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Green logistics is quickly gaining importance gaining importance throughout logistics and supply chain management. Donors and host nations are becoming more aware of "green" environmental issues. Simultaneously,  international international "green"  legislation legislation is being introduced and applied world-wide to all aspects of business including humanitarian supply chains.

This topic aims to introduce logisticians to green logistics aspects and considerations and encourage them to think in "green" terms, to highlight the challenges and to indicate some advantages of thinking "green."

What is Green Logistics ?

Green logistics , in the context of humanitarian logistics encourages all stakeholders to consider the impact of their actions on the environment. The main objective of Green green logistics is to coordinate the activities within a supply chain in such a way that beneficiary needs are met at "least cost" to the environment. It is a principal component of reverse logistics. In the past “cost” has been defined in purely monetary terms, whereas "cost" can now also be understood as the external costs of logistics associated with: climate change, air pollution, dumping waste (including packaging waste), soil degradation, noise, vibration and accidents.

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Logistics and transport activities have been identified as having a major impact on the environment. Consequently, significant legislation at both national and international level has started to be produced. Targets for improving environmental performance have been set by the international community via a range of international agreements and meetings, from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals at Rio+20 in 2015 and the climate change related meetings of the Kyoto Protocol, in particular the Paris Accord, also adopted in 2015. International agreements of particular relevance to Logisticians logisticians include the Basel-Rotterdam-Stockholm conventions on management of wastes, the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer (covering substances including air conditioning gases) and the Minamata convention on phasing out mercury.

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  • ISO 14001:2015 provides the requirements for an EMS.
  • ISO 14004:2015 2016 gives general EMS guidelines.

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This series of questions can be used as a check-list to focus on key areas for consideration in the humanitarian sector:

  • what environmental risks do your organisation’s activities pose?
  • do the materials you use pose any danger to the environment, staff or beneficiaries?
  • do you know what impact the material that you supply (including its disposal) and services you provide have on the environment?
  • do you know the quantity or type of waste you produce?
  • do you know how this waste is disposed of 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 straightforward 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 attention 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?

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