Sustainability in Logistics


Melton Logistics – 05/03/2024

To understand the importance of sustainable logistics, we have to first understand how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. Prior to the 1900’s, most transportation of goods was done slowly via steamship and rail. Following the boom of industrialization and the commercialization of the home computer, the average transportation time to ship the same goods went from 2 to 4 months down to 2 days to 4 weeks today.

While these developments in shipping have significantly improved the efficiency of nearly every industry, it’s also raised concerns about their lasting impacts from consumers. At its current rate, the logistics industry has been noted to have been responsible for around a quarter of global emissions; and in 2024, sustainability is more important to people than ever. A study conducted by the PEW Research center shows that 67% of Gen-Z and 71% of Millennials believe that practicing sustainability should be a top priority, and nearly 70% of U.S. adults believe corporations aren’t doing enough to promote sustainability in their business. As one of the largest producers of emissions, it’s key that the transportation industry starts looking closer at their sustainability practices.

Where to Start with Sustainable Logistics

Many companies looking to start transitioning their logistics models to function sustainably may find the task challenging to begin with. Here are some of the methods many companies may utilize to start this transition:

Sustainability Assessment

For all companies in transportation, efficiency is the key to success. However, those that have adapted to changes over long periods of time may find themselves using older frameworks than those currently in use today when it comes to shipping and supply-chain services. A sustainability assessment can be conducted to assess the overall strategy and see where more sustainable practices can be put in place, whether by updating the current framework, or by investigating new methods for current processes. Generally, this can be done by an internal coordinator, or can be outsourced to a sustainability consultant specific to your industry.

Route Optimization

Trucking companies know that finding the fastest, safest, and most efficient routes between a shipper and a consignee is integral to business operations. Fuel efficiency is a major factor in route optimization, as it not only lessens the environmental impacts of each load individually, but overall saves carriers millions every year.

Sprout growing from dirt

Integrated Logistics

Efficiency across multiple departments in any company is going to lead to more sustainable and beneficial outcomes. By using integrated logistics practices to align your supply chain across all departments, it diminishes the possibilities for product delays and improves customer services.

Other notable steps a company can take are investing in renewable energy and technology to incorporate into their current practices, or even investing in sustainable transportation options that minimize waste space. Stay updated on new technologies and programs that could promote sustainable operations for your business!

How to Make Current Logistics Practices More Sustainable

Transportation companies that currently utilize sustainable practices are always on the lookout for ways to improve business practices across all their operations, but that can be easier said than done.

Here are some methods many companies utilize to continue their efforts in sustainability:

•  Using local suppliers for materials and resources: Supporting local suppliers with your business is a great way to create goodwill in your community, but it can also cut transportation costs and reduce emissions when materials have to travel shorter distances. Utilizing recycled materials in your products and processes when applicable can also help greatly offset environmental impacts.

•  Using renewable energy or technology: This could be implemented across many areas, and it doesn’t necessarily need to disrupt your entire business. Something as simple as utilizing solar panels at the corporate office can make an impact. You can also try investigating alternative fuel sources, utilizing greener transport options, and more!

•  Reducing overall waste: Waste can become a huge issue for large businesses who don’t frequently review their business practices. Not only is it important to reduce the amount of waste in things like unnecessary packaging, but outdated practices can generate issues over time – take the time to analyze your operations and see if there’s any problems that cause your resources to be used inefficiently.

Overall, efficiency and effectiveness in any company’s logistics planning should always be considered whenever they’re looking to expand, and it will only become more important as time goes on. Fully implementing any sustainable practices is a careful process that should be done over time, but the sustainability of your processes should always be considered; not only to maximize efficiency in your business, but to promote decarbonization and more efficient resource consumption.

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