Green logistics may be the tip of the spear that points the way to future-proofing the entire shipping industry – and help to preserve our planet. Are you on board?

Green logistics or eco-logistics encompasses a set of sustainable policies and measures aimed at reducing environmental impacts caused by the activities of the shipping industry.

This forward-thinking logistics concept affects how processes are configured. This includes structures, systems and equipment used in the transport, distribution and storage of goods.

Traditionally, the decision making process has left environmental sustainability on the sidelines. Only until recently has the industry begun to effectively incorporate green logistics as a method of finding a balance between ecology and economy.

This action generated a number of questions: How do you manage it? What’s the incentive to include green logistics policies in your company? What challenges does a green logistics paradigm face?

Let’s have a look at the main issues related to sustainable logistics.

The Objectives of Green Logistics

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Green logistics goals:

  • Reduce water, soil, air, and noise pollution by analyzing the impact of each logistics segment, especially those related to transport.
  • Measure the carbon footprint of logistics operations. A baseline must be established as a  to develop sustainability measures and control further results through calculating energy consumption.
  • Use supplies efficiently by reusing containers and recycling packaging.
  • Spread sustainability throughout the supply chain. Eco-logistics also includes the materials used in the design of products as well as product packaging. Both must be developed to minimize their environmental impact.

Current Challenges

At present, the logistics industry isn’t widely recognized as having a high degree of sustainability. Due to several factors, logistics companies face significant obstacles in implementing environmental policies:

1. Fossil fuel dependency

Effective and economically viable incentives have yet to be fully developed to wean the sector’s fuel reliance – particularly in goods transportation.

2. Last Mile Deliveries’ impact on urban traffic

Most recently, e-commerce deliveries have greatly increased the volume of delivery vehicles in large cities and urban areas. Many operate without carrying full loads when faced with mixed orders.

3. Inadequate infrastructure

Many local authorities realize the need and are in the process of regulating emission limits. However, a wider agreement is needed that improve existing facilities and build new systems to meet the needs of everyone involved in logistics activities.

4. Cost Controls

Whether carried out in-house or outsourced, logistics operations face tight rates and margins. These financial pressures push investing in infrastructure, process automation or more efficient handling equipment further down the list of importance.

5. Consumer demands

For the customer, logistics is an intangible process until a package actually arrives. With the demand for 24-hour deliveries it’s difficult to consolidate loads to maximize your transport flows, let alone consider green logistics policies.

Moreover, logistical costs are often not itemized on an invoice making them invisible to the consumer. This diminishes delivery cost relevance and therefore, reduces the incentive for a business to invest in environmental sustainability.

Sustainable logistics strategies

1. Include environmentally friendly criteria in your procurement policies

When it comes to assessing suppliers’ proposals, sustainability standards can be included in a company’s purchasing and procurement policy.

This helps to evaluate the possibilities of purchasing eco-friendly supplies. As an example, more efficient industrial vehicle options help to curb greenhouse gas emissions – especially in the light duty class.

Furthermore, it’s worth looking into whether funding or a subsidy is available to help purchase them.

2. Minimize transport fleet environmental impact

Transport is a major contributor to the carbon footprint area in the logistics chain. Aside from retrofitting existing vehicles to limit emissions, or buying cleaner running vehicles, it’s also necessary to use systems that assist delivery route planning and prioritize load pooling.

With the help of systems such as real-time monitoring, not only do you achieve higher efficiency in fleet management, but you also cut back the overall emissions produced by the transport.

3. Follow sustainable warehouse construction and management standards

The current boom in the logistics sector is driving demand for new warehouses or forcing companies to redesign their infrastructure to meet market requirements.

As such, there are different ways in which an environmentally friendly operation can be reflected in warehouse design.

4. Reduce and recycle the waste produced in your warehouse

One of the measures to help apply environmental logistics in a warehouse is to use sustainable standards to manage the waste generated:

  • Establish a waste sorting procedure according to the materials to be recycled.
  • Reduce in-warehouse paper usage by implementing IT solutions such as the ProVision warehouse management software.
  • Manage special waste controls so that they comply with appropriate recycling procedures.

Reduce and recycle the waste produced in your warehouse

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5. Improve stock management and implement reverse logistics processes

Achieving more efficient storage facilities follows one of sustainable logistics management core principles: reduce waste through overall process improvement. Some measures of which include:

  • Use a combination of good storage location management and optimized picking plans to reduce overall movements in your warehouse.
  • Incorporate the use of robots and automated systems in your warehouse to help prevent stock damage caused by manual handling of goods.
  • With perishable goods, accurately manage the FIFO criterion to control expirations and prevent goods from spoiling.
  • Leverage reverse logistics management by establishing quality control processes for returned products.

The Advantages of Green Logistics

There are compelling reasons why green logistics continues to gain ground:

  • A forward-thinking company that uses green logistics policies gives it a strategic advantage over the competition. Not only do they level-up your brand and set it apart, but they also future-proof your company, which inevitably must be sustainable.
  • Energy saving measures are an effective strategy for coping with rising fuel and supply costs.
  • Green logistics participation ensures that a company is prepared to comply with environmental regulations.

At Brimich, not only do we go green in our company, we also offer our customers our experience in managing multiple types of warehouses to make them more efficient and sustainable.