Green Logistics

Logistics goes green!

Who acts, is better prepared: a thought which currently motivates many actors to identify the environmentally relevant areas within the company, and to realize suitable improvement measures. Today, more than 5.5 percent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide are caused by logistics alone. Accordingly logistics can make a valuable contribution to achieve the climate protection goals of the Federal Government. However, before emissions reduction measures and “Green Logistics” products as well as services can be derived and implemented, emissions of present logistics systems are to be uniformly determined, and emission driving processes have to be identified.

In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, however, there are also other environmental impacts in the logistics sector, as for example noise or particulate emissions, some important parameters, in order to develop logistics systems more environmentally suitable – and therefore – more green.

Green logistics is therefore placed over environmental compatibility and resource efficiency, namely for the whole logistics chain, i.e. for transport, intralogistics and logistics real estate. Studies show that conveying, warehousing and order-picking processes make up to 25% of the energy consumption caused by logistics. With the other 75%, however, the large part of the energy consumption and the thereby emitted greenhouse gases is with it, in the transport sector.

Four optimization areas for Green Logistics

The different approaches, in realizing eco-friendly and resource-efficient logistics systems can be subdivided into four areas: Transport, logistics real estate, intralogistics as well as planning and strategy.

  1. In the area of transport, greenhouse gas emissions can be saved, for example, by rising transport efficiency, reduced transport amount, route optimization, the deflection of transport to more eco-friendly transport carriers or the use of more energy-efficient vehicles or driver trainings. The latter aim at a more economic way of driving and with it, allow a reduction in the fuel consumption of 8 to 10 percent
  2. In the area of logistics real estate the focus is on, e.g., energy-efficient lighting, heating and ventilation technology, use of daylight or renewable energies, the application of motion detectors or heat insulation.
  3. The approaches in intralogistics again aim at the avoidance of fuel consumption when no-load by defined energy modes or a more efficient conveyor technology, the latter allows an energy saving of more than 30%. Other optimization potentials exist with product packaging through the latest master data and with it of an exact packaging forecast.
  4. Finally, logistics planning and logistics strategy encloses the eco-efficient fleet and container management, along with route, network and location planning in consideration of ecological criteria, however, also co-operative transports, the deceleration of delivery chains and transports as well as innovative supply concepts and inventory management.


Practice-oriented approaches

In practice there exists a wide range of further approaches and already realized savings. At first it is common to all concepts to identify the own emission drivers (e.g., in terms of balancing (e.g. Carbon Footprint) or specific measuring and monitoring), and afterwards to derive and implement corresponding company-specific emissions reduction measures. Besides, emissions can be avoided on the one hand, for example by process optimization, intelligent control and employee trainings, the resource consumption can be reduced and/or alternative energy sources utilized. On the other hand, emissions can be decreased by means of more efficient technology and products. Regular (e.g., annual) balancing and measuring of own emissions shows the effect of the implemented reduction measures. Finally, the compensation serves to equate the responsible greenhouse gas emissions with eco-friendly projects and measures, which save the respective emission quantity in other areas.

Research status

These topics are subject of the collaborative project »Green Logistics« started in June, 2010. Within the scope of the collaborative project »Green Logistics« (bmbf-FKZ: 01IC10L06) follows the development of eco-efficient logistics products and services. The objective of the collaborative project is to determine the ecological impacts of logistics processes and systems for the first time, source-specific and standardized, for the three areas logistics real estate, intralogistics and transport. Consequently the whole logistics chain is considered. The methods and instruments to be (further) developed for this are transferred into a certification system for logistics service providers. Additionally, an international standards committee is initiated and an exemplary assessment tool is realized. With it the environmental impacts of logistics systems and processes can be determined and the most eco-efficient solutions identified. Additional information on the project is provided under (German website).