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Green or sustainable logistics is concerned with reducing environmental and other negative impacts associated with the movement of supplies. Sustainability seeks to ensure that decisions made today do not have an adverse impact on future generations. Green supply chains seek to reduce negative impact by redesigning sourcing, distribution systems and managing reverse logistics so as to eliminate any inefficiency, unnecessary freight movements and dumping of packaging.

A good example of one Logistics aspect that poses great risk to the environment is packaging.

For example, logistics deals with packaging of materials. Packaging represents one of the greatest challenges to environmental friendly logistics while at the same time being vital in shipping and storage.

Correct or incorrect packaging has consequences for how much of a product can be stored, how it is stored and or transported in a given space. This can increase to the unit cost if the packaging hinders optimization of storage space. Many industries have developed forms of packaging that do all that is required of them in transit but do not justify the expense of returning them to the point of origin. This packaging is only used once and then discarded. This principle goes all the way down to the level of individual tins or cartons of food.


  • labelling.
  • 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:

  • planning how legal obligations and targets will be met;
  • implementation (including operational controls) and operation of the plan (implementation should pay due regard to organisational structure and allocation of responsibilities);
  • training and communicating with staff; and
  • control of relevant documentation.


Organisations with environmental management systems will attempt to monitor their performance, and simple measures might include:

  • miles per gallon of fuel used;
  • average life of tyres expressed tires (in miles;percentage of tyres remoulded or re-grooved);
  • amount of waste lubrication oil generated by the operation;
  • utilisation of vehicle load space (expressed as a percentage);
  • percentage of miles run by vehicle empty; and
  • targets for reducing waste packaging.

Possible Areas for Improvement

Areas where improvement can often be made are:


Minimising Negative Environmental Impacts

Methods of improving the sustainability of logistics work:

  • Avoid wasting water by using simple water recycling methods;
  • avoidance of pollution of watercourses with Use interceptor tanks to avoid the run-off pollution from fuel dispensing areas by using interceptor tanks;careful .
  • Careful management and monitoring of other hazardous chemicals on site;
  • keeping Keep pallet stacks tidy; and
  • Take steps to better management of manage the production, collection and disposal of waste.


  • driver training reduces accidents and improves fuel consumption;
  • monitor fuel consumption;
  • monitor vehicle utilisation in terms of both payload and empty running;
  • follow preventative maintenance programmes as a poorly serviced vehicle uses vehicles use more fuel; and
  • dispose of used tyre casings responsibly.


  • what environmental risks do your organisation’s activities pose?
  • do the materials you use pose any danger?
  • do you know what impact the material that you supply (including its disposal) and services you provide have on the environment?
  • do you know what the quantity and or type of waste you produce?
  • do you know how this waste is disposed of and or what the cost is?
  • is your organisation operating the most cost-effective method of controlling or eliminating pollution risk?
  • are there hidden benefits such as greater efficiency, or even straight forward business opportunities (for example, commercial utilisation of waste) from adopting alternative methods of controlling or eliminating the pollution risk?
  • are you aware of existing environmental standards and legislation in the country in which you are operating?
  • what arrangement do you have for monitoring compliance with environmental legislation?
  • is senior management actively engaged in ensuring that proper weight is given to environmental considerations in your organisation?
  • could you improve your environmental image to the donors and employees? and
  • are you highlighting your environmental performance to donors?


This document is inspired by the collaborative works of the Universities of Cardiff, Heriot Watt, Lancaster, Southampton, Leeds and Westminster. These universities are undertaking research into the sustainability of logistics systems and supply chains – . The diagram above has been adapted from their work on sustainable logistics to the humanitarian space. . 


Forest Certification Resource Center: for businesses and consumers seeking accurate, objective information about forest certification

Legambiente: (League for the Environment) is the most widespread environmental organization in Italy