Strategies for a more sustainable supply chain
Supply chain logistics contribute massively to greenhouse gas emissions. With many businesses in
the UK still relying on conventional vehicles to deliver their products, carbon footprints only grow
with freight distributed across the country and into Europe.
The government is aware of the problem. In June 2023, £80million in funding was awarded to businesses
across the UK to help then cut their carbon emissions, part of a billion-pound drive to
support the use of clean technologies across the economy.
Whether you're starting a new business soon or re-evaluating your own logistics strategy, it's always
worth knowing a few of the ways ideas to make your supply chain more eco-friendly.
What’s the environmental impact of traditional logistics?
According to the Energy Saving Trust, about 18% of all carbon emissions in the UK originate from
commercial activity. Larger businesses have improved their output already, but some of the most
innovative clean technologies are not immediately accessible for start ups and SMEs.
Mass manufacturing plays a huge role in our commercial carbon footprint, but the transport and
logistics sector still requires improvements. Some of the adverse environmental effects associated
with vehicles used in conventional logistics include:
Greenhouse gas emissions: Diesel and petrol vehicles emit greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. These not only have a
detrimental effect on natural environments but contribute to climate change too.
Increased pollution: In addition to gases, vehicles emit particulate matter and volatile
organic compounds. These pollute the air and can eventually reach water networks too,
posing a threat to human health, ecosystems, and wildlife.
The need for emissions-free vehicles is more urgent than ever before. With collaborative efforts,
businesses must combat environmental challenges and reduce the impact of their supply chain
How can businesses implement sustainable fleet management?
Green vehicle technologies in logistics will make your entire operation more sustainable. A few of
the most cutting-edge additions could include:
Efficient route planning: Make sure your drivers don’t waste time and fuel crossing their
tracks. Plan logical, time-efficient routes to get more deliveries done through the day.
Same-day delivery: It’s common knowledge that working with a same-day courier promises
enormous benefits for your company and customers too.
Collaborative logistics: Sharing information, resources and responsibilities with a local
competitor could benefit both of your businesses and reduce emissions too.
Load consolidation: Shipping across the country? Waiting for more orders to a specific
location, and sending them together, will help you save on resources.
How can warehousing and packaging become more sustainable?
Energy saving practises within warehouses could help entire industries to reduce their overall carbon
footprint. Fleet management is a strong starting point, but other aspects of logistics, including
warehouse practices, should also be considered.
Energy consumption: Logistics relies on ambient warehousing. Through lighting and heating,
these spaces use immense amounts of power every day. Businesses must consider practical
changes, like automatic sensors to ensure that lighting is only used as required.
Waste generation: Packaging, customer returns, and overproduction are just a few of the
issues that contribute to unacceptable waste production in modern supply chains. To reduce
waste long-term, order fulfilment needs to happen first time.
Recyclable packaging: Materials matter when it comes to packaging strategies in logistics.
Using recyclable materials over single-use plastics is not only better for the planet but could
attract positive customer feedback too, since many consumers prefer a sustainable choice.
Fleet management and efficient warehousing will define a more sustainable future in logistics. No
matter the size of your business, it’s important to note these key strategies and see if you can
implement any to start reducing your corporate carbon footprint today.