CHEP’s business model is inherently sustainable.


In 2018, 99.4% of the timber used by CHEP came from certified sources, with 66.1% carrying complete chain-of-custody certification. During that same period Brambles, the global supply-chain logistics company that operates in more than 60 countries, primarily through the CHEP brand , diverted 100% of its plastic waste from its largest managed sites and 89% of its wood waste from landfills. This included recycling more than 18 600 tonnes of end-of-life plastic materials. Supply Network Africa met up with CHEP’s local leadership team at SAPICS to find out more.

CHEP’s business model is inherently sustainable. “We help customers become part of the circular economy through our principles of share and reuse. The more our customers use our platforms, the greater the efficiencies,” explains Hermann Haupt, CHEP Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa.

It’s a business model, he says, that has sustained the company for more than 40 years in South Africa. The Group’s purpose is to connect people with life’s essentials, working with manufacturers, suppliers and retailers, overseeing the whole supply chain: from the farm to the factory, from the shop floor to the front door.

CHEP, says Haupt, does not sell anything as such, instead pooling equipment. Specialising in sharing and reusing unit load equipment it allows companies to create less waste, use less natural resources, lower platform inventories and attain the efficiencies of standardization – sustainable supply chains.

“Pooling equipment cuts waste in multiple ways,” says Haupt. “Our approach is not just to share equipment, but also to share and reuse as much as possible, reducing the impact on the environment significantly. When our platforms reach the end of their lifetime much effort goes into finding ways we can repurpose them.”


In 2018 customers’ use of Brambles platforms saved 1.7 million trees, 2.6 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions and 1.4 million metric tonnes of solid waste.

“Sustainability is not negotiable,” says Haupt. “It really is at the very heart of everything that we do.”

In fact, says Nomathemba Mhlanga, Senior Sustainability Manager, increasing the sustainability of supply chains is a growing trend around the world with the focus especially on finding solutions for the last mile.

“Frills in merchandising are fast disappearing with the move towards smaller pack size deliveries to stores that are also changing to smaller formats,” she says. “Especially in Europe there is a lot of focus on saving costs and leaning out the supply chain.”

More retailers, especially in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector are opting for less touch options, optimizing floor space as much as possible while digitization is playing a key role.

“The last mile solution speaks directly to the less touch approach,” says Mhlanga. “In South Africa, due to our geography, we do have spatial challenges that makes it difficult to implement some of the international solutions, but we are increasingly moving towards systems where goods are touched as little as possible throughout the supply chain.”

Both Haupt and Mhlanga say much more can be done to not only reduce costs but increase supply chain sustainability locally.

“Our mantra is to waste nothing and to optimize the flow of goods and services as much as possible. We find the most efficient way and eliminate as many touch points as possible. One of our products, for example, is a quarter pallet that can be moved directly into the store reducing packing and repacking of products tremendously,” says Haupt.


Another trend fast gaining track is that of data and information, says Trevor Drury, CHEP Senior Director – Commercial. “It simply comes down to this: the better the data and information at your disposal, the better the solutions that can be delivered.”

He says tracking of product is therefore a key element of a more sustainable supply chain.

“We would like to bring digital intelligence to Brambles’ global assets, building upon the innovative solutions we have in the market. Circulating our physical assets through supply chains with digital capabilities will provide greater efficiency, reduced cost, and more sustainable solutions for our customers. Potential applications include asset management, goods visibility and quality monitoring across the supply-chain.”

According to Drury, CHEP’s advantage lies in its innovative approach to finding solutions to some of the age-old supply chain challenges while its ability to leverage its international reach creates immediate efficiency for its customers.

“The supply chain has really come into its own,” says Haupt. “Consumer preferences now play a critical role. Where the product comes from, along with its entire lifeline is under scrutiny at all times making traceability critical.”

Drury says using their expertise, gained from working with supply chains around the world, and applying its share and re-use model CHEP can pinpoint the optimal platforms for its customers that gives them the credibility their customers demand when it comes to sustainability.

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