This paper explores the concept of green logistics development as an alternative means to traditional supply chains that have had a significant influence on the environment and climate. Product distribution through roads contributes to the massive emission of greenhouse gasses. Initially, firms tended to neglect their environmental responsibilities and focused on profit maximization. As such, their operations are responsible for the adverse effects on the climate. The result of such negligence has been the rising global warming. Green logistics is one of the strategies that companies should embrace to ensure that the future is secured. Several green practices have been suggested to address the problems, including the use of multimodal shipment, freight consolidation, traffic reconstruction, and home delivery. However, considering that the world wants to reduce significant carbon emissions, new suggestions include the use of green-powered vehicles for distribution, incorporation of carbon offsetting companies, and redesign of road networks to meet green logistics principles.
Keywords: green logistics, greenhouse gasses, global warming, supply chains
Ideas on the Project and Problem
Supply chain management, also called logistics, defines the transportation, handling, and storage of goods in their movement along the supply chain from the point where the raw materials are sourced to the consumption stage. These processes are critical determinants of business performance in addition to the fact that they are fundamental to the development of the economy and the social welfare. Most firms prioritize profit maximization at the expense of virtually every production aspect, including environment (Thomas, 2013). Given this, environmental concerns are increasing the pressure on industry players so that they find solutions that address the impacts companies’ logistics operations have had. In particular, their daily logistics activities have resulted in adverse environmental effects. Such negative externalities include air pollution, especially in urban centers and other areas, emission of greenhouse gasses that have had a significant contribution to global warming, levels of vibrations and noise that are environmentally unacceptable, and accidents caused (Dasaklis & Pappis, 2013). The traditional logistics and supply chain management has significantly affected the climate change. As such, other inexpensive, environmentally friendly measures need to be taken for sustainable ecological and economic development. This paper focuses on the development of green logistics as a means to ease the influence of the supply chain on climate change and environmental degradation. It also aims at seeing how the concept of green logistics can be useful in the substantive reduction of other negative externalities caused by logistics such as accidents.
Global environmental authorities are becoming concerned about the influence traditional logistics and supply chains have had on the environment. Therefore, there is an increased pressure on firms and other industry stakeholders to launch environmentally responsible operations and be committed to the preservation of the natural environment. Such move will ensure the reduction of carbon emission and subsequently protect lifeline factors like the ozone layer, as well as reduce the air quality damages, noise, and accidents. Green logistic development is a factor that can trigger sustainable development by lowering the impacts of the aforementioned negative externalities.
According to Hans (2011), approximately 8% of energy-related carbon emissions globally are caused by freight transport. This implies that the world can reduce carbon emission by close to 8% if adjustments are made to supply chains that involve freight transportation. For many years, green supply chains (GSCs) have been a significant component of supply chain and environmental strategies of most firms. The GSC concept comprises a wide array of practices. They include green procurement to incorporated supply chains moving from suppliers to processors, to consumers, and finally, the reverse supply chain that closes the loop (Lee, 2008). The author believes that viewing the concept of GSC from a life-cycle perspective, the strategies that strive to realize the GSC goal, which includes significant economic and environmental gain of the supply, are difficult to successfully execute if the supply chain associates are not completely involved. As such, it is paramount to include small and medium enterprise suppliers in the improvement processes (Lee, 2008).
Green logistics is primarily concerned with strategies and practices of supply chain management that work to minimize the environmental and energy footprint of freight distribution (Tamulis, Guzavičius, & Žalgirytė, 2012). The authors argue that the focus on global ecology puts pressure on logistics practices. The reason for the shifted attention is the realization that logistics is one of the significant pollution and global warming factors. Tamulis et al. (2012) assert that transport emits massive amounts of greenhouse gasses. Nonetheless, new green initiatives are established and promoted to counter the externalities. However, such green solutions sometimes do not result in improved profits for companies. As such, they may lack interest in them. Companies tend to pay no attention to the environmental impacts the distribution processes have due to the huge revenue they collect.
Factors that influence green logistics include society, politics, consumers, and firms. The interplay of these factors affects the green solutions in a special way. For example, consumers may demand goods distributed with vehicles considered clean, that is, with minimal carbon emissions. This requirement forces suppliers to adopt green solutions, though they would not do that otherwise. Customers can also force the implementation of green logistics solutions by demanding home delivery (Tamulis et al., 2012). As such, they will be helping in reducing kilometers driven by company vehicles to supermarkets. Political factors include environmental laws that check logistics operations, power to provide incentives, and infrastructure regulation.
