What does the future look like for Net-Zero Logistics?
Sustainability is now an unavoidable topic that permeates industry boundaries and will soon, in some way, influence every decision businesses take. Since 2019, it’s been enshrined in UK law that we must have achieved net zero emissions by 2050, a mere 28 years from now.
While this influences all industries, it has an especially significant impact on logistics; it raises a number of challenges for a traditionally emissions-high process. Reaching net-zero in logistics will be a complex process, but there are already significant developments being made in several areas, from warehouse management to alternative fuels.
Alternative fuels and EVs
A significant part of achieving net-zero in logistics by 2050 will consist of abandoning traditional hydrocarbons, primarily diesel. This will likely be achieved through alternatives:
When people think of alternatives to traditional hydrocarbons, they often think of electric vehicles (or EVs). Some operators, notably DHL, are already bringing electric vehicles into their fleets, in order to meet targets. While there are currently teething problems, issues such as limited charging infrastructure will soon become a thing of the past as the world comes up to speed. Electric vehicles might be more appropriate for last mile logistics, where internal combustion engines are the most inefficient and electric chargers are most likely to be accessible.
Another solution, one that’s talked about less than electric-powered vehicles, is alternative fuel. One option is bioethanol; bioethanol can be grown and is the result of a specific fermentation of certain crops, including corn and sugarcane. Another solution is biodiesel, typically a mixture of diesel with special vegetable oils, from plants including rapeseed, palm and soybean.
A third option is biomethane, a gas which is a byproduct of the anaerobic digestion of matter. It can be gathered from a wide variety of sources, including agriculture, sewage, food waste and landfill. The burning of methane also offers a secondary benefit, as carbon dioxide is a less potent greenhouse gas than pure methane.
Leveraging partnerships with a goal of net-zero
In most situations, it will be through partnerships with logistics providers that net-zero will be achieved in logistics. An example of such a potential partner is Joloda, a company that specialises in providing energy-efficient and resource-efficient loading solutions. Outsourcing each step of the logistics process allows companies to take advantage of the expertise of specialists, which will generally increase efficiency and help in the journey to a net-zero future.
While a lot of focus is placed on minimising emissions in the transportation part of the logistics process, it’s important to also consider optimising warehouses. A key part of this will be switching to efficient and renewable energy sources – one way of achieving this will be through using solar energy, with warehouse roofs often a perfect location for solar panel placement. Adopting electric forklift trucks will also be a part of the process.