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DB Schenker Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777F CO2 Neutral Flight in Air

Sustainability in Air Freight

Rethinking the business of our industry for a carbon-neutral tomorrow.

As sustainability becomes more and more critical, businesses and logistics suppliers are looking for ways to grow their economic base, and make a positive social impact with their ecological footprint. With air freight representing 1.9% of all global greenhouse emissions, maritime shipping accounting for about 1.7%, and land transport 11.9%, the logistics industry is a crucial facilitator in reducing overall greenhouse gases.

Graphic showing the global carbon emissions by transport sector

(1) OurWorldinData.org –Research and data to make progress against the world’s largest problems. Source: Climate Watch the World Resources Institute (2020)
Note: The total climate impact of air transport accounts for 3.5% of global warming (includes RFI, Radiative Forcing Index)

As an environmental pioneer, sustainability is at the core of how we do business – day in and day out, from city to city, country to country. Beyond delivering shipments and managing supply chains when and where needed, we aim to revolutionize the air freight industry by helping our customers and transportation partners manage their sustainability efforts as well.

  • Today, we are working with several of the world’s major cargo and passenger airlines as they look to invest in more efficient aircraft to lower emissions and minimize the overall environmental impact. At the same time, we are helping them meet customer’s ever-demanding transportation needs.
  • We are also developing fully electric utility drones capable of carrying a 200 kg (~440 lbs) payload up to 40 km (~25 miles) that considers both purpose and sustainability in its design. This crewless aircraft is designed to meet modern logistical needs with an autonomous, future-focused product.
  • Through our eSchenker and connect 4.0 online platforms, we are significantly reducing the amount of paperwork necessary, from shipment details to Customs forms.
  • We are an active member of the Sustainable Air Freight Alliance (SAFA), a buyer-supplier collaboration between shippers, freight forwarders, and air freight carriers to track and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from air freight and promote responsible freight transport.

With economic growth and global trade expected to double freight-related emissions by 2050, we will continue to work with our customers and transportation partners to ensure their ambitious carbon commitments become a reality.

Our Partnership with Lufthansa Cargo puts DB Schenker in a leadership position for protecting the climate in air freight.

In November 2020, DB Schenker partnered with Lufthansa Cargo and flew the world’s first CO2 neutral all-cargo flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Shanghai, China, and back to Frankfurt. The Boeing 777F cargo aircraft used sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on both legs of the flight. As a real alternative to fossil fuels, SAF is produced from waste materials, such as those derived from used cooking and vegetable oils, landfill, municipal waste, crop waste, and more. More critical, SAF can have up to 80% fewer Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions than traditional conventional kerosene fuels resulting in CO2 emission reductions and cleaner air. 

DB Schenker Lufthansa Cargo SAF Fueling Photo Credit: Lufthansa Cargo AG / Oliver Rösler

Program success leads to ongoing scheduled air cargo flights using SAF to continue carbon emission reductions. 

Shipper demand for this initial partnership was so successful, on April 1, 2021, we launched a weekly all-cargo scheduled service from Frankfurt, Germany to Shanghai, China, and back to Frankfurt. These all-cargo flights utilize Lufthansa 777F with allocated Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and will be available throughout the summer flight schedule from the beginning of April until the end of October 2021. Depending on your sustainability targets, DB Schenker has two models in place to achieve either a carbon zero (through insetting) or a carbon-neutral (through offsetting) shipment of your goods. 

The DB Schenker SAF insetting model aims at a direct carbon mitigation of the transport system. Any new carbon emissions into the atmosphere are avoided. This is the most sustainable way to reduce carbon emissions as it saves any additional energy consumption arising from compensation measures.

With this model, carbon zero emissions are achieved through 100% insetting.


Carbon neutrality entails a balance between carbon emissions and carbon reduction. This balance is achieved by compensating newly emitted CO2 into the atmosphere, usually by measures which absorb such emissions in a second step. The result is an overall balance which is then neutral. 

With this model, carbon neutrality is achieved by insetting through the usage of SAF (80%) and offsetting the remaining CO2 emissions which are created in the SAF production/distribution (20%).

DB Schenker Lufthansa Cargo Sustainable Air Freight Photo Credit: Lufthansa Cargo AG / Oliver Rösler

DB Schenker is committed to finding ways to make energy sustainable, and our partnership with Lufthansa Cargo is just the beginning as we and the air freight industry aim for CO2-neutral air freight by 2050. As one of the world’s leading logistics and transportation providers, we intend to pave the way for sustainable air freight and encourage our entire industry to rethink our industry’s business. These flights are just the beginning of our promise to help our customers keep their commitments to the environment as well.
 
For more information, please reach out to your local DB Schenker experts.

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