Seroka-Stolka (2014) believes that sustainable development pillars, which include economy, environment, and the society, apply to the concept of green logistics and sustainable development (see Figure 1). Initially, firms integrated their logistics operations consisting of data collection and management, materials administration, packaging, warehousing, and freight transport to satisfy consumer needs at minimum cost. However, today, environmental issues have become a concern to them. As such, it is considered a factor of cost.
Figure 1. Seroka-Stolka’s green logistics as a factor of sustainable development diagram.
In connection to this, several companies have included logistics external costs in their budget that are related to environmental problems that include air pollution, noise, and climate change (Seroka-Stolka, 2014). Thus, green logistics is considered as an effort to find effective ways of alleviating the negative externalities and realize a sustainable balance between social, economic, and environmental objectives. Such efforts are centered on ensuring sustainability (Hans, 2011). In a similar version, Hans (2011) views the sustainable development factors as the primary building blocks of green logistics. The interactions of sub-elements in each factor create the green logistic model as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Hans’ sustainable logistics.
Humans face various crises that include the shortage of resources, environmental degradation, and population outburst. According to Ping (2009), these problems have given green logistics the attention it currently enjoys. Just like Hans (2011) and Seroka-Stolka (2014), Ping (2009) believes that green logistics plays a central role in sustainable development. It has close links to green consumption, green marketing, and green production. Several economic activities practiced by people must be restricted to avoid over-exploitation of resources, environmental damage, and the cycle of pollution. Ping (2009) agrees that modern logistics should concentrate on establishing a healthy development momentum and the protection of the environment and scarce resources. Therefore, green logistics becomes unavoidable for the realization of modern logistics that addresses the externalities. The author accords environmental issues top priority in averting adverse climatic changes using responsible distributions operations (Ping, 2009).
Several models that examine environmental issues have been created until today. Nevertheless, none of them has been executed in practice (El-Berishy & Scholz-Reiter, 2016). The two authors believe that integration of tactical and operational decisions can reduce the impact transportation activities have on the environment and the economy. As a green logistic initiative, El-Berishy and Scholz-Reiter argue that the two-stage stochastic model generates optimal routes and velocities for company vehicles. The primary objective of the design is to ensure that total distribution costs and the associated emissions are substantially minimized. This initiative can reduce the transportation costs up to 13% while remaining environmentally friendly (El-Berishy & Scholz-Reiter, 2016). Such output is indicative of the potential green logistics role in offsetting adverse climate change and environmental degradation, alongside other logistics externalities.
New Solutions to the Problem
Green logistics emphasizes utilization of friendly transportation means, which saves costs and results in minimal ecological and social damages. It focuses on the forward movement of the supply chain that reduces consumption of nonrenewable natural resources and production of hazardous waste materials. The new solution suggested in this research paper is based on the previous studies conducted by various authors. According to Tamulis et al. (2012), green logistics solutions include using clean vehicles for product distribution, utilizing multimodal shipment in the supply chain, and employing freight consolidation since several half-full tracks are not economical, yet they release a significant amount of carbon and cause traffic congestion. Some other solutions are home delivery and road infrastructure (Tamulis et al., 2012). By following these suggestions, it is still clear that some amount of greenhouse gasses will still be emitted to the atmosphere. As such, using green energy powered trucks will solve the problem of carbon emission. Companies have to adopt vehicles whose engines have been adjusted to run on solar power or solar rechargeable batteries. Such vehicles are 100% environmentally friendly since they do not emit gasses or contribute to noise pollution. Furthermore, they lower operating costs since energy will be free as opposed to petrol or diesel. It is also suggested here that road networks must be redesigned in such a way that company vehicles that distribute products have their lanes that make it easier to conduct home delivery and reach supermarkets or their dropping points, hence eliminating congestions in most urban centers. Finally, companies such as GreenFleet that help to offset carbon dioxide must be integrated into the supply chain management to assist in offsetting greenhouse gasses emitted through logistics operations.
The environmental impacts that the traditional supply chains have had over time have increased pressure on the firms to adopt new transportation means that are environmentally responsible and friendly. One of the ways to address the negative externalities is the implementation of the concept of green logistics. This concept looks at the best ways to ensure that companies register profits while maintaining environmental sustainability for sustainable development and upward social mobility. Previous authors suggested several green logistics practices that included freight consolidation, multimodal shipment, and clean vehicles. This research paper is based on the previous green practices by suggesting new solutions that include using green energy powered vehicles for distribution, redesigning road networks to conform to green principles, and incorporating carbon offsetting companies such as GreenFleet into supply chain management.