#LogisticsAdvice

What is Green Logistics and how can it transform your business?

Leendert van Delft
Leendert van Delft
3 min read
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This article covers
The benefits of green logistics
Sustainable logistics strategies your business can adopt
How DHL can help

Green logistics strategies can help your business lower its emissions, reduce waste, and attract more customers. Here’s where to begin.

What is green logistics?

Logistics covers procurement, inventory management, distribution, warehousing, transportation, packaging and risk management. Green logistics (or “sustainable logistics”) is the business practice of reducing the environmental impact of these processes. Examples of green logistics strategies an e-commerce business might adopt include using electric vehicles for last-mile deliveries, and switching to sustainable packaging.

Benefits of green logistics to your business

Lower emissions

Green logistics emphasizes the use of alternative fuels, electric vehicles, and optimized transportation routes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also promotes energy efficiency across the logistics network, such as implementing energy management systems (EMS) within warehouses. Together, these steps help businesses reduce their overall carbon footprint

 

two DHL employees looking at solar panels

 Enhance your brand reputation

Sustainability is now a key influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions. In DHL’s 2023 Global Online Shopper Survey, over 70% of respondents said that sustainability is important to them when they shop online, whilst almost half would be prepared to wait longer for their goods if it would help the environment.

Your current and prospective customers are now expecting eco-friendly logistics practices from your business. Offering sustainable packaging – though a nice touch – is not solely enough anymore. Your business should be considering a full and thorough green logistics strategy. Fortunately, you’re reading the right article!

 

woman holding a mobile phone

Reduce costs

Green logistics focuses on fuel efficiency and reducing waste – both of which impact a business’s bottom line. A report by McKinsey & Co1 found that reducing material waste through zero and low-waste policies can help businesses to improve their operating profits by as much as 60%.

Some strategies may require upfront investment – such as installing eco-friendly solar panels – but the savings they generate later on make them worthwhile. 

Green logistics strategies to adopt

So, which green logistics strategies should your business consider to improve its carbon footprint, efficiencies, and profitability? These are a few to consider.

Think circular

You send products out to customers. Inevitably, some will be sent back (unfortunately, e-commerce and returns go hand in hand.) Then what? You have more options than just resale or disposal. The circular economy model promotes the idea of sharing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling products and materials for as long as possible, to reduce waste.

Implementing a reverse logistics strategy will help your business move towards a circular economy model and meet its sustainability targets, whilst your customers will have more choice over how their returns are managed.

 

woman placing parcel in parcel locker

Collaborate with your suppliers

From your products’ materials to their packaging, it’s likely there are opportunities to switch to greener versions. Speaking with your suppliers will enable you to explore options, such as sustainable materials or biodegradable packaging.

Research from McKinsey found products that made one or more ESG-related claims on their packaging outperformed products that made none2. Just be wary of “greenwashing” – all your claims must be authentic if they are to resonate with customers.

 

two DHL vans parked in a parking lot

Adopt green transportation

The logistics and transport sector now contributes just over a third of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions3 – a share that’s forecast to grow. But there are steps your business can take to help reduce the impact:

Optimize space. Pack your products smartly into correctly-sized boxes – this will allow you to group packages into fewer vehicles.

Integrate route planning software. Enabled by AI, this technology will find the optimal routes for your deliveries based on real-time traffic analysis. It means you can do multiple deliveries in the quickest, most efficient order. 

Choose a green logistics partner. If you outsource your logistics to a third party, choose one with green credentials. DHL Express, for example, has launched GoGreen Plus, a solution which helps businesses reduce the carbon emissions associated with their shipments through the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Offer On-Demand Delivery. Failed deliveries are a huge contributor to your business’s carbon footprint; every unsuccessful attempt clocks up more vehicle emissions (and costs!) But with On-Demand Delivery, you can reduce your failed delivery rate. ODD allows customers to choose exactly when and where their products are delivered. They can have their goods left with a neighbor, in a parcel locker, or sent to an alternate address (such as their workplace) if they know they aren’t going to be at home. Not only will offering ODD improve your first-time delivery rate, but your customers also enjoy a more convenient service, which builds loyalty to your brand. Win win!

Green Logistics FAQs

Green logistics (or “sustainable logistics”) is the business practice of reducing the environmental impact of the logistics network. Examples of green logistics strategies an e-commerce business might adopt include switching to sustainable packaging, and using route planning software to maximize fuel efficiency.

Green logistics offers numerous benefits for businesses, including:

  • Lower emissions: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future.

  • Enhanced brand reputation: Consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on a business’s environmental policies.

  • Reduced costs: Green logistics prioritizes reducing waste and inefficiencies – both of which impact a business’s bottom line.

Several strategies can be implemented to achieve green logistics:

  • Think circular: Adopt a circular economy approach by promoting product reuse, repair, and recycling.

  • Collaborate with suppliers: Work with suppliers to explore sustainable materials and packaging options.

  • Adopt green transportation: Optimize routes, use electric vehicles, and choose green logistics partners.

  • Offer On-Demand Delivery: Reduce failed deliveries and associated emissions by offering flexible delivery options.

  • Switch to sustainable packaging: Use recyclable and biodegradable packaging materials.

  • Carry out an audit of your current logistics practices: Identify areas where energy, materials and other resources are being wasted.  

  • Set targets: Sustainable logistics goals will help your business stay on track. You can start small – something as simple as committing to turn off lights when not in use can make a difference.

  • Get your employees on board: Green logistics is a team effort!

  • Partner with a green logistics provider: DHL Express’ GoGreen Plus is a dedicated solution to help businesses reduce the carbon emissions associated with their shipments through the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

  • Check out DHL’s Green Logistics Toolkit for even more tips and strategies to help your business go green!

How DHL can help

DHL has committed to reduce its logistics-related emissions to net-zero by the year 2050. As such, it has invested heavily in sustainable final-mile solutions, from electric vehicles to GoGreen Plus.

With a DHL Express Business Account, you can choose a greener path. Happy planet, happy customers, happy bottom line!