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2024 environmental sustainability trends in logistics

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New Zealand has been one of the countries at the forefront of integrating environmental sustainability in trade practices. As per the Center for Strategic & International Studies, the country is currently taking an all-government approach to sustainability, enacting policies focusing on carbon footprint reduction. 

One of the country’s initiatives is freight transport decarbonisation, as 93% of the freight is roadbound and 99% fossil-fuel dependent. With various climate change agencies stating that transportation will contribute to approximately 60% of global emissions by 2050, the logistics industry has a responsibility to reduce their carbon emissions.

In response, New Zealand's logistics and supply chain sector is pivoting towards innovative, eco-friendly strategies for reducing carbon footprints. These strategies are not just about meeting regulatory requirements or achieving environmental targets; they're about setting a new standard in sustainable logistics, ensuring that the industry contributes positively to the country's green aspirations. Here are some of the latest sustainability strategies that are on trend with logistics businesses:

1. Growing focus on carbon accountability

For carbon accountability in logistics, the pivotal sustainable strategies that businesses implement are carbon insetting and offsetting. 

Carbon insetting

Carbon insetting involves actions taken within a company's supply chain to directly reduce carbon emissions. This can include investing in more efficient transportation methods, adopting non-fossil fuel energy sources, or improving operational efficiencies to lower the carbon footprint of logistics activities. By focusing on insetting, logistics companies contribute to environmental sustainability and often realise significant cost savings and operational improvements. This approach allows businesses to take proactive control over their emissions, enhancing their sustainability credentials and reducing their environmental impact from within.

Carbon offsetting

On the other hand, carbon offsetting complements insetting by addressing emissions that cannot be eliminated through internal changes. It involves investing in external environmental projects that compensate for the carbon footprint of logistics operations, such as reforestation projects, renewable energy initiatives, or community-based sustainability programmes. This strategy allows logistics companies to balance their remaining emissions by contributing to efforts that absorb or minimise an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. Carbon offsetting helps companies achieve carbon neutrality and supports global efforts to combat climate change, providing a means for businesses to take responsibility for their environmental impact beyond their immediate operations. 

Together, insetting and offsetting offer a comprehensive approach to carbon accountability in logistics, enabling companies to significantly reduce their ecological footprint while contributing positively to the planet's well-being.

2. Supply chains facing radical transparency

In today's environmentally conscious market, the call for transparency within supply chains is louder than ever. Consumers and businesses alike demand visibility into the sustainability practices of their logistics partners. Companies that provide this transparency build trust and enhance their brand reputation in the competitive New Zealand market.

With this, innovative technologies and strategies are at the forefront of measuring carbon emissions in logistics operations for full transparency to consumers and clients. DHL Express NZ, for instance, stands out with its comprehensive carbon monitoring and supply chain transparency solutions. Tools like the DHL Carbon Report and DHL Carbon Dashboard empower businesses with critical insights into the environmental impact of their logistics and transportation activities. That way, companies establish sustainable targets and implement effective improvements that ensure eco-friendly operations.

3. Circular business models in logistics

Transitioning from the conventional linear approach, the logistics sector is now adopting circular economy business models. These innovative models prioritise the reuse and recycling of materials, thereby significantly reducing waste and enhancing sustainability across the supply chain. The shift towards circularity represents a strategic step in logistics, aiming to create a more sustainable and efficient flow of resources.

The adoption of circular business models brings with it not only a reduction in environmental impact but also substantial economic advantages. By extending the life cycle of resources, companies can achieve cost savings and foster more sustainable operational practices. Pioneers in the logistics industry have already begun to reap the benefits of circular business models. Examples of integrating the circular business model into your logistics strategy include encouraging customers to use reusable packaging and initiating recycling programmes. These efforts contribute to environmental preservation and set new standards for sustainability within the logistics field.

4. Integrating sustainability in logistics operations

To integrate sustainable practices into one’s logistics operations, companies should thoroughly review their practices to identify areas where sustainable alternatives can be implemented. This may include considering the use of biodegradable packaging, optimising route planning to reduce fuel consumption, and enhancing warehouse operations to minimise energy usage. The goal is to create a system that promotes economic efficiency and environmental stewardship, ensuring that logistics operations contribute positively to both the planet and the bottom line.

To achieve this, using the latest technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT), can help companies track, manage, and optimise their operations for sustainability. AI and machine learning algorithms can predict the most efficient routes, reducing miles driven and emissions produced. On the other hand, blockchain technology offers unparalleled transparency in the supply chain, ensuring ethical and environmentally friendly sourcing. 

However, while the transition to sustainable logistics has its advantages, it also comes with its challenges. This includes having to pay the initial cost of adopting new technologies while also dealing with the complexity of altering established supply chains. Solutions to these challenges include forming strategic partnerships for shared sustainability goals and investing in employee training to foster a culture of innovation. 

By addressing these hurdles head-on, logistics companies can successfully navigate the transition to more sustainable operations, setting a benchmark for the industry and contributing to a more sustainable future.

For sustainable international shipping services, choose DHL Express 

DHL Express NZ is your reliable partner for sustainable international shipping, ensuring efficiency with eco-friendly operations. For businesses in New Zealand needing reliable and green delivery services, DHL Express is your go-to provider. We're not just following the sustainability trends of 2024; we're pioneering them. Our commitment to reducing carbon footprints ensures that your shipments are not only fast but also environmentally responsible. Open a business account with us today for international deliveries that prioritise sustainability.

For more of the latest logistics trends in 2024, check out New Zealand’s current major exports and what to expect from digital logistics.