With the growing significance of operating a more environmentally friendly supply chain, sustainable logistics is becoming an increasingly popular, and necessary, model.

Here, we explore the importance of sustainability in logistics, its best practices and benefits, and how we can plan for the future of logistics with sustainability as a priority.

What is sustainable logistics?

Sustainable logistics is essentially about making logistics, freight and transportation more sustainable, by minimising the environmental impact of the practices involved in these processes.

There are various ways you can implement sustainability into your logistics services. Here are some examples of best practice when it comes to sustainable logistics:

  • Sustainability assessment - assess your overall logistics strategy to see where more sustainable practices could be implemented.
  • Optimise your travel routes - minimise unnecessary travel and waiting times to reduce your fuel consumption.
  • Renewable energy or technology - review the potential to incorporate more green or renewable energy or technologies into your logistics strategy.
  • Avoid wasted energy on partial capacity – minimise waste space and energy by ensuring your containers and transport are packed to maximum capacity.
  • Sustainable packaging – introduce recyclable or sustainable packaging into your logistics strategy.
  • Use integrated logistics – align your supply chain across all departments to maximise your overall efficiency.
  • Greener transport options – consider greener alternatives to your transport where possible, e.g. electric-powered vehicles.

Integrating sustainability into your supply chain and logistics should be a priority for businesses, but it’s important to remember that it is an ongoing process and long-term goal. The important thing is to make a start on introducing more sustainable logistical practices and incorporate them into your future logistics strategy.

How do I get started with sustainable logistics?

As we mentioned, getting started with sustainable logistics can be challenging and a bit daunting, so let’s look at how you can start to implement sustainable logistics practices into your business strategy.

A key starting point is making sure your logistics process is as efficient as possible. This can be achieved by using a variety of transport options to get your products where they need to go. For example, using inland transportation services such as train freight or inland water transport alongside road freight can help to increase the efficiency of your journey. These modes of transports omit less air pollution, avoid congestion and can help you get your cargo from A to B faster and more efficiently.

What’s the importance of sustainability in logistics and transport?

When it comes to tackling climate change, the logistics and transport sector can have a strong influence and impact. Large logistics companies are some of the key players that can make a positive change by implementing more sustainable logistics services and advocating this as the norm.

There are numerous benefits of sustainable logistics and supply chain management, for both the environment and for businesses. These include:

  • Reduced emissions and energy usage.
  • Reducing waste creates a more efficient and cost-effective supply chain.
  • Protects against reputational damage.
  • Improved continuity of supply by diversifying your supply chain.
  • More attractive to customers.
  • Increasing environmental awareness.
  • Alignment with government goals and commitments.

As awareness and concern around sustainability continues to rise, it’s likely sustainable logistics and supply chain management is what the future of logistics will look like.

Top tips for being sustainable

Making business practices more sustainable across all operations is quickly becoming a priority for all companies. We spoke to a bunch of budding entrepreneurs about their business success stories, finding out how they integrated sustainability into their business and why it is so important to them.

After speaking with them, we’ve put together a few top tips on how to be sustainable:

  • Use local suppliers to source your resources and materials.
  • Use recycled materials in your products and processes.
  • Use renewable energy or technologies where possible.
  • Minimise your waste by removing unnecessary packaging, reusing and recycling and moving from paper to digital where possible.
  • Using integrated logistics to optimise the efficiency and sustainability of your end-to-end logistics and transportation. 

How Maersk is working to make logistics more sustainable

At Maersk, we are working towards a greener future of more sustainable logistics. Our ambition is to have net zero emissions by 2040. Among other initiatives, we are looking to achieve this by focusing on the decarbonisation of customer supply chains and the introduction of the first container ships run on green methanol. The work has already begun, with investments in green fuels and technology, responsible ship recycling and more efficient resource consumption.

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