In the news, we hear about logistics, but what does the word really mean? According to the dictionary, logistics is defined as the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities or supplies. Logistics is the way businesses over time have gotten their products from creation to market and then to the consumer. Environmentally friendly logistics is improving this process in a way that is kinder to the planet while conserving energy and raw materials.


John Haber, founder and CEO of Spend Management Experts and executive vice-president of supply chain at NPI in Atlanta, stresses that there are several things every company can do to add some green to their logistics program. Here are the top three:


  1. Environmentally sustainable purchasing: In many cases this is the easiest and quickest practice an organization can implement, with a goal of developing a green supply chain. It can be fairly easy in that it does not require internal operational changes. It requires changes in policies and in the evaluation and measurement of suppliers. It can be accomplished quickly from the standpoint that companies are faced with purchasing decisions on a daily basis. Evaluating which suppliers have made green initiatives a priority is as easy as mandating that suppliers answer specific questions about their sustainability policies.
  2. Turn to alternative fuels: The use of hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels, such as Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) can drastically reduce your carbon footprint while improving your organization’s “green” supply chain. Closely look at how your suppliers and customers manage their fuel usage as well – even if you can’t directly impact your usage internally, you can still make an impact by making it part of your decision making process.
  3. Examine your energy usage: This is another area in which quick modifications can be made and can result in immediate results. Companies waste a tremendous amount of energy and can significantly improve profits by implementing energy usage policies. From items as simple as turning out the lights and idling PC’s to more complex energy changes such as moving to more solar energy, these improvements are sustainable and go a long way to improving your company’s green standing.

In addition to the above tips, Haber believes it is critical for businesses to have environmentally friendly practices and especially sustainable supply chains, and in the long run, these aspects may improve profits.


“Public pressures are mounting for organizations to manage supply chain sustainability wisely from a social standpoint – the days of dumping wastes improperly and lack of comprehensive recycling policies can lead to success or failure,” he says. “Companies are paying close attention to the policies of their suppliers and customers. It can lead to the difference in making a sale or losing a sale.”


Have other thoughts on environmentally friendly logistics? Leave us a note in the comments below.


See also:

Sustainable logistics