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Sustainable Logistics: Delivering a Greener Future.

by Andrew Fanner,
Apr 27, 2023
Freight Collect
Freight Collect

Table of Contents:

From the Outback to the ocean, Australian logistics companies are using technology to tackle the challenges of climate change and sustainability successfully. 

As the impact of climate change and environmental degradation becomes more apparent, sustainability is now an important focus for logistics companies across Australia. And as their customers become more environmentally aware, there is an increasing demand for companies involved in logistics, supply chains and deliveries to ensure that their operations are sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Technology is playing a key role in this transition to greener methods of delivering goods and freight across Australia. So if you are searching for ways to make your delivery company operate in a greener, more efficient manner, we have a few ideas for you to consider.

Emitting and Consuming Less.

In Australia, the emissions produced by the transport industry account for around 18% of the country’s greenhouse gases. A significant portion of these emissions is created by the logistics industry.

Of course, moving goods, freight, services, and documents around our cities, towns, and countryside is a vital part of Australia’s economy. So finding ways to reduce emissions while still keeping the wheels turning is a challenge…but not an impossible one.

Power to the people

Have a look around next time you are out on the road. You’ll notice that hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming more and more common. As the technology around EVs and hybrids continues to improve, these vehicles are becoming increasingly viable for short- and medium-length delivery runs.

Electric vehicles contribute significantly fewer emissions to the atmosphere than traditional petrol or diesel trucks and vans. They also have the additional benefit of being quieter and extremely responsive to drive. An EV van can take off at the lights faster than a sprinting emu and leave the diesel burners behind like a bunch of plodding wombats!

Cool runnings

Biofuels are another technology that is playing a role in reducing emissions and saving fossil fuels. Many shipping companies, for example, are now adding vessels that run partially on biofuels or methane. With around 30% of the world’s greenhouse gases emitted by shipping, the move towards more sustainable fuels is part of a growing trend in the shipping industry. 

Biofuels in aviation are another area where technologies are taking flight. In a 2019 article published by IEA, the International Energy Agency, aviation is expected to account for 3.5% of global energy-related emissions by 2030. According to the article, “The aviation industry has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 50% from their 2005 level by 2050. Blending lower carbon SAF [Sustainable Aviation Fuel] with fossil jet fuel will be essential to meeting this goal. This is reflected in the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), which anticipates biofuels reaching around 10% of aviation fuel demand by 2030, and close to 20% by 2040.”

The energy-efficient warehouse 

Many Logistics companies are now also taking steps to reduce the energy consumed and improve the efficiency of the operations of their warehouse premises. For example, logistics companies are investing in efficient lighting and heating systems and implementing energy management systems which can monitor and reduce their energy use. In addition to this, an increasing number of companies are using automation and data analytics to optimize their operations, which also reduces energy consumption and improves efficiency.

Circular Supply Chains

Circular supply chains are a relatively new concept in the Australian logistics industry but are becoming increasingly popular as companies seek to reduce their environmental impact. 

A circular supply chain is a closed-loop system where resources and materials are continuously reused or recycled, rather than discarded. This approach can significantly reduce waste and emissions, and can also help companies save money on resources and materials.

Packaging the future

An enormous amount of packaging is used in Australian supply chains. From wooden pallets to those little inflated plastic pillows, packaging plays a vital role in the logistics system. But while wooden packaging and cardboard can be recycled, reused or composted, plastic is a different story.

Let’s face it, plastic is NOT fantastic! According to statistics published by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), Australians used 3.4 million tonnes of plastics in 2018-2019. A large proportion of this was used in packaging, and only 13% is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills. 

So if your operation is able to cut down on plastic waste by such methods as freight consolidation, your customers (and the planet) will appreciate it. 

Paper and cardboard

On average, Australians consume 230 kg of paper and cardboard each year. The enormous growth in e-commerce — and the associated delivery infrastructure — has resulted in a massive increase in the amount of paper and cardboard used in packaging. There is an emissions cost to paper and cardboard production, with an average emission of 1.6 tons of greenhouse gases (predominantly nitrous nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide) per tonne of paper produced. 

Paper and cardboard products that are not recycled end up in landfills and release methane as they decompose. Reducing the amount of paper and cardboard that is used in the logistics industry is therefore vital in reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that the logistics industry produces. 

Control Your Operation Using Software.

The days of fax machine, paper trails, telephone calls and signed dockets are gone. These days, everything in an efficient logistics business can be controlled and overseen electronically. This not only gives business owners more oversight into how their logistics are working. It also provides opportunities to reduce waste, set up and operate more efficient delivery routes, and keep wastage to a minimum. 

For example, software can be used to implement more sustainable practices in the following areas of the supply chain: 

  • Transport management systems. Software that can oversee and monitor the movement of your vehicles is an important factor in reducing the greenhouse emissions of your fleet. By saving time and fuel, fleet management and route optimisation software can significantly improve the efficiency of your delivery network.  
  • Warehouse Management Systems. Being able to easily store consignments in the correct part of a warehouse, and efficiently find these goods when required, means fewer movements within your warehouse by forklifts.  
  • Third Part Logistics. By helping companies fulfil their orders more efficiently and with fewer picking errors, a software system for 3PL operators can avoid expensive return journeys and ensure fewer trips by courier and freight vehicles.
  • Freight Consolidation Systems. Being able to match up consignments going to the same destination with different operators is a highly efficient way to lessen the number of vehicles on the road. Freight consolidation is a strategy that logistics software can easily implement and monitor.  

Come on… Keep it Green!

Sustainability is now an important issue in the Australian Logistics industry. Delivery companies increasingly recognize the importance of reducing their environmental footprint. By investing in new technologies and processes and working together with consumers and the government, the logistics industry can play a significant role in reducing the impact of climate change, and environmental degradation.

Of course, there are challenges associated with implementing sustainable practices within the logistics industry. One of the most significant of these is the cost of transitioning to new processes and technologies. But although the upfront costs can be significant, ultimately many sustainable solutions will save your company money. 

Do it for your customers 

Consumers are also becoming more conscientious about sustainability and the environmental impact of the things that they buy and have delivered to them. This means that companies that are able to prioritize sustainability can gain a competitive advantage over those that do not. Furthermore, consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for products that are sustainably sourced and delivered using logistics practices that are sustainable and green.

By reducing emissions, energy consumption and waste, logistics companies can play a significant role in reducing the impact of climate change. And the bottom line is that you can save money AND improve your reputation with your customers. That alone is worth going green.