Green logistics for a sustainable supply chain

Green logistics for a sustainable supply chain

In a globally networked economy, transportation over sometimes long distances is often unavoidable. For effective climate protection, there is a need for a transformation away from traditional logistics strategies and toward environmentally compatible processes that protect our planet in the long term. Green logistics is the keyword that has been occupying us for many years. What does it mean exactly?

Green logistics transport: ecologically sustainable planning

The target system of the transport industry is in a state of upheaval and will change. It will no longer be just about fast, perfectly timed logistics in the most cost-effective way possible, but also about conserving the environment and resources. Our economy is not a stand-alone system; it stands or falls on the health of our planet – and the availability of key raw materials. Green logistics will make the system fit for the future, which is why we invest in it in our services and welcome every step toward greater sustainability.

As a logistics company with many years of experience, we at ECL have found that ecological and economic efficiency can complement each other with good planning, and we will pay more attention to this in the future. For us, sustainability means respecting planet earth to the maximum and at the same time not losing sight of the economy. Our customers need affordable services with added value – not pipe dreams. Emission limits play an important role, as do fixed environmental standards. Supply chains can be fine-tuned within this framework.

Green logistics measures: How to reduce CO2 footprint.

Reducing greenhouse gas: modern logistics companies like ECL regularly measure their CO2 footprint and keep a close eye on it. This serves as the starting point for numerous green logistics measures that lead to further improvements. The international standard UNE-EN 16258:2013 provides practical guidance on how to calculate energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Preventing environmental damage: In addition to CO2 emissions, we are also concerned about preventing soil, air and water pollution. Wherever we transport and store, the environment should remain as undamaged as possible. This is an important concern for us, and we will pay increased attention to it. Accordingly, green logistics also includes noise reduction, because noise emissions always have an effect on nature and people.

Packaging concept: A third point is added, and that is the packaging concept. Transport almost never works without protective packaging, which has often been to the detriment of the environment. Today, we are working to pay attention to the appropriate use of these materials, reusing containers more than once and recycling packaging instead of disposing of it permanently. In this way, green logistics manages to drastically reduce its impact on the environment.

Green logistics and its hotspots: Defusing hotspots

Green logistics has its own hotspots, which are being worked on around the world. Not everywhere is already running as smoothly as the industry and consumers / consumers would like. We are in the middle of a process of searching, trying and finding. Here are the hotspots for the green logistics of the future:

  1. Fossil fuels in transportation: still global supply chains are heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Where oil and gas are still essential, the challenge is to minimize consumption. This is being done through technological innovations, but also by networks more efficiently and, in doing so, uses means of transport with as positive a pollutant balance as possible.
  2. The “last mile”: E-commerce has greatly increased the importance of the “last mile. This refers to the last few kilometers of delivery through urban traffic to the end customer. The order situation here is very heterogeneous, the capacity utilization is not always full, and the routes are sometimes inefficient. Green logistics also has this sore spot in mind. Electric cars and bicycle couriers are available for delivery in urban traffic, and drones are under discussion for the future in e-commerce logistics.
  3. Financial bottlenecks: conversions always cost money first, even if the investment ultimately means financial relief. Because logistics processes are often tied to fixed budgets and tariffs, many companies find it difficult to get out of the old rut and embrace new logistics processes. One thing is clear: the sooner the changeover takes place, the sooner the first fruits can be reaped, both ecologically and economically.
  4. Customer requirements: Logistics is “invisible” to customers in many places. What end customers see is when and how quickly something reaches them – and that should be as quickly as possible. 24-hour deliveries require a great deal of planning if they are to be not only punctual but also sustainable. Transport flows must be used to the maximum for this, which is not always possible. A change in awareness toward green logistics could be beneficial at this point, as could new delivery concepts.

Green logistics and warehouse design: plus points for the environment

Green logistics also impacts warehouse design. The focus is currently on 4.0 logistics buildings that are designed and built to enable sustainable management. Logistics companies receive certificates for their environmentally friendly warehouses, the best known of which are LEED and BREEAM. These seals stand for sustainability in the warehouse sector, which means low water and energy consumption as well as the use of alternative power sources. The building materials used are also carefully checked for sustainability before certification, as is waste disposal. The overall concept must be coherent in order to receive one of the coveted sustainability seals for green logistics.

How can energy be saved in storage?

At ECL, we are working to make sustainable transport and warehousing an efficient mix. Saving energy in warehousing is part of this. For example, those who fully automate their warehouse processes no longer need artificial light – or very little of it. The concept is familiar from lights-out manufacturing.

Packaging materials are also geared toward saving energy: Packaging should be recyclable and resource-saving, but also adapted to the product as far as possible. Adaptive packaging enriches green logistics, it is versatile and helps to pack a lot with as little material as possible.

Green logistics and waste: from recycling to reduction

For many decades, packaging was simply there for one-time use and to be carelessly discarded. Green logistics has changed that decisively. Reuse is the main goal, but when a product is no longer usable, disposal should be done in a sustainable way. Paper consumption can be reduced simply by using comprehensive IT solutions in the warehouse. It is also important to install a waste sorting system that takes into account recyclable materials and separates them carefully. This rounds off green logistics to the icing on the cake.

ECL Kontor is an international logistics company established in 2004 with roots in customs clearance and transport organisation.


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