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Breaking the link between ‘economic goods’ and ‘environmental bads’

It’s time to take action – to reshape your business into a model of sustainability others will follow. Here’s how you can dive deep into decarbonization and bend today’s linear model into a sustainable circle.

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Decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions

Despite a brief downturn in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have continued to rise and the Earth’s average surface temperature along with it. In 2022, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research published a sobering study showing that the world is already at risk of passing five dangerous climate tipping points. Once we pass them, there’s no turning back – the change becomes self-sustaining. Even if global warming stops.

We must turn the tide, and here’s the good news: we have a blueprint for a brighter future – we just need to get busy building that future! All organizations, whether public or private, can join in and tip the balance. How? By decarbonizing and going circular.

This is about decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions – breaking the link between ‘economic goods’ and ‘environmental bads’.  Read on to find out how.

Supply chains play a significant role

About  are generated in the supply chain, which is the source of some 60% of all carbon emissions globally. That’s not all transport and logistics, of course. Supply chains include sourcing, manufacturing, storing, and selling. Still, it’s likely that some two-thirds of your Scope 3 emissions – the indirect emissions generated during upstream and downstream activities. That means no industry can reach net zero without sustainable supply chains.  

The same goes for the transition to a circular economy. The world consumes 100+ billion metric tons of material annually, but only 8.5% is recycled into the economy. Today’s linear supply chain must be bent into a sustainable loop. Your business can help lead the way.

Scope 3 is key


of corporate emissions are Scope 3


of Scope 3 emissions are in the supply chain

Four milestones on the road to decarbonization

Today’s technologies do not yet provide us with the tools to cut all emissions, but here are four essential steps you can take now to take a sizeable chunk out of your carbon footprint.

1. Know your business

Decarbonization starts with a clear outline of your carbon footprint, concrete reduction targets, and a committed budget. So begin by developing a sustainability strategy to address the key issues and make it an integral part of your overall business strategy.

2. Optimize your supply chain

Every business strives to operate efficiently, but perfecting a supply chain is a daunting task. There are multiple options, such as network, mode, route and load optimization. Download this report to learn more.

3. Switch to sustainable fuels

Until recently, it was only possible to send carbon-neutral shipments through offsetting. Now the supply of sustainable fuels is on the rise, and ‘book and claim’ systems can help you invest in sustainable fuels (‘insetting’) and ship 100% carbon neutral without changing your supply chain setup.

4. Adopt the latest technology

Retrofit your facilities with more sustainable technologies like efficient lighting, climate controls, and solar power. And make carbon neutrality a requirement for all new building projects. Then be sure to adopt the latest green innovations as they become available.

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From linear to circular: bending today for a better tomorrow

Today’s linear economy (take-make-waste) is destroying the very resources it needs to survive. In addition to decarbonization, the environmental crisis we face today demands a new economic model – a circular system.

It’s revolutionary, but it can be done. Consider this: Recycling was unheard of not long ago, but many children today couldn’t imagine not separating trash. That progress was driven by environmentally conscious consumers, corporations, and governments. Together we can once again bend business norms for a better tomorrow.

The three principles of the circular economy

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is based on three principles:

  1. Eliminate waste and pollution
    Waste is seen as a design flaw and engineered it out by requiring that all materials re-enter the economy at the end of their use.
  2. Circulate products and materials
    Materials are kept permanently in use, whether as products or, when that is no longer possible, as components or raw materials.
  3. Regenerate nature
    Taking cues from the environment, which has regenerated itself for billions of years, business practices support biological processes and allow Mother Nature to revive and thrive.

The principles in practice

What will it take to throw out our throwaway system? The following provides a small look at the unlimited possibilities:

  • Procurement plays an essential role
    Define procurement processes designed to minimize your carbon footprint, reduce waste, and optimize commercial benefits.
  • Sustainability by design
    Reduce complexity and material use and switch to recycled materials can reduce your costs and carbon footprint.
  • Green packaging
    Increase resource efficiency, minimize material consumption, and maximize carbon impact.
  • Circular logistics
    Also known as reverse logistics, this is the process of returning goods up the supply chain to recapture value (reuse, recycling, etc.).

The road ahead is a roundabout

The challenges we face may seem daunting, but they are not insurmountable. And the opportunities are indisputable. By leaving the linear path of the past behind, the potential to tackle climate change and other global issues becomes greater than ever.

Bending the current model will not break our ability to grow and prosper. Instead, it will build resilience, create jobs, and safeguard our prosperity. When we see the road ahead as a roundabout, we recognize that a decarbonized, circular economy is the future of business and the business of the future.

We are entering the Era of Sustainable Logistics – won’t you join us?

Learn more about how together we can make supply chains cleaner and greener

Published: August 2023

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