Impact of sustainable logistics strategies on the environment

Sustainable Logistics Strategies and Environmental Impact

The shipping emissions caused by logistics activities are rising alarmingly and have alerted the management authorities. The shipping industry is turning towards green shipping and adopting green revolution in maritime and other logistics sectors to improve the environment by reducing carbon emissions. The impact of sustainable logistics has revolutionised the industry and is an initiative to downturn the shipping emission rate to zero by 2050. Let us learn more about how sustainable logistics impacts the environment.

Environmental impact of logistics

The logistics industry invariably impacts the environment because of the non-stop freight activities throughout the year. The logistics activities include material handling, procurement of finished goods, packaging, storage, transportation, and delivery to the intended destination. 

  • All these operations utilise immense energy resources to power up the vehicles and equipment. A significant amount of waste generation in logistics must be managed to prevent it from harming the environment. 
  • The processing of goods and their delivery generates high rates of greenhouse gases. It causes air, noise and water pollution and destroys the ecosystem. 
  • Logistics activities are responsible for significant carbon dioxide emissions in the air caused by transport via roadways and air. The emission levels are rising and will continue unless severe actions are taken.
  • Ships transporting goods on international water release immense amounts of solid and toxic waste that contaminates the water, harming the marine ecosystem.
  • The sound caused due to moving ships can travel deep underwater and hamper the aquatic mammals communicating through sound.
  • The logistics cycle consumes large amounts of non-recyclable and non-degradable waste, such as fuel, pallets and packaging material for one-time use.

It has been happening for decades and has begun to show up as adverse climatic changes due to global warming. To control and minimise this, IMO has led a call for a green initiative that adopts sustainable shipping practices to improve the environment.

Importance of sustainability in logistics

The impact of sustainable logistics can be increased by optimising logistics operations and adopting green initiatives as sustainable practices. The logistics industry contributes to enhancing the efficiency of the supply chain, boosting operational efficiency, offering better customer service and increasing revenue generation. There are many flaws in the operational activities of the supply chain in general and logistic activities, in particular, such as –

  • Use of energy sources on a large scale
  • Being entirely dependent on manual labour in all aspects of logistics
  • Immense amounts of waste generation
  • Mis-management of the waste produced, and 
  • Releasing the emitted toxicants directly into the air or water

The logistics challenges must be tackled and take necessary measures to establish sustainable logistics. This way, the environment and labourers working inside ports or a part of other logistic activities will also be relieved. Therefore, all companies and industries in the supply chain have accepted the call for green shipping and are turning towards green practices to establish sustainability in the logistics industry.

Goals of sustainable logistics

Since the impact of sustainable logistics on the environment is immense, all companies and businesses involved in the logistics industry must be focused towards the following goals-

  1. Knowing their emission rate– It is essential to understand and quantify the carbon footprints produced at every logistics step to minimise it. The supply chain emissions must be categorised into what aspects of logistics have maximum emissions and then work to control greenhouse emissions.
  2. Planning strategies and operations– Once the aspects rearing the environmental effects are apparent, planning must employ sustainable resources. Looking for alternative solutions and analysing their results is a part of strategising and planning.
  3. Fostering sustainability– Changing the operations in a single aspect of the supply chain won’t work. Instead, promoting sustainable practices and implementation in every step, from product design to transportation of goods, is necessary.

Tips to increase logistics sustainability 

  1. Switching to green energy– The logistics industry can utilise clean energy sources to enhance sustainability and reduce carbon emissions. The use of solar panels on the roofs of warehouses, biofuels to power vehicles, and alternative fuels to power containerships are a few best practices that can help minimise carbon footprints.
  2. Sustainable packaging– A significant amount of waste is generated from industrial packaging in the U.S. Recyclable and biodegradable packaging materials are eco-friendly and essential. A few examples of sustainable packaging materials are recyclable shredded paper and air pillows, packaging tapes made of paper, and corrugated bubble wraps. These are a few alternatives to plastic and other non-recyclable materials.
  3. Ground-based shipping– Shipping practises involving air have reported the highest carbon emission rates compared to road, rail or ocean shipping. These modes of shipping must be promoted by laying incentives such as free shipping or lower shipping rates.
  4. 4Rs– Business companies must encourage buyers to carefully break down, dispose of, or repurpose their packaging materials. The 4 R’s of sustainability, i.e., reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover, must be practised to improve the rate of waste generated and enhance waste management.

Ways to reduce the environmental impact of logistics

  1. Optimising shipping routes– Long shipping routes lead to more emissions that harm the environment. An optimised shipping route ensures that all traffic-laden courses are avoided by systematically distributing sea vessels over selected routes to enable seamless and faster shipping.
  2. Reduce empty miles– Sometimes, vessels run empty on routes to travel to their pickup location. It emits the same amount of greenhouse gases and gets summed up to a large amount considering long-distance routes. By reducing empty sailings, ships can minimise carbon emissions into the environment.
  3. Integration of technology– The inclusion of autonomous shipping in maritime is leading to a reduction in environmental damage as more cargo can be transported with lesser emissions. IoT in shipping helps alert the authorities in case of any fluctuations during the voyage to help make data-driven decisions. This can help in avoiding maritime accidents caused due to container spills or vessel damages.
  4. Enhanced warehouse network– When the shipment fails to deliver, the products are bound for reverse logistics. The cargo ships filled with return shipments cause significant losses to the supply chain and environment. 

These are a few impact of sustainable logistics paired with these few ways to reduce their environmental impact.

LOTUS Containers is a robust provider of shipping container solutions across the globe. We are connected with more than 300 container depots to offer shipping container services to our clients.

Weekly stock report

What we have in stock:

Our news

Always up to date


Good contacts for your business. Network now.