges, it's crucial to keep innovating, isn't it?
Tashiro : Absolutely. While our initiatives utilizing the Relation Center play a pivotal role, it's vital to combine multiple solutions. For instance, in our company, to improve loading efficiency during deliveries and minimize wastage of packing materials, we've introduced a system that measures the three dimensions of the items we handle. This system displays the optimal packaging material during the dispatch process, allowing us to reduce the size of our ZOZO boxes (cardboard) used for packaging to the smallest possible. We plan to enhance this system's accuracy further. Furthermore, most of the cardboard boxes we use for dispatch have received FSC certification.
Otomo : Not only in our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality but in every challenge we've faced, ZOZO has been a partner in solving these issues together. We have worked with ZOZO at the timing of every new challenge, and we believe that by continuing to work together, we can maximize the impact of our efforts toward achieving the goal of carbon neutrality.
Tashiro : Ever since our founding, we at ZOZO have been deeply grateful to Yamato for their services. We place absolute trust in them when it comes to delivering our products safely and securely to our customers. We see them as a partner who has supported our ambitious initiatives. We would also like to take on challenges that would make us a role model within the industry.
Consumers and Companies Unite to Create a New Ecosystem
— Are there any new initiatives you’re envisioning at the moment to achieve carbon neutrality?
Tashiro : Setting aside feasibility for now, we are having numerous discussions starting from zero. For instance, direct deliveries from brands.
Typically, ZOZOTOWN receives products from the brands, and delivers them to customers from our Logistics Center “ZOZOBASE.” However, for certain cases such as back-order products, exchange of defective products, and repair services after order placement, we sometimes retrieve the products from the brand's stores or warehouses and then deliver them to customers from our facilities. If we could directly ship these products from the brand's warehouse, without involving our facilities, we could further reduce CO2 emissions.
Currently, there are challenges related to the appropriate handling of personal information. However, if we could establish a system where personal information remains entirely confidential on the shipping documents, it would be a step forward in achieving direct shipping.
Undoubtedly, such initiatives may increase the burden on the brands, and they are not easy to implement. Nevertheless, if we are serious about achieving carbon neutrality, it will require even greater collaboration among companies. Overcoming technological obstacles and promoting initiatives that involve stakeholders are what we aim to do.
Otomo : We believe that not only companies but also the cooperation of consumers is essential. For example, just by eliminating product redeliveries, we can reduce CO2 emissions. Even the mere imagination of how our actions may impact the environment can contribute to creating a sustainable ecosystem together.
Tashiro : The absence of a one-size-fits-all answer like “Do this and it'll be alright” underscores the importance of our continued partnership, pooling together our collective knowledge and expertise. I truly value and anticipate our continued collaboration.