Ecological imbalances and growing demand from customers and governments for sustainable solutions have cultivated an urgent need for environment-friendly practices in supply chains, from raw material extraction to managing product end of life. Together with optimized processes, zero-emission mobility, and carbon offset solutions for facilities, this momentum will help the logistics industry go green.
Key Developments & Implications
A 2020 report by the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2030 the growth of e-commerce alone will result in 36% more delivery vehicles, generating an additional 32% of carbon emissions. Currently the equivalent of a full truckload of plastic, from product parts to packaging, enters the ocean every minute, quadrupling by 2050 if no action is taken. With these predictions, companies, governments, and customers are all taking steps to eliminate the environmental harm of business as usual.
Process optimization has received more focus in the last two years as a cost-effective way to improve sustainability within the logistics industry. Similarly, optimization can reduce environmental impact in other processes including inventory, back-office paperwork, and packaging. It is estimated that on average a box is 40% too big for its contents (see Smart Packaging). Eliminating just this excess volume would save enormous amounts of packaging material, diesel, and landfill space.
Zero-emission logistics fleets are considered to be one of the most impactful solutions in the fight against climate change, given that the transportation sector is often the biggest or second biggest producer of greenhouse gases.
This past year, DHL and other logistics providers have all announced plans with automotive suppliers to collectively add hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles to roads in the coming years, citing various benefits from lower operational costs to successfully meeting local emission standards. Also, as better batteries and fuel cells enabled the viability of zero-emission vehicles, increased demand for zero-emission vehicles has consequently spurred interest in more efficient batteries and fuel cells.
Logistics facility design and placement can hugely impact the environment, with buildings using 41% of total energy in the United States, 12% more than transportation. With large warehouses, service facilities, and offices dominating the logistics industry, many companies have begun adopting sustainable building materials, better insulation, and IoT devices to optimally manage utilities, lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and machinery. This improves sustainability while reducing operational costs.
Talk to an Expert
Innovation Project Manager
DHL Innovation Center, Troisdorf
Jordan Toy is an Innovation Project Manager. He merges his technical background with his passions for sustainability and human-centered design to drive projects from ideas to real-world pilots within logistics operations. His interests are multifaceted and span from robotics to quantum computing and from green energy to the future of work.
Jordan has over 6 years of experience in the logistics, transportation and civil engineering industries. He is based in the DHL Innovation Center in Troisdorf, Germany.