Imagine a customer purchasing an entire outfit from an online marketplace, from the shirt down to the socks. They receive multiple tracking numbers for their packages set to be delivered at various times on different days. The speed at which large supply chains operate impresses the customer. However, the costs of quick delivery impact sustainable logistics resources and the environment because of extra packaging waste and carbon emissions.
Implementing sustainable logistics is posing many challenges for supply chains today. It is common knowledge that increasing customer satisfaction and cutting costs are the two key ways to increase supply chain efficiency. To achieve this, the distribution and transport activities, which make up the final step of the chain, must manage risks directly tied to the client’s needs. Quick deliveries and environmentally friendly transportation take top priority.
The Importance of Sustainable Logistics
Sustainable logistics aims to achieve a lower ecological footprint with its processes. Goals such as reduced CO2 emissions, noise pollution, and accidents are some examples of this. That’s why logistics providers must seek to strike a balance between economic development, environmental protection, and societal well-being.
There are several advantages businesses can enjoy when committing to attaining sustainable logistics. With it, companies could improve brand reputation, cost savings, environmental responsibility, and supply chain efficiency. It could also provide new collaborations.
But it requires a shift from a linear economic model to a circular industrial economy. Doing so improves the quality of raw materials and finished goods. With both manufacturing production and customer demand going up, sustainability in logistics is becoming increasingly important.
Yet some businesses believe that switching to sustainable solutions is expensive. Unfortunately, some decision-makers view logistics operations as nothing more than expenses that don’t add value to the company or its clients. These businesses typically strive to minimize the consumer’s exposure to these costs by compressing them as much as possible. On top of that, they choose suppliers based on their lowest prices. However, that isn’t always the case in practice. Organizations can still use cutting-edge planning tools and follow sustainability rules while maintaining a high-profit margin.
Municipalities, citizens, and governments are among the stakeholders calling for more sustainable mobility alternatives. Therefore, the sooner businesses comply, the better they are in the long run. Utilizing eco-friendly logistics management techniques and reducing your carbon footprint can also increase consumer brand loyalty.
Five Sustainable Logistics Practices
There are many tools and methods for supply chain management and sustainable logistics thanks to developing technologies. This makes it possible to maximize profits and promote environmental preservation simultaneously. One of the most effective solutions is to use data to enhance ineffective supply chain systems.
Today’s enterprises have far more accessible access to cost-effective, sustainable solutions than they did in the past. In the post-COVID-19 world, society has become more aware of its obligation to the environment. It’s not uncommon to read news reports about firms taking steps to be carbon neutral, from design to operation daily.
Here are some sustainable logistics practices you can implement in your business for a greener environmental footprint.
1. The 4R’s Strategy
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover. Aiming for sustainability is a crucial problem for the production model and the supply chain. This approach maximizes the use of resources and eliminates those not required. These include decreasing waste, reusing when practical, and recovering to prevent resource waste. Doing so generates savings that raise the profitability of the distribution process in addition to helping the environment.
It can be as easy as forgoing single-use plastics in favor of reusable packaging materials. Alternatively, instead of just dumping and carelessly disposing of waste. Avoid using hazardous materials that can potentially endanger both people and the environment.
2. Explore the Use of Alternative Vehicle and Fuel Technologies
Many delivery truck fleets rely on diesel fuel due to its affordability. Diesel engines are not necessarily better for the environment, but compared to gas engines, diesel trucks emit 13% more CO2.
To achieve ecological and social sustainability, companies should replace outdated trucks with eco-friendly vehicles and use lower-carbon fuels like biofuel. Many eco-friendly products available on the market improve on previously established practices. More industries employ green transportation options like hybrid or electric cars, eco-friendly train systems, and sea cargo.
Fleet renovation can be too expensive for some companies. Seeking government programs or applying for loans to meet this requirement is an excellent starting point for sustainability.
Businesses can also reduce distribution facilities’ emissions by using clean energy-powered electricity and water recycling technologies. Wind and solar energy are less environmentally harmful and use less fossil fuel and electricity.
3. Using Data for Greater Operational Visibility
Businesses may operate more effectively and efficiently by putting data at the core of supply chain operations. An open logistics ecosystem enables corporate partners to manage logistics operations better. Constituents and staff can monitor real-time transit methods and select the best choices. This improves freight coordination and material and goods tracking. Additionally, by filling trucks, businesses may reduce the danger of empty miles, which is advantageous for both the environment and their bottom line.
To enhance delivery services, you need to collect data. Customers can specify when they will be at home to accept the goods, for instance, using some delivery applications. This cuts down on unnecessary trips to vacant homes.
Finding out where your packages are delivered and how well they are being received might help your logistics operation have a smaller carbon footprint.
By improving visibility across the whole supply chain, Technology has changed how the entire supply chain functions by improving overall visibility. Vendors can monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to support performance efforts thanks to the increased openness.
Removing inefficiencies that raise costs and consume resources often results in greater sustainability. You can improve your supply chain’s sustainability by lowering KPIs like average dwell time and transit time to distance.
4. Smart Warehouse Network
It’s one thing to make your delivery fleets travel long distances; it’s another to bring your products closer to your customers.
With the rise of last-mile delivery emissions, logistics companies constantly look for ways to lower their carbon footprints. This is one of the primary indicators of genuinely sustainable supply chain logistics.
Central distribution warehouses are a great way to cut last-mile emissions since they bring businesses closer to customers. Businesses benefit from reduced delivery costs and time and increased flexibility to lessen supply chain disruptions.
There’s also an added benefit of supporting local businesses this way. You use less fuel and resources to support local businesses than to send things from afar. Foster greater connections in your community by bringing goods and services closer.
5. Optimized Planning and Practices
We must hold each other accountable to build a better, more sustainable future. Our personal, environmentally friendly business practices are within our control, but knowing that you have the power to affect the entire sector is a game-changer. Make an effort to promote ethical logistics methods like those mentioned above, but also ensure that the merchants you work with share your values. Doing business with other green companies guarantees that every link in your supply chain is sustainable and green.
Reducing paper consumption in the workplace and going digital can lessen your environmental impact. The first step in achieving sustainable goals is understanding how much pollution our company’s logistics efforts produce. There are specialized software solutions that calculate a fleet’s carbon footprint. This data makes organizing transport routes and loads easier to make them more efficient and sustainable.
By nature, logistics presents multiple environmental challenges. However, every initiative to promote sustainable logistics is beneficial. Therefore, while we all work toward a more sustainable future, we must take action wherever and whenever possible. We’re all in this together, and it’s not just one business’s responsibility to enact change.
As we’ve discussed, business sustainability can be achieved in various ways. Companies can explore waste reduction and the use of clean energy sources. It can also utilize sustainable materials, the use of eco-friendly technologies, and more. To develop a sustainable supply chain and achieve carbon neutrality, one of the key building blocks is the implementation of environmentally friendly logistical solutions.
ZhenHub assists in your plans for sustainable logistics by giving you an unprecedented look at your supply chain operations. Manage inventory, shipping routes, and warehousing conveniently on our digital platform. Sign up today and get started with greener logistics solutions.