Net Zero: Sustainable Solutions in Logistics

Grace Reddish

Driving the change.

Logistics is arguably the backbone of global trade, facilitating the seamless movement of goods around the world.

The vital role logistics plays means that it is a constant for many businesses. But this reliance has led to the transport and logistics sector being the second-highest carbon-emitting sector in the world.

As the world pivots towards a more sustainable future, the need for more sustainable activities is taking precedence, with the concept of being Net Zero becoming a crucial goal within the corporate world. 

As a freight forwarder, we have the opportunity to help our customers, suppliers, and partners to increase their knowledge in this area and even support a reduction of emissions.

That’s what led to the creation of our Sustainable Freight Network. Passionate about driving change in our industry, it’s our ambition to innovate by collaborating with organisations, academics and thought leaders to find a path to more sustainable practices.

We caught up with Richard, who makes up part of the team of our Sustainable Freight Network about his insights on some hot topics affecting sustainability and logistics.

Optimising supply chain efficiency

R – One of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions in logistics is by optimising the supply chain. This involves a strategic approach to route planning, load optimisation, and inventory management. Using advanced analytics and real-time data, companies can minimise empty miles, reduce fuel consumption, and ensure that transportation routes are as direct and efficient as possible, which not only lower emissions but also lead to cost savings and better service levels.

Electrification of transport

R – The shift from traditional diesel-powered vehicles to electric and hybrid alternatives is a game-changer for the logistics sector. Electric vehicles (EVs) produce zero tailpipe emissions, making them a sustainable choice for reducing a businesses carbon footprint. Companies are increasingly investing in electric trucks, vans, and even drones, which are particularly effective for last-mile deliveries in urban areas. While the initial investment is significant, the long-term environmental and economic benefits are substantial.

Alternative fuels

R – In addition to electrification, alternative fuels like biofuels, hydrogen, and natural gas offer promising pathways to becoming Net Zero. Whilst electric vehicles are reducing in price and are a lot more accessible, their ability to travel long distances, with unpredictable routes and strict driving-time regulations, is a much bigger challenge.

Hydrogen-powered fuel is proving to be the more desirable option, with faster refueling capabilities, a greater range and lower weight than electric vehicles. Hydrogen can be produced through both fossil and renewable sources. Blue hydrogen is derived from natural gas, while green hydrogen is generated through renewable means. However, there are currently limitations for the refueling infrastructure needed to support the demand of producing and distributing green hydrogen at a scale, creating high costs and commitment.

HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil): HVO offers a renewable alternative to fossil fuels, derived from sources like vegetable oils or animal fats, producing carbon savings of up to 94%. The benefit of this fuel is that it is compatible with most current fuel structures, meaning it can be used as a direct replacement for diesel engines. However, its availability depends on the production and processing of these feedstocks, creating a spike in prices that are not affordable for most companies.

Adopting sustainable warehousing practices

R – Warehousing is another critical component of the logistics chain that can impact being Net Zero. Sustainable warehousing practices include the use of renewable energy sources such as solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, and climate control systems. Additionally, incorporating sustainable building materials and designs can further lower the environmental impact. By adopting these practices, warehouses can reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.

The logistics sector must lead the way with its dedication to innovation within sustainability.

The journey towards Net Zero in logistics is an ongoing process, and requires a multi-faceted approach. From alternative fuels to route optimisation, there are numerous ways your business can have a positive impact and make substantial progress towards a sustainable future.

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