It is now well known the great impact that large industries have on the environment and the importance to minimize their negative effects on the environment has been recognized. The logistics sector is committed to adopting the eco-friendly concept to look for sustainable alternatives to continue its economic activity while taking care of the planet.
Green Logistics is the most anticipated and novel trend for 2021, not only because climate change is a vital part of the social and political discourse but also for the consumer's ever-increasing awareness of their impact on the environment as they search for cleaner alternatives for the planet. Beyond the ethical commitment, this trend also adheres to new laws created to encourage industry to embrace this trend.
What is Green Logistics?
The International Review of Applied Engineering Research defines Green Logistics as *"efforts to measure and minimize the environmental impact of logistics activity". This means that the industry seeks to define new strategies and processes with the objective of respecting the environment while maintaining economic profitability.
Why do companies decide to go green?
The adjective "green" interrelates variables that are very important today for companies in the industry, such as ecology, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and more. Going green provides a competitive advantage within the industry, as well as better positioning in the market due to the fact that customers get a better perception of the company by following the trend.
What is the purpose of this trend?
Its main objective is to coordinate the activities within a supply chain in such a way that the desired goals are met with the "least cost" to the environment. This is a principal component of reverse logistics. In the past “cost” has been defined in purely monetary terms, whereas "cost" can now also be understood as the external costs of logistics associated with: climate change, air pollution, dumping waste (including packaging waste), soil degradation, noise, vibration, and accidents.
First steps to go green
Optimize routes to avoid wasting miles, looking for the shortest ones, and using less polluting vehicles to save time and resources.
Use environmentally-friendly vehicles with alternative means of energy to save on fuel and reduce carbon emissions.
Keeping vehicles in good condition by avoiding oil spills, tire waste and other technical problems can help reduce pollution.
Applying the Backhaul concept can make the most of the truck's return trip by avoiding empty miles.
Look for other options for packaging, such as recycled or biodegradable material that makes the process more efficient, saves warehouse space, and is eco-friendly.
It is important to handle hazardous products correctly so that they do not affect the atmosphere.
And finally, using renewable energy sources such as solar panels or photoelectric cells is a change that makes a huge difference in environmental impact.
Benefits of green logistics
As we mentioned before, companies go green for the competitive advantage of becoming sustainable. Helping the environment in some way or another entails a series of strategies that bring benefits such as:
Saving time and money
Savings in the consumption of resources
Increased logistical and operational efficiency
Improved corporate image and reputation
Improved brand perception and market value.
Some green examples
IKEA has eliminated wooden pallets from its entire supply chain and replaced them with paper/cardboard pallets.
DHL Global Forwarding has adopted solutions to account for and manage its CO2 emissions.
FedEx follows environmental practices in its supply chain to increase efficiency and reduce waste and emissions; in recent years it has been working to reduce its aircraft emissions by 30%. In addition, its EarthSmart program offers cutting-edge business and environmental support.
Coca-Coca Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC), the company's leading European bottler, for example, has been leveraging IoT-enabled technology, such as smart refrigerators that track and moderate temperature while measuring sales statistics, CCHBC has maximized efficiency throughout its value chain while minimizing waste and energy use.
The challenges ahead are clear: reduced carbon emissions, shift to more sustainable containers and packaging, use of means of transportation with a smaller Co2 footprint, and an increasingly efficient supply chain procedure focused on reducing the company’s impact on the environment. We will soon see more and more eco-friendly actions in the industry as the future becomes greener, and so will logistics.
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