Triumph of the tree-huggers?

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Logistics is of strategic importance in the move towards a low-carbon economy. That’s a key conclusion of a new report from Deutsche Post DHL entitled: “Delivering tomorrow – towards sustainable logistics”. It’s also a statement that can be taken two ways. For many, it will be a call to take the lead in improving the sustainability of logistics operations.

But others might well see it as giving the law-makers the ammunition to impose more onerous controls on the industry.

Certainly, some of the figures quoted offer significant ammunition. For example, out of 1.62 billion tonnes of truck emissions in Europe, roughly one quarter are caused by trucks running empty – often due to legal requirements. And paper for packaging requires seven million trees to be felled each year.

The report also found that 84 per cent of consumers in China, India, Malaysia and Singapore say they would accept a higher price for green products – compared to only 50 per cent in Western countries.
It is all too easy to be purely defensive and simply try to fend of legislative change that targets logistics. Those changes are already happening.

The report predicts that carbon pricing will lead to more stringent regulatory measures, carbon emissions will have a price tag, and CO2 labelling will become standardised.

And there are some very good reasons to take a more positive approach – not least the demands of customers. The report found that 63 per cent of business customers believe that logistics will become a strategic lever for carbon dioxide abatement.

Technological change will need a concerted drive from companies, governments and financial institutions.

Collaboration will play an important role – even erstwhile competitors will co-operate more closely, the report argues, pointing out that the business models of logistics companies will change.

You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to see the argument for the sustainable supply chain. The business case is getting stronger and stronger.

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