CSR in freight transport

Why are economic performance and environmental performance linked?

CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, refers to a company's or organization's voluntary approach to including social, societal and environmental issues in its overall strategy and activities. 


In an information report, the French Senate has identified freight transport as a sector that is growing steadily, but also as a major cause of environmental degradation. With this in mind, the Senate formulated a series of recommendations aimed at reducing the environmental and societal impact of this sector.


The freight transport sector is a key player in the development of CSR, as it is at the heart of practices linked to the environmental aspect of Corporate Social Responsibility. This sector is also upstream/downstream of many goods purchasing/selling companies' own activities, and accounts for the bulk of their GHG emissions.


Transportation is responsible for 31% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in France, with road transport accounting for 94% of the transport sector's emissions. In 2010, the ISO 26 000 standard was launched, providing companies with guidelines for operating in a socially responsible manner.


Including CSR in a company's policy means choosing to combine economic performance and growth within a broader strategy aimed at implementing an action plan whose positive repercussions on society and the environment will be felt in the medium to long term. This action plan includes the adoption of a number of best practices and innovations designed to commit to a sustainable development approach.


In 2013, the Prime Minister set up the CSR Platform within France Stratégie; this national platform for global action is a consultative body that brings together the relevant government departments, organizations representing companies and the business world, employee trade unions, representatives of civil society and research, and includes a member of parliament and a senator among its members.

What is corporate social responsibility?



Corporate Social Responsibility concerns all types of companies, and can take many different forms depending on the objectives pursued. The European Commission defines it as the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns linked to their commercial activities and their relations with stakeholders.

Definition of CSR policy: the implementation of a Corporate Social Responsibility policy refers to the choices made by a company to limit the negative impact and maximize the positive impact of its activity on the environment and society, while remaining economically efficient. Often perceived as limited to the notion of sustainable development, it is in fact much broader. 

Actions in this area can take several categories into account: 

  •  The environment (environmental issues are driven by sustainable development standards and practices)
  • Human rights (notably respect for the rights of employees under French and European law)
  • Workplace relations and conditions(notably concerning employees, collaborators and the company's various stakeholders)
  • Fair practices (towards competitors and customers)
  • Community issues and local development (the impact of the company's activities on the local environment)
  • Consumer issues (relating to the means used to manage consumer needs, including the quality of information provided to consumers)
  • Corporate governance

These categories address a range of issues specific to each company's activity. The company that chooses to develop its CSR policy is free to define the points that will enable it to reduce its negative impact on its environment and its stakeholders, who may include customers, suppliers, partners, employees, shareholders, local residents and public authorities, among others. Similarly, it is free to choose the elements that will enable it to have a positive impact on them. 

The choice of CSR areas in which a company chooses to perform can be guided by a number of factors. Here are a few examples: 

  • Supporting a cause through conviction
  • Consistency with corporate image
  • Issues specific to the company and/or its stakeholders
  • Regional issues and/or issues specific to a particular situation
  • Matching the desire for economic growth

For companies, getting involved in CSR can form the core of their brand identity, just as it can also be a plus, to be communicated to stakeholders, making it more attractive.

For companies, this policy is a new parameter to be defined in order to remain competitive and successful. For some organizations, adapting to CSR means radically rethinking their previously established business model: this is particularly the case when the company's activity is based on the use of polluting resources.


What does ISO 26 000 include?

Published in 2010, ISO 26000 is the first CSR standard. This normative document is the fruit of 5 years of reflection in 99 countries.

This is an international standard describing the principles and themes that can be covered by a company's or organization's CSR commitment. It is not a binding document, but rather a resource providing the necessary guidelines for any player wishing to develop a more responsible strategy.



Can CSR in freight transport become a means of improving the wealth created?


In the freight transport sector, the CSR approach aims to improve the quality of the wealth created, while minimizing the pollution generated. 

For transport, this eco-responsible commitment aims to reduce : 

  • Societal impact (definition of practices aimed at making good use of infrastructures and reducing the nuisance generated)
  • Social impact (accidents, congestion, dumping)
  • Environmental and health impact (CO2/GES and particulate emissions, NOx, SOx)

In France, the obligation to publish an annual CSR report (declaration of extra-financial performance) is a provision of the Grenelle 2 law of 2010. This law sets out the government's objectives with regard to environmental issues in France, and imposes a sustainable development code of conduct for all companies, from SMEs to major corporations.

With regard to transport, one of the aims of this law is to develop alternatives to road transport for goods. 

With the aim of simplifying the process and making it easier for shippers to collect data, TK'Blue has developed a specific TK'RSE index; it takes up the issues and priorities of the Logistics CSR reference framework published by the Ministry of Transport in September 2018, and interprets them within the framework of an aggregate index representative of the degree of CSR commitment of transporters, without them needing to structure this process on their own.


Priority transport issues for sustainable performance

With regard to logistics chains and freight transport, it is possible to identify priority issues such as :

  • Reducing the most significant nuisances for local residents: particulates, NOx, SOx, noise, road congestion and accidents, commonly referred to as the " negative externalities of transport ".
  • Improving company performance: punctuality and quality of transport services.

