The focus on sustainability is growing. Due to changing laws and regulations, rising energy prices, growing e-commerce and the growing demands of, for example, the consumer, there is more demand for sustainable logistics. Operational excellence stands for the making processes as efficient as possible. It is, indeed, not a given that these aspects are combined! In practice, sustainable initiatives are difficult or even impossible to start because the burdens seem to outweigh the benefits. Nevertheless, sustainable logistics can directly lead to cost savings and thus to a successful organization. With the continuing growth of this sector,, logistics need to be more sustainable if the system is to continue to work.
The larger the size and quantity of the product, the greater the need for transportation. With adjustments to the product design or the packaging method, the volume or weight can be reduced. Stackable products, lighter materials, reducing packaging material or “bio-based” materials can help make packaging more sustainable. This can lead to the optimization of loading and occupancy rates, which in turn can contribute to sustainable logistics.
Transport from A to B
The design of the logistics chain also has a major impact on sustainability. By optimizing the chain, the distance that has to be covered can be significantly reduced. The intermediaries also play a role in this chain; by providing larger, less frequent deliveries, the delivery frequency is reduced. In addition, the pressure in the inner cities can be reduced by offering more delivery options. More efficient, and possibly electric, transport can increase the quality of life in urban areas.
Only customizing the products and the chain will not suffice. Sustainable transport should be the norm, yet these two, sustainable and transport, seem to be opposites of each other. Transport involves burning fuel, which hugely contributes to CO2 emissions. Not really sustainable, right? However, the high amount of environmental pollution also means that there is a lot of room for improvement, for example through electric trucks. Advanced and far-reaching integration with software enables logistics service providers to make choices based on detailed and up-to-date information. Is road transport really the best solution? Perhaps inland navigation or rail can provide an environmentally friendly alternative.
The government is increasing pressure for sustainable logistics. Europe has even set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990. The consumer also has a growing need for sustainability when purchasing goods and services. According to the research of GfK (2016),the vast majority even wants companies to help make sustainable choices.
Although in practice it appears that sustainable logistics actually lead to a direct reduction in costs, innovative changes, such as in the ICT sector, are needed to solve these challenging issues. An integrated approach is crucial here!
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