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Sustainability in Logistics & Sustainable Practices

Global logistics advice · 5 min read

How to make your logistics sustainable this Christmas

How to make logistics more sustainable this Christmas

This holiday season, sustainability is in the spotlight, with eco-conscious customers increasingly favoring brands with a dedicated environmental policy.

For businesses, there are many benefits of implementing a sustainable logistics policy, most notably, reducing costs and boosting efficiencies. Here’s what to consider.  

What is sustainability in logistics?

Sustainable logistics refers to actionable practices aimed at improving the sustainability of supply chain activities. Objectives are not limited to a company’s environmental footprint, but also include economic and social sustainability: the Triple Bottom Line.

Examples of sustainable logistics practices include reducing carbon emissions, developing policies to protect labor rights, optimizing transport routes, and switching to electric vehicles. These examples are just a small snapshot of a larger picture, but the aim is always the same: to focus on and protect profit, people, and the planet.

What is the importance of sustainability in logistics?

These days, a sustainable logistics strategy is a necessity for any business that wants to build a positive reputation and attract customers: 4 out of 5 people describe themselves as likely to choose a brand with a positive approach to environmental sustainability1

There are big cost savings to be made too: on the journey to implementing sustainable logistics, businesses will review their supply chain operations, helping them to identify inefficiencies and redirect investment into more profitable areas.  

All of this, and a happier planet too!  

Sustainable logistics practices to implement

Consider packaging

Before we focus on logistics, let’s take a quick detour to your packaging. After all, over half of consumers (52%) in the UK and US said they want brands to create products with less packaging2. You may have even seen the “packaging shaming” trend on social media – customers posting pictures of their small deliveries arriving swamped in excessive and unnecessary boxes and layers of wrapping.

To stay shame free, explore plastic-free, sustainable packaging options. There are plenty of companies out there doing innovative things within the sector. Noissue3, for example, creates made-to-order, custom packaging, with every product 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable.

Calculate your emissions

You can only set yourself sustainability targets if you know where your business currently stands. Software solutions such as Planetly’s Climate Impact Manager4 platform will help you identify your biggest emission hotspots and compare them to your competitors. From there, you can begin to make changes; whether it’s reducing electricity usage in your offices and warehouses, or making the switch to renewable fuels. Get calculating!


According to Boston Consulting Group, transportation activities (aviation, rail, shipping, heavy and light trucking) account for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions5.

Partnering with a logistics provider with a world-leading sustainability commitment is a significant way businesses can reduce emissions across their supply chains. DHL has a mission to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and as such has set a target to electrify 60% of its last-mile delivery vehicles and grow sustainable fuel share in line-haul to >30% by 2030.

The company has invested in and partnered with Greenplan6 on route optimization technology. The solution uses smart algorithms to calculate delivery routes using daytime-dependent, road-specific travel times that reflect the actual situation that drivers face on the road, even in crowded cities. It means every kilometer is accounted for, which reduces carbon emissions and optimizes the driver’s time.  

Furthermore, in August 2021, the company made aviation history by ordering 12 fully electric Alice eCargo planes from aircraft manufacturer Eviation7. Who would have thought aviation could be so green?!

Carbon offsetting

It’s becoming increasingly popular for businesses to demonstrate their eco-credentials to customers through a carbon offsetting scheme. ClimatePartner8 is one such platform that helps businesses measure, reduce and offset their emissions. It has a portfolio of climate protection projects they can invest in to offset their emissions – from forest protection in Brazil to wind energy farms in South Africa.

Meanwhile, DHL Express has a GoGreen service – a carbon-neutral shipping option that helps customers calculate their transport-related emissions and then offset them through external climate protection projects. Those who use the service receive GoGreen stickers to place on their shipments – to show customers their participation – as well as an annual certificate stating the total amount of carbon dioxide they offset that year.

Missed deliveries

Multiple delivery attempts don't just lead to frustrated customers – they mean more carbon emissions for your business, too. A 2021 report from GBG found that 24% of UK businesses saw more than one in 10 orders fail to be delivered to customers at the first attempt9 , whilst globally, missed deliveries are costing businesses billions of dollars a year. 

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to reduce your missed delivery rate:

  • Give customers the option to choose a precise delivery timeslot so they can be sure they’ll be home.
  • Choose a logistics partner that offers online tracking services free of charge, so that your customers can monitor their shipments' status. 
  • Utilize parcel lockers and service points. Customers can pick up their deliveries at a time convenient to them, whilst a courier can deliver several parcels to a single destination at the same time, saving your business money and reducing transport emissions.
  • Ask customers where parcels can be left if they’re not home – with a neighbor or at a nominated safe space, for example.

To discover how DHL can help your business make its logistics more sustainable, open a DHL Business Account. You can begin your greener journey here.

1 - Recycling Lives, 2022

2 - Statista, published September 2021

3 - Noissue

4 - Planetly

5 - Boston Consulting Group, July 2020

6 - Greenplan

7 - Eviation

8 - ClimatePartner

9 - Retail Times, March 2021

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