The transport chain has the advantage of seeing both its efficiency and the reduction of its environmental footprint (in particular, the transport carbon footprint) and societal footprint linked, depending on the same factors: 

  • Quality of materials and equipment
  • Resources used
  • Staff training

One of the benefits of these factors is that they have an impact on other areas, such as employer brandand stakeholder confidence through clear CSR communication.


Carbon reporting: scope 3, the big forgotten factor for companies

Many CSR-compliant companies choose to calculate their carbon footprint by creating a carbon footprint report for inclusion in their CSR reporting. These companies tend to focus on scopes 1 and 2 information, forgetting or superficially treating scope 3, which concerns all their indirect emissions. 

Definition of Scope 3: Scope 3 refers to all greenhouse gas emissions generated by a company's activities that are not counted in either Scope 1 or Scope 2, and which are directly related, upstream or downstream, to the company's activity. This scope may concern, for example, the acquisition of raw materials, the means used to transport them, the transport generated, or the management put in place for end-of-life products.

This "oversight" considerably distorts the final reports, especially as regards the company's GHG weight.

Fortunately, decree 2022-982 finally requires scope 3 to be taken into account in GHG balances, and therefore requires precise measurement of GHG emissions from transport operations decided by the company.

In order to facilitate the retrieval of this information, TK'Blue provides a carrier directorywhich lists all the carriers listed by the company. This tool provides access to information on each carrier's CSR label and GHG index, and enables you to compare their performance according to a wide range of criteria.



The benefits of a CSR approach for road transport and logistics


CSR in road transport: sustainable and easily measurable 

Freight transport companies are increasingly encouraged and motivated to pursue a CSR approach, paying close attention to the quality of the fuels they use (less sulfur, less nitrogen oxides), and to the introduction of new technologies that pollute less, consume less and make less noise. As far as the CSR impact of road transport is concerned, the consequences on the lives of local residents are considerable and immediate, and must therefore no longer be overlooked.


CSR in logistics: challenges for the future

Logistics plays a central role in our economy, which is based on the exchange of information, goods and services.

In France, logistics accounts for 10% of GDP and 1.8 million jobs, making this sector a major player in the digital, ecological and energy transitions.

With this in mind, in 2016 the government decided to implement the national strategy "France Logistique 2025", a project that involves the industry and government departments in five key areas:

  • Make France's logistics platform a global benchmark by promoting logistics dynamics throughout the country;
  • Develop human capital and facilitate the visibility of the logistics organization;
  • Making the digital transition a driver of logistics performance ;
  • Using logistics as a lever for transforming industrial policies and the energy transition;
  • Establish and lead integrated logistics governance.

The creation of this benchmark will provide logistics players who are sensitive to these issues with clear guidelines for implementing the necessary changes within their companies, and thus give them an edge over their French, European or global competitors by 2025.



TK'Blue, a partner in the labeling and certification of transport operators


Since 2012, TK'Blue has been working with shippers, carriers and principals to provide them with reliable solutions for creating and sharing the annual reports required under Decree 2011-1336 (then 2016-1138). These reports, which are mandatory for transport service providers, must inform their customers of the quantity of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during the transport carried out on their behalf.

At the same time, TK'Blue has made a commitment to its customers by offering them increasingly precise tools for measuring their environmental and social impact. Since then, the TK'Blue rating has kept pace with each new decree concerning the eco-responsible performance of supply chain players, taking into account not only CO2/GES emissions, but also all the negative externalities generated by transport: particulate emissions, NOx, SOx, noise, congestion, accidents.

Based on the challenges of the Logistics CSR reference framework and the priorities set by the Ministry in 2018, TK'Blue has set up a new service on its platform to collect information from carriers via an online questionnaire:

  • Documented answers to questions linked to a scale covering all the CSR issues applicable to transporters as requested by the Ministry.
  • The information already available on the TK'Blue platform enhances the value of certain issues in the logistics CSR reference framework (technical and environmental indices for vehicle fleets, TK'T and TK'GES): transporters can complete their data relating to these indicators online, thereby enhancing the value of the CSR actions they have already undertaken in areas such as climate change, energy and air pollution;

On the basis of the information gathered, and the 3 indices associated with the different ministerial priorities, we calculate an overall CSR index: the TK'RSE.

The TK'RSE indicator is presented in the form of a simplified "materiality matrix" indicating the percentages of actions carried out according to the scale for each type of issue (by priority) and overall:

This new service provides all carriers with a simple, harmonized tool, based on questions relating to the actions carried out rather than the issues themselves.

The index, calculated according to a TK'Blue scale validated by its European Scientific Council, aggregates the results for a shipper using several transport companies.


The solutions offered by TK'Blue enable transport operators to combine environmental and economic performance, thanks to measurement, analysis and value-adding tools designed for shippers, transporters and principals, and the constant proposal of sources of progress.