The Pace Logistics Lab

Exploring Today’s Marketplace Through the Lens of Logistics

Sustainability: An Action Plan for Logistics

Sustainability in Logistics

Sustainability has become a hot topic over the last few years. Many experts note that our industry – logistics – contributes 7% to global greenhouse gas emissions. While concern over the environment and sustainability are important societal issues, many supply chain players have been slow to act – particularly mid to small sized companies. 

Sustainability means different things depending on context. In its broadest sense, sustainability is “the ability to be maintained at a certain level or rate.”  Certainly, a company is in business to be sustainable – that is, profitable at a certain level and growing at a certain rate. Other definitions include avoiding the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance or pursuing global environmental sustainability. Sustainability is about meeting our needs today without compromising the outlook for future generations to meet their needs – environmentally, socially, and economically. 

Logistics and Sustainability  

A recent survey of logistics industry professionals conducted by Freightwaves in partnership with Blume Global indicates that individuals are more concerned with sustainability than the companies they work for, while those companies tend to be more concerned than the logistics industry at large. While a focus on sustainability is stronger at the individual level than at the company or industry levels, that trend is beginning to shift.  Moreover, 76% of respondents believe that the logistics industry is interested in sustainability, and 91% believe their companies are interested in exploring sustainability programs at the organizational level.  

As we mentioned, the logistics industry currently contributes 7% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the EPA, the transportation industry accounts for 29% of GHG emissions. Over half these global greenhouse gas emissions come from passenger cars and light-duty trucks including pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans. The rest are attributed to commercial aviation, rail, and ships. Because logistics and transportation are responsible for such significant amounts of fossil fuel consumption and GHG emissions, increasing sustainability across these industries has the potential to significantly improve the global environmental outlook. However, while sustainability goals are becoming more popular and make sense, many businesses find it challenging to take practical steps to meet these goals.  

Getting Started with Sustainability

How do you develop a sustainability plan, and why should you want to?  

When Blume Global teamed up with Freightwaves to conduct a survey of those in the freight industry, the survey revealed that the leading motivators for adopting a sustainability program are:  

  • Corporate responsibility  
  • Concern about climate change  
  • Demand from supply chain partners  
  • Consumer demand 

Interestingly, very few survey respondents believed that regulatory pressures were a significant factor driving sustainability. Social pressures and environmental concerns may be stronger motivators than governmental pressures. Consumers are becoming more conscious about the environmental impact of their purchasing habits, and they are actively seeking sustainable products from responsible supply chains. Sustainability may affect a company’s bottom line by appealing to consumers’ social responsibility preferences. 

Technology and Optimized Route Planning

Once a company decides to “go green,” how does it develop and implement an environmental sustainability program? Nearly 80% of Blume Global survey respondents said they believed technology was the most crucial factor for achieving sustainability goals, followed by: 

  • Renewable energy 
  • Green buildings 
  • Recycling, and 
  • Alternative fuels.  

Technology, particularly software used in optimized route planning, is a great starting point for your sustainability program. Technology and optimized route planning can help reduce GHG emissions by increasing operational efficiencies. The EPA also suggests training drivers in techniques that reduce fuel consumption, including efficient driving habits and smart vehicle maintenance. Technology is a key (and potentially underutilized) component in the transportation industry when pursuing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.   

In the survey conducted by Blume Global, participants reviewed topics such as technologies that optimize route planning, renewable energy vehicles, technologies that recommend carriers and routes with a minimal carbon footprint (vs cost and on-time performance), as well as technologies that provide carbon footprint transparency for carriers and routes. The survey results demonstrate that the technology that makes the biggest impact on reducing GHG emissions is believed to be one that optimizes route planning. Renewable energy vehicles came in as a close second.  

When it comes to technological advances toward sustainability in the logistics industry, optimized route planning may in fact have the greatest impact on reducing GHG emissions. Transporting empty containers is the leading culprit that produces negative miles while reducing profit, customer satisfaction, and the ability to drive carrier utilization. Pace often utilizes optimized route planning and dynamic routing for our customers. This effort not only helps save time and money but also advances us toward environmental sustainability and reducing GHG emissions. CEO of Blume Global Pervinder Johar states, “Empty miles are a significant driver of increased supply chain costs and carbon emissions. Reducing empty miles can be done through street turn matching, which matches outbound moves with inbound moves to rail ramps, rather than repositioning empty containers for pickup,” Johar says. Optimized route planning has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the logistics industry. 

Renewable Energy 

Respondents also considered renewable energy vehicles to be a valuable investment for the future of sustainability in logistics. However, renewable energy vehicles such as electric trucks can present a significant cost barrier. In fact, half the survey respondents indicated that funding was the largest obstacle to implementing a sustainability program at their company. Industry experts point out that while the upfront costs of many sustainability initiatives are high, the overall payoff may be worth it. Glenn Jones, Global Vice President of Product at Blume Global, explains that “Going green helps attract socially-conscious consumers who are considering sustainability practices as they make day to day purchases.”  

While renewable energy is without a doubt a factor of consideration for proponents of a carbon-neutral logistics industry, even an electric vehicle leaves a footprint if coal is used to produce the electricity that powers it. Electric vehicles also depend upon the accessibility of charging stations and the time necessary to complete a charge. Along those same lines, solar energy continues to be a distant dream for many communities due to steep upfront costs and variable levels of practicality depending upon where one lives. That said, alternative fuels may present shippers and carriers with a first and more cost-effective step forward.   

Alternative Fuels 

Alternative fuels like natural gas still produce GHG emissions, but not as much as traditional fossil fuels. In fact, renewable natural gas derived from methane can reduce GHG vehicle emissions by 382%. So, while alternative fuels may not be a permanent solution, they can help shippers and carriers begin achieving their sustainability goals until the industry is able to fully shift to renewable energy. 

