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How logistics can help deliver a greener world

Doing business today is more complicated than it was a decade ago. One of the main forces reshaping business comes from the growing realization that human actions impact ecosystems, and not in a good way. According to meteorologists, the world has entered a 5-year period of ascending temperatures, driven by continued emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gas and the return of the “El Niño” climate pattern. Warming oceans, a record drop of sea ice in Antarctica, and climbing surface temperatures across the south and Southwestern U.S., Mexico, and elsewhere all signal changed environmental concerns businesses must confront.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), transportation, as a sector, is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., standing at 28%. With e-commerce fueling the growth of online shopping and expectations for rapid, at-home delivery, this percentage will only rise.

Even as climate change challenges those businesses that rely on transportation, many companies continue to resist investing in sustainability solutions. Why? One reason is the uncertainty surrounding companies, in the form of inflationary pressures, geopolitical conflicts, and global supply chain disruptions. Amid this ambiguity, it is difficult to identify the long-term benefits of having the right (new) technology in place and implementing the right supply chain strategies.

But there is a set of countervailing pressures, as well, that companies have to contend with. Consumer behavior, government regulations, and investors demand that companies reduce their emissions. Financial success in the next quarter century will require companies to do their part to minimize their environmental impact.

As an industry, logistics can play a major role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, through a changed, more intelligent approach to transportation management. Green transport, especially green surface transport, can help by itself, and it can also represent a launch pad for broader corporate sustainability efforts.

Keeping the logistics flowing in a world of change.

Companies can start their work in green logistics by taking three straightforward actions:

  1. Document carbon output (as well as convert other emissions into CO2e). Thousands of calculators and just as many consultants are available to help with these calculations.
  2. Set reduction goals. The EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership has assembled an array of best practices for developing and tracking targets.
  3. Take steps to reduce carbon emissions. For surface transportation, reductions can occur through more efficient driving, the use of intelligent fleet management, the use of new fuels, the centralization of logistics platforms, route planning, and the use electric vehicles (EVs). These actions bring rewards by lowering emissions, information that can then be communicated to stakeholders. 

An environmentally friendly delivery service is a key component of a corporate logistics strategy. True, green logistics requires new investments and changed practices. But given consumers’ changed preferences and regulators’ increased involvement, companies that do not alter their operations risk becoming fossils themselves.

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