Sustainability the new competitive weapon

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Last year a report by Accenture, The sustainable supply chain, argued that organisations that take the lead in developing innovative supply chain strategies and then proactively embed sustainability within their operations will most likely stay ahead on supply chain performance over the longer term.

Now the baton has been taken up by Deutsche Post DHL which argues that logistics has a strategic role in the move towards a low-carbon economy.

Its report, Delivering tomorrow – towards sustainable logistics, highlights some dramatic numbers. 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 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 CO2 abatement.

Deutsche Post DHL argues that technological change will be need a concerted drive from companies, governments and financial institutions, and even erstwhile competitors will cooperate more closely. In fact, it says, the business models of logistics companies will change.

The pressure to improve the sustainability of supply chain operations is continuing to mount – and there is clearly a growing expectation that by embracing sustainable thinking, organisations can gain a competitive advantage.

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