Regardless of the steps it takes to get there, we are moving toward a more widespread adoption of sustainable operations as consumers, suppliers, shippers, and carriers become deeply connected to environmental impact. Not only can sustainable practices increase profitability through operational efficiencies, but they can also attract environmentally conscious consumers, shippers, and supply chain partners. There are many paths forward and more to be discovered through the collective ingenuity of humankind. Technology and innovation will help the logistics industry and its stakeholders keep driving toward a brighter future.  

Latest Logistics Lab Posts

The State of Returns

Shoppers sent back nearly 17% of the total merchandise they purchased in 2022, totaling $816 billion, according to data from the National Retail Federation, up

Read More »

Privacy Policy

PACE takes your privacy very seriously; in general, you can visit PACE websites without telling us who you are and without revealing any information about yourself. There are times, however, when we may need information from you.

PACE does not rent, sell, or share personal information about you with other people or nonaffiliated companies except to provide products or services you’ve requested, when we have your permission, or under the following circumstances:

  1. We provide the information to trusted partners who work on behalf of or with PACE under extremely strict confidentiality agreements. These companies may use your personal information to help PACE communicate with you about offers from PACE and our marketing partners. However, these companies do not have any independent right to share this information.
  2. We have a parent’s permission to share the information if the user is a child under age 13.
  3. We respond to subpoenas, court orders, or legal process, or to establish or exercise our legal rights or defend against legal claims.
  4. We believe it is necessary to share information in order to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the physical safety of any person, or as otherwise required by law.
  5. We transfer information about you if PACE is acquired by or merged with another company.

You may choose to give us personal information, such as your name and address or e-mail id that may be needed, for example, to correspond with you, to download our white papers or to provide you with a subscription. If you tell us that you do not want us to use this information as a basis for further contact with you, we will respect your wishes. We intend to protect the quality and integrity of your personally identifiable information.

We will make a sincere effort to respond in a timely manner to your requests to correct inaccuracies in your personal information. To correct inaccuracies in your personal information please return the message containing the inaccuracies to the sender with details of the correction requested.

Terms of Use

The following terms and conditions will be deemed to have been accepted by the User on usage of the website pacedelivers. You are requested to read them carefully before you use the services of this site.

  1. The term User shall refer to the user who is browsing the site. The term PACE shall refer to PACE Inc. The term Site refers to owned and monitored by PACE.
  2. By using the Site, you agree to follow and be bound by the following terms and conditions concerning your use of the Site. PACE may revise the Terms of Use at any time without notice to you. Areas of the Site may have different terms of use posted. If there is a conflict between the Terms of Use and terms of use posted for a specific area of the Site, the latter shall have precedence with respect to your use of that area of the Site.
  3. PACE may terminate User’s access at any time for any reason. The provisions regarding to disclaimer of warranty, accuracy of information and indemnification shall survive such termination. PACE may monitor access to the Site.
  4. All content present on this site is the exclusive property of PACE. The software, text, images, graphics, video and audio used on this site belong to PACE. No material from this site may be copied, modified, reproduced, republished, uploaded, transmitted, posted or distributed in any form without prior written permission from PACE. All rights not expressly granted herein are reserved. Unauthorized use of the materials appearing on this site may violate copyright, trademark and other applicable laws, and could result in criminal or civil penalties. PACE is a registered trademark of PACE Inc. This trademark may not be used in any manner without prior written consent from PACE.
  5. PACE does not make any warranties, express or implied, including, without limitation, those of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to any information, data, statements or products made available on the Site.
  6. The Site, and all content, materials, information, software, products and services provided on the Site, are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis. PACE expressly disclaims all warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement.
  7. PACE shall have no responsibility for any damage to User’s computer system or loss of data that results from the download of any content, materials, information from the Site.
  8. PACE may change or discontinue any aspect of its website at any time, including its content or features. PACE reserves the right to change the terms and conditions applicable to the use of the Site. Such changes shall be effective immediately upon notice, which shall be placed on the Site.
  9. In no event will PACE be liable for damages of any kind, including without limitation, direct, incidental or consequential damages (including, but not limited to, damages for lost profits, business interruption and loss of programs or information) arising out of the use of or inability to use PACE’ website, or any information provided on the website, or in the Products any claim attributable to errors, omissions or other inaccuracies in the Product or interpretations thereof. Some jurisdictions do not allow the limitation or exclusion of liability. Accordingly, some of the above limitations may not apply to the User.
  10. User agrees to indemnify, defend and hold PACE harmless from and against all losses, expenses, damages and costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, arising out of or relating to any misuse by the User of the content and services provided on the Site.
  11. The information contained in the Site has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. PACE disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information.
  12. PACE makes no warranty that: (a) the Site will meet your requirements; (b) the Site will be available on an uninterrupted, timely, secure, or error-free basis; (c) the results that may be obtained from the use of the Site or any services offered through the Site will be accurate or reliable.
  13. The User’s right to privacy is of paramount importance to PACE. Any information provided by the User will not be shared with any third party. PACE reserves the right to use the information to provide the User a more personalized online experience.
  14. The Site provides links to web sites and access to content, products and services from third parties, including users, advertisers, affiliates and sponsors of the Site. You agree that PACE is not responsible for the availability of, and content provided on, third party web sites. The User is requested to peruse the policies posted by other web sites regarding privacy and other topics before use. PACE is not responsible for third party content accessible through the Site, including opinions, advice, statements and advertisements, and User shall bear all risks associated with the use of such content. PACE is not responsible for any loss or damage of any sort User may incur from dealing with any third party.

We got your message!

Thank you – we’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks for your interest!

We will keep your information on file and let you know if an opportunity becomes available in your area.