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DHL Freight and Lilly: First International Biodiesel Route for the Transport of Medicines

DHL Freight is transporting products of the pharmaceutical company Lilly from its plant in Spain to the Netherlands and Belgium in an eco-friendly way with trucks running on biodiesel. DHL Freight is thus supporting Lilly in becoming the first European company in the industry to use sustainable fuels for international transport to reduce CO2 emissions and contribute to climate protection.

Advanced Technology + Intelligent Route Planning = Less CO2 Emissions

A combination of the use of biodiesel vehicles and intelligent route planning is reducing the  CO2 emissions associated with deliveries coming from Lilly’s plant in Alcobendas, near the Spanish capital of Madrid. From Alcobendas, transports roll once or twice a week to Tessenderlo and Boortmeerbeek in Belgium, and once a month to Schiphol-Rijk in the Netherlands. Almost ten percent of all deliveries from Alcobendas are now carried out by biodiesel trucks, thanks to the joint commitment of Lilly and DHL Freight.

Not only are the transports sustainable, but the temperature-controlled trucks, with temperatures in the cargo space ranging from +15 to +25 degrees Celsius and from +2 to +8 degrees Celsius, also represent the state of the art in pharmaceutical logistics.


About Lilly

Since its foundation in 1837, the medical company Lilly has been transforming science into health solutions to improve the lives of people around the world. Innovation in research, and medicines that are accessible and affordable for everyone are two sides of the same coin for Lilly.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, USA, Lilly employs approximately 42,000 people worldwide. The company operates research laboratories in seven countries and manufacturing facilities in nine countries. Lilly is represented in 110 countries.

Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease or cancer: Lilly scientists are working hard to find new ways to help solve the world’s most significant health problems. In 2023 alone, Lilly invested more than nine million euros in research.

Fuel Made from Vegetable Oil and Animal Fats

Derived from organic raw materials, mainly vegetable oils or animal fats, biodiesel is a natural, renewable, and clean fuel, the use of which contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. However, not all countries have an adequate infrastructure for production and distribution, and in some regions it is difficult to find filling stations offering biofuels. The new biodiesel route therefore represents a milestone in sustainable fuel distribution.

Starting up these routes with biodiesel has not been easy, but it was a very important project for us and one that falls within our interest in reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions in the distribution phase, since we want to minimize our environmental impact throughout the value chain of our medicines. This is the first step and we continue working to reduce our scope 3 emissions.

Teresa Millán, Director of Corporate Affairs, Lilly Spain

Making Progress Together

In 2022, DHL Freight launched its GoGreen Plus services to make road freight carbon-neutral by 2050 as part of the DHL Group’s zero-emissions strategy. Lilly, on the other hand, has set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of its purchased electricity from renewable sources and achieving carbon neutrality in its operations by 2030. Lilly and DHL Freight are significantly reducing their CO2 emissions through joint investments in low- and zero-emission technologies and fuels on the new sustainable pharma route.

We have been working for years to reduce the emissions of our transport. The agreement with Lilly brings us closer to our goal, since, thanks to biodiesel, 2,000 tons of CO2 per year will be eliminated, equivalent to planting 279,000 trees.

Rubén Gavela, Managing Director DHL Freight Iberia

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