SBS21: Streamlining your logistics emissions


This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham and Coventry and Warwickshire Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2021 Sustainable Business Series: Net Zero campaign.

The Sustainable Business Series: Net Zero is the Chamber’s first campaign on environmental sustainability, which aims to share best practice, guidance and knowledge to increase business progress to net zero. In 2021, this involves 5 free online webinars taking place from the end of September and throughout October along with publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content. The campaign will feature a Sustainability Summit on 3rd November

Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Aston University, Arup, Morgan Sindall and the University of Birmingham - all webinars and the Summit are free to attend. Interested parties can find out more and register to attend Sustainable Business Series: Net Zero events here, and the Sustainable Business Summit here.

Businesses of all sizes around the UK are constantly reminded of their responsibility to cut carbon emissions and protect the planet.

It’s important to remember that no matter the size of your business or the nature of industry your commitment to reducing carbon could make a real difference – to the planet, to your customers and to your running costs.

Now although achieving carbon neutrality via supply chains is hard at the moment, monitoring and managing supply chain carbon emissions is something that can still be achieved – to reduce we must be able to record, initially.

Below are a few practical tips businesses can implement to help monitor, manage and reduce their emissions in order to progress to net zero:

Record and Monitor

To commit to tackling carbon emissions, a good place to start is to actively monitor where and the amount of carbon your business currently emits. Although all processes emit carbon to varying degrees, I have detailed some examples of processes below

some may not apply directly to your business but on average these stats represent a majority of small to medium businesses.

Review Processes

Operational cost savings, greater resilience and an improved reputation amongst your customer base and supply chain are some benefits to be found from net zero businesses. With operational functions defined by processes, it might be useful to analyse processes with methods and equipment to define emissions in relation to the supply chain for example:

  • Dispatching orders: businesses may feel priced out of electrical vehicle options, however reviewing consignment could be another progression to neutrality. It is estimated that sending 500 2kg parcels a year could contribute to 1 tonne of emitted carbon a year – aggregating consignments could be another process to implement.

Other Practical Tips

The changes for other businesses may not be applicable to yours, however committing to change can come in many ways, here are some more tips to manage and reduce your carbon emissions:

  • Monthly mileage reports on completed consignments
  • Look to utilise ‘Groupage & Back Loads’ more often
  • Implementation of re-usable packaging or more efficient packaging
  • Conducting an in-depth analysis of logistics plans, with help of partners and participation from customers, you can reduce transport needs

Reducing carbon emissions for a business that transports goods seems a daunting task, however here are some useful pieces of information that can be adopted to aid in becoming net zero.

  • Look to other modes of transport when fulfilling deliveries. For every kilometre travelled carrying 1 tonne of goods a boat emits 3 grams of CO2, a train emits 18 grams, a truck emits 47 grams, and a plane emits 560 grams. Switching to boats or trains can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Allocating vehicles with more sustainable fuel sources than diesel such as LNG (liquid natural gas) or hydrogen will also reduce your carbon footprint. Implementing LNG comes with other benefits such as reducing running costs as the fuel is 10-25% cheaper than diesel.
  • Train drivers could reduce a good portion of CO2 emissions, through simple tasks like switching the engine off when still, rolling windows up at high speeds to reduce drag which consumes extra fuel, and drive off immediately after starting the engine.
  • To further limit transport CO2 emissions take a look at the businesses logistics chain and see about optimising it for reduced shipment sizes. Route planning, stricter vehicle filling, and resource pooling can aid this.
  • Conduct an in-depth analysis of logistics plans with the help of partners and participation from customers, transport routes can be streamlined along with emission.

OnLogistics has changed processes to reduce carbon emission through more efficient packaging in 2020. These include reducing the amount of packaging used to save space, reduce weight and minimise carbon to create more efficient logistics operation. To read more about how and why we embarked on making packaging more efficient visit: Case Study – The Impacts of Efficient Packaging - OnLogistics.

Gurdas Singh, Sales & Marketing Manager, OnLogistics