How logistics companies can reduce their carbon footprint

Raging forest fires, wrecking tornadoes, rising sea levels and intense heat waves – one may think how all this and other signs of global warming are connected to the logistics industry. All of these are effects of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions. According to the Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data, 14% of the emissions are caused due to transportation. As a matter of fact, in the US alone, transportation is the biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Diving deeper, more than 3 quarters of the greenhouse emissions associated with many industries come from their supply chains.

There has been a magnificent surge of e-commerce activities in the past decade and while they have augmented to being mostly paperless in their operations, their dependence on pollution-intensive logistics has multiplied along with the growing piles of crimpled cardboard boxes, bubble wraps, packing material etc.

With e-commerce fostering each year, there has been an equal amplification in the logistics industry too, thus, jacking up the carbon footprint as well. This makes it imperative to introduce sustainability changes to the industry immediately.

Here are some practices that can be taken into consideration by logistics companies that can reduce their carbon footprint.

Making warehouses greener

Warehousing is a significant part of the supply chain and often needs to be climate controlled. While it is evident that air-conditioning is not the most eco-friendly practice, however, landscaping the surrounding area and installing proper insulation can be used to reduce the usage of air-conditioning. Additionally, using LED lights can help in saving up to 80% electricity while providing ample lighting.

Transitioning to environment friendly transportation

While ocean and air freight are the most used for logistics, none are totally environment friendly. Ocean transportation is considered cheaper but contributes notably to global sulfur emissions. On the other hand, air freight is considered faster and more reliable. Road transits are also costlier and not adding any value to reducing carbon emissions. Rail freight is a greener option as compared to road and costs less on long distances, however, it has its operational limitations as well. Logistics companies should opt for appropriate transportation along each stage of the supply chain so as to minimize their carbon footprint.

Reducing energy usage and waste production

Energy is consumed and waste is produced along all stages of the supply chain, right from raw material refining to warehouse management. You can train employees to ensure efficient usage of energy and limit paperwork.

Space utilization

While shipping, cube utilization of your packaging is an important variable that should be taken into consideration. Cube Utilization is an industry term that refers to the amount of the total available space that is actually utilized, expressed as a percentage. When space is completely filled with product, the cube utilization is 100%. Research by Forbes finds that shipping containers sailing across the oceans from Asia are 24% empty. This means that every year some 61 million TEUs of containers are shipped unnecessarily, costing tens of billions of dollars and emitting approximately 122 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Materials management

Foldable cardboard packaging is undoubtedly more environment-friendly than plastic, however, not using quality material can subdue your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint. A materials expertise can also provide insights on packaging efficiencies that yield cost savings.

Strategic analysis

The impact of different levels of your supply chain and their carbon footprint can be analyzed and measured to understand where workable efficiencies can be created.

Delivery route optimization

Optimal route planning results in faster deliveries, lesser distance covered, and thus, less fuel spent on the ground. An advanced route optimization software can be of huge help.

Improved supply chain visibility

With the help of real-time visibility tools, it is possible to reduce fuel wastage during idle hours or in traffic. Deliveries and returns can be picked when conveyance is travelling empty, resulting in fewer empty miles, often called “deadhead” miles. 

Logistics planning and technologies are bound to assist in reducing immediate pollution and eventually carbon footprints of the organizations. It will also help in optimizing functional costs and increase efficiency. Moreover, all international laws and regulations are pushing towards sustainable alternatives to conduct business. It is evident that as soon as companies adopt eco-friendly alternatives, they can reap the multiple benefits of green logistics.

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