Achieving sustainable logistics is an issue of global importance. Sustainable logistics refers to the practices aimed at improving the sustainability of supply chain activities. It aims to lower the ecological effects of logistics activities, ranging from the supply and transformation of raw materials, storage, packaging and distribution. The concept involves not only the environmental implications but the social and economic effects as well.
The ecological effects of logistics activities include noise pollution and CO2 emissions. This is why sustainable logistics is also referred to as “green logistics”. It is important to reduce the negative effects of the activities of the supply chain on the environment, the economy and society. The following are some actions that can be taken to achieve sustainability:
The use of alternative vehicle or fuel technologies. Diesel is the common fuel used in delivery trucks. There are more environmentally friendly vehicles that cause less pollution, such as electric and hybrid vehicles. Using eco-friendly vehicles in place of diesel trucks might be the future of transportation.
Choosing renewable energy. Using Carbon-neutral fuels such as Biofuel, which is considered a source of renewable energy, instead of fossil fuels would be an important step towards social and ecological sustainability. Wind and solar power also have a less negative impact on the environment and decrease fossil fuel usage. Renewable energy is globally embraced by industries, in an effort to achieve sustainability.
Stakeholder engagement. This involves engaging company stakeholders in a dialogue, to identify relevant areas that may generate externalities. This is fundamental to strategizing and the correct planning of company policies.
Using “Yard Logistics”. Yard logistics has a significant impact on the supply chain. It is described as the intersection between warehouses and transportation management. It involves effective planning of activities in order to avoid processing gaps between logistics operations. This results in reduced waste, carbon emissions, transport and labour costs.
Pop-up warehouses. These are smaller-scale centres with multiple locations, which make distribution less cumbersome and more geographically accessible. The effect of this is that the warehouses are brought closer to customers, thereby reducing distance, reducing delivery time and cost, and cutting down on carbon emissions.
Implementing the 4 Rs of waste management. The 4 Rs are: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover. Reduce the accumulation of waste by using reusable materials and cutting down on the use of excess materials; use less, waste less. Reuse materials more than once to minimize the production of waste. Recycle materials where possible and use them in other forms. Recover waste items that can be converted into resources or energy.
As logistics service providers, we must strive for sustainability in logistics management, which implies a balance between environmental care, societal health and economic growth.