Logistics and transport activities are having a major impact on the environment in which we all live. For example, excess carbon emission has changed the environmental landscape, by destroying the ecosystem. Indigenous forests have thinned out and changed rain patterns, thus, impacting farming and food production. Consequently, logistics and transport have attracted significant legislation at both national and international levels. Targets for improving environmental performance have been set by the international community.
The ISO 14000 series of standards provides a formal system for the management of environmental matters. The ISO 140004 family addresses various aspects of environmental management. The very first two standards deal with environmental management systems (EMS).
- I SO 14001:2004 provides the requirements for an EMS.
- I SO 14004:2004 gives general EMS guidelines.
The other standards and guidelines in the family address specific environmental aspects, which include the following:
- Performance evaluation
- Life-cycle analysis
- Communication and auditing
This standard provides a framework for managing environmental issues rather than establishing performance requirements. It is seen as a process that starts with the creation of an environmental policy and leads on to the following:
- Planning of how legal obligations and targets will be met
- I mplementation of plans
- Training and communicating with staff
- Control of relevant documentation
Once an EMS is set up, it is then formally monitored through an auditing process, which will identify corrective action that will need to be carried out. Organizations with environmental management systems will attempt to monitor their transportation freight performance, and simple measures might include the following:
- Miles per liters of fuel used
- Average life of tires in terms of miles traveled
- Percentage of tires remolded or regrooved
- Amount of waste lubrication oil generated by the operation
- Utilization of vehicle load space expressed as a percentage
- Percentage of miles run by empty vehicle
Social issues may also be considered, because consumers are sometimes concerned about the social impact of a product. For example, if an apparel-manufacturing company underpays its workers and employees children, consumers might boycott the company even though the manufacturing process is “green.” Companies may actively promote worker and community welfare to emphasize that they believe in community responsibility as well as environmental responsibility, so that their products are more appealing to consumers.
Every stage of product manufacturing and delivering can benefit from green logistics, from developing better methods to extract raw materials to reducing packaging on products when they are prepared for delivery. Consumers are willing to pay more for products bearing labeling that indicates that the parent company practiced environmental and social responsibility when making the product, which makes green logistics appealing from a business ethics point of view.
The transportation industry is a major contributor to environmental issues through its modes, infrastructures, and flows. The developing field of logistics was seen by many as an opportunity for the transportation industry to present a more environmentally friendly face. Some examples of green logistics are as follows:
- Shipping products in bigger lot sizes to economize on fuel
- Reducing overall packaging
- Using raw materials that are harvested in a sustainable way
- Environmentally friendly manufacturing/storage facilities
- Promoting recycling and reuse programs
Source: Sople V.V (2013), Logistics Management, Pearson Education India; Third edition.