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Guide to Reducing Carbon Footprint in Logistics

Trucks on the road driving at the optimal speed to help reducing carbon footprint in logistics.

A century ago, it wasn't so common to see companies and corporations showing much interest in environmental preservation. This trend of "turning a blind eye" to the consequences some industries have on nature is fortunately disappearing. Thanks to numerous initiatives based on studies over the last 60 years, the business mentality is finally transforming. Now, it's almost common acceptance that everyone can decrease the impact on the environment by reducing the carbon footprint. We see an increasing number of practices, from production to delivery, that benefit preservation. With transportation being among the first to address the issue, many supply chains are starting to implement different solutions for reducing carbon footprint in logistics.

Reducing Carbon Footprint in Logistics

Before we explain how reducing carbon footprint in logistics should be approached, let's see some causes. Considering the technological advancement we have been experiencing since the earliest industrial revolution, it seems that the environment has never been in the foreground. Because of that, the progress made over time is finally exposing the actual costs of such non-considerations. As a result, the mass usage of fossil fuels, combined with other polluting materials, is inevitably leading to the greenhouse effect. Eventually, this forces everyone, from simple consumers to large corporations, to increase their environmental awareness.

And when it comes to logistics, it's becoming essential to take a greener approach to continue to grow and improve.

Benefits of eco-friendly solutions

Undoubtedly, logistics are an essential part of supply chains and many distributive systems. Because of its nature of operations, mainly transportation, storage, and delivery, there is a need for more efficient logistic solutions to sustain its expansion. This is where integrating eco-friendly alternatives might benefit logistics in more than one way. When a company is observed as the one that helps to keep the environment safe and healthy, it can:

Filling the reservoir with fossil fuel.
Overexcessive use of fossil fuels is leading to pollution.
  • attract more clients

  • extend the potential candidates pool

  • save money through various incentives and tax reliefs

  • expand the offer with more efficient transporting solutions

  • lead to the implementation of better management of operations

  • increase its future potential growth

With all the benefits of reducing carbon footprint in logistics, let's see how what a company can do to commit to sustainability.

Organizing and centralizing your supply networks

In general, logistics consist of various means of transportation and other supply networks. With each step of distribution, the potential of emissions arises. For example, there are road, rail, ocean, and air transportation means—each consuming a different portion of fuels and providing different efficiency. To reduce emissions, companies should, if possible, centralize their network organization and turn to alternative transportation means. Also, if circumstances allow, they can try to reduce the number of steps between points.

In some cases, this will reduce the number of vehicles required for delivery and minimize their carbon footprint. As an example, direct flights will be much better and eco-efficient solutions. The main reason is that airfreights are using the most fuel when taking-off and landing.

Another example is the moving industry. Their logistics are often efficient but also have a high carbon footprint considering the nature of business. Fortunately, if you take a look at, you can find many companies that turn to the implementation of green practices to help the cause. Many restructure their operation, from storage to transportation, in order to reduce the carbon footprint and increase efficiency.

Switching to greener suppliers

Logistics is not all about vehicles and fuels. Because a large portion includes warehousing and other storage means, plenty of other materials are in use. As a simple example, consider the number and types of packing materials across all the different storages. And, there are also countless monitoring and management offices, with their own set of materials and supplies. The thing is, the production and processing of each of those materials have their own carbon footprint. And there is also a question of disposal. Because of these reasons, it's in the interest of each logistics company to consider switching to eco-friendly suppliers.

More eco-friendly means of transportation

Changing your delivery operations to greener means of transport can help reduce emissions. However, this is not so easy. Road transportation around the globe is probably the one with the highest carbon footprint. But, it's essential for business. This is where rails can be an alternative, but unfortunately, it's not always possible. Ocean transportation can be more efficient considering the number of goods they can transport, but they have the highest sulfur emissions, and they are slower.

Motor engine.
Electric vehicle engines differ a lot from traditional fuel engines.

As a potential solution, the evolution of electric vehicles can significantly help solve these issues. But they have their own set of problems and are still in the early stage of development. At least when it comes to using them for transporting goods, because batteries still don't have the right capacity and range. Another way to reduce the carbon footprint might be by implementing optimal driving techniques. One of the reasons for this is because hard braking and fast acceleration have proved to be the biggest fuel consumers.

Reducing unnecessary waste

Reduction of waste might be the most effective way to reduce the carbon footprint. As we have said above, different materials can be used throughout the distribution cycle to minimize pollution and ease the disposing process. The only downside preventing this from being wholly accepted is that the costs of eco-friendly materials are rising.

Another area logistics can focus on is fuel efficiency. More fuel consumption means more pollution. The more time the truck, for example, is standing in place, the less efficient it is. At the same time, it endangers the environment. One way to solve this is to organize the logistic of transportation better. In general, many states, countries, and cities are working hard on developing alternate routes for transporters. Not only to reduce the emission of gasses in populated areas, which is their primary goal, but to improve fuel consumption efficiency on the roads as well. This, along with other benefits, helps logistics reduce waste and improve their

The 3 Rs (Recycle, Reuse, Repair)

This principle includes reusing all the materials instead of pilling them up and writing them off. It refers not only to supply materials but vehicles as well. For this reason, we have producers of recyclable packing materials that help with the global reduction of carbon footprint.

An old tire in the snow.
There is a lot of waste in the auto industry; however, many things can be reused.

And that's not the end. Regular maintenance of machines and vehicles can also help. Not only by making them operable but also to improve their energy consumption. Overall, you can help reducing carbon footprint in logistics by keeping your transportation vehicles in optimal working condition.


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