Sustainable Practices in Logistics: How to Reduce Your Business’ Environmental Footprint

published Jun 29, 2023
1 min read

Global action against the effects of climate change is popular amongst the public, with 2021 ONS figures showing three quarters of adults in Great Britain were worried about climate change and 81% had taken steps to reduce their impact on the environment. As the public moves to mitigate their environmental footprint, they will increasingly look at the businesses they use and interact with every day and make purchase decisions based on what steps have been taken.

According to Accenture, in 2023, supply chains are responsible for as much as 60% of global supply chains, with logistics accounting for a large portion of this. To keep consumers on side and act against climate change, we look at some of the key environmental challenges in logistics and the most important steps managers can take to reduce their footprint.

Sustainable Logistics

Environmental Challenges in Logistics

Traditional logistics makes up such a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions due to several factors. First, most vehicles, be it road, air, sea, or rail, are based on combustion engines which release CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Warehouses also require large amounts of energy to run, given many products must be stored at a certain temperature and facilities must be lit. Water can be polluted by both transport and warehousing activities too, due to waste generation from packaging in particular.

Sustainable practices are required to address these challenges and mitigate the environmental impact of B2B logistics.

Sustainable Transportation and Fleet Management

There are several ways businesses can improve their approach to transportation. First, they can invest in greener methods of transportation, such as electric or hybrid vehicles. When running these vehicles, approaches like efficient route planning and load consolidation can then reduce fuel and electricity consumption, minimizing carbon emissions.

Collaborative logistics is another helpful approach, and a particularly helpful one for businesses that rely on same-day couriers to meet their logistics needs. Instead of having in-house capabilities, using a third-party which is itself better optimised, can be a better environmental option. The benefits of this include reduced empty miles, improved resource utilization, and lower environmental impact.

Sustainable Warehousing and Packaging

With more customers than ever looking for fast and effective online delivery, warehousing has become crucial for all manner of businesses. To reduce the impact of your warehouse operations, it’s important to think holistically. First, invest in energy-efficient lighting and equipment, replacing and upgrading legacy hardware. This will have the additional benefit of reducing your running costs too.

Next, consider sustainable packaging – biodegradable plastics and paper-based cardboard that is lightweight, reducing your energy consumption further. Make sure recycling these materials is easy for staff.

Finally, design your warehouse efficient. Build upwards as opposed to increasing the lateral footprint of your facility and taking up land in the process. And insulate your property, heating it using efficient means such as ground source heat pumps.