Green logistics is a relatively new field of research, and as such, most articles reviewed were published within the last ten years. The articles reviewed represent a mix of qualitative and quantitative studies, focusing on the perspectives of shippers and logistics service providers. The purpose of this literature review is to explore the existing research on green logistics, its trends, definition of the concepts and principles and its essential components. It also explores the relationship between green logistics and economic indicators, its cost-effectiveness and to identify the barriers to implementation of green logistics and ways of overcoming those barriers.
Green logistics is a highly researched and discussed topic in the management of logistics and transportation since these two are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, causing climate change and environmental damage. This literature review will focus on the global trends of green logistics, the definition of the concept and principles, its essential components, the impact on transportation and logistics management, and its cost-effectiveness for businesses. Ideas and data from peer-reviewed articles published in credible journals within the last five years will be used for evaluation.
Green logistics refers to the efficient and effective management of resources throughout the supply chain to reduce the negative impact of logistics activities on the environment. In order to achieve this, logistics activities must be planned and carried out in a way that minimizes waste, conserves energy, and reduces emissions (Sbihi & Eglese, 2009). Green logistics also includes efficiently using resources throughout the supply chain to minimize the negative impact of logistics activities on the environment.
The principles of green logistics are based on the triple bottom line approach, which considers logistics activities’ environmental, social, and economic impacts. The environmental dimension of green logistics considers the impacts of logistics activities on the environment, such as air pollution, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions (Aktas et al., 2018). The social dimension considers the impacts of logistics activities on people and communities, such as noise pollution, traffic congestion, and job loss. The economic dimension takes into account the impacts of logistics activities on the economy, such as the cost of fuel, the cost of infrastructure, and the cost of labor.
The components of green logistics include eco-friendly transportation, green supply chain management, and green warehousing. Eco-friendly transportation refers to using transportation methods with minimal environmental impacts, such as rail, waterways, and electric vehicles (El-Berishy & Scholz-Reiter, 2016). Green supply chain management encompasses all the activities involved in the planning, executing, and controlling of the flow of goods and services from the point of origin to the point of consumption. Green warehousing refers to the use of sustainable practices in the storage and distribution of goods.
Green logistics is a growing trend worldwide because humanity aims to slow down climate change and global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from industries and transportation. Most studies agree that green logistics can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide from product transference and boost businesses’ development due to its cost-effectiveness (Vienažindienė et al., 2021). However, many researchers claim that strategies proposed for sustainable logistics and transportation management will only be potent if used altogether.
Under the research in Green Logistics and Transportation and Logistics Management, some of the relationships that have been investigated include the link between green logistics and national scale economic indicators, as well as the shippers and logistics service providers on green logistics throughout the logistics purchasing process. One of the first studies conducted by Pazirandeh and Jafari (2013) found that eco-logistics practices can lead to increased productivity and performance in logistics operations. Al-Minhas et al. (2020) review the literature on green human resource management and green logistics. Findings from the study indicate that integrating these two areas is very important for effectively managing the environment. Another study by Zaman and Shamsuddin (2017) looked at the connection between green logistics and national-scale economic indicators in a panel of European countries. They found that there was a positive correlation between green logistics and economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), employment, exports, and imports.
The research on green logistics has been done in various contexts, including the Diffusion of Green Supply Chain Management, the To Green or Not to Green debate, and the development and implementation of a Green Logistics-Oriented Framework. Pazirandeh and Jafari (2013) reviewed the literature on green logistics and found that it can be defined in several ways. The study revealed several benefits of green logistics practices, such as reduced environmental impact, improved corporate image and reputation, and reduced operating costs. However, it found several barriers to the adoption of green logistics practices, including limited awareness, poor understanding of the benefits, reduced commitment from senior management, and technological problems.
Overall, the studies found inadequate coordination between shippers and logistics service providers on green logistics initiatives. This absence of collaboration is due to several factors, including the absence of communication and understanding of each other’s needs, trust issues, and incentive to work together (Jazairy et al., 2021; Hazen et al., 2011; Klumpp, 2016). There is also the absence of green logistics standardization, making it difficult for shippers and logistics service providers to compare and evaluate options (Sbihi & Eglese, 2009). This standardization problem is a barrier to adopting green logistics practices (Tan et al., 2020). The cost of implementing green logistics practices is often a barrier to adoption. This is especially true for small and medium-sized enterprises, which may not have the resources to invest in green logistics.
Solutions to overcoming these barriers include increasing communication and collaboration between shippers and logistics service providers, developing standards for green logistics, and providing financial incentives to encourage green logistics practices (Jazairy & von Haartman, 2020; Jazairy et al., 2021; Hazen et al., 2011; Klumpp, 2016). The research on green logistics has shown several advantages to implementing green practices in the logistics and transportation industry. Among these advantages is a decrease in emissions., improving the efficiency of operations, and reducing the cost of transportation (Hernandez-Mejia et al., 2022). However, there are also several challenges to implementing green logistics, such as the need for investment in new technology and the lack of standardization in the industry.
A number of the articles mention the need for investment in new technology to overcome the challenges of implementing green logistics. For example, Hilpert et al. (2013) mention the need for investment in Green IS to improve the efficiency of logistics operations. They state that Green IS can help to reduce emissions and improve the efficiency of transportation operations by reducing the amount of time and fuel needed to transport goods.
Sustainable green logistics platforms are the new way of reducing the carbon footprint and overall cost. Using these platforms has many benefits, including reducing pollution, traffic congestion, and energy consumption. The platforms can also help to improve the efficiency of the supply chain and to reduce the cost of transportation. To reduce the transportation sector’s environmental impact, it is important to use these platforms. According to Kwak et al. (2020), many factors affect the intention to use sustainable green logistics platforms. These factors include environmental attitude, perceived benefits, perceived risks, and perceived cost.
There is a great deal of debate surrounding the cost-effectiveness of green logistics. Some argue that the upfront investment required to implement green logistics practices makes them too expensive for most companies to justify (Klumpp, 2016). Others argue that, when the long-term benefits are considered, green logistics is more cost-effective than traditional logistics practices (Pazirandeh & Jafari, 2013). The cost-effectiveness of green logistics depends on several factors, such as the type of business, the size of the company, and the specific green logistics practices being implemented.
There are several reasons why green logistics may be more cost-effective in the long run than traditional logistics practices. Most importantly, green logistics practices can lead to increased efficiency and reduced waste throughout the supply chain. This can result in significant cost savings for businesses. Green logistics can also help businesses improve their environmental performance, leading to increased sales and brand loyalty.
The literature on green logistics has largely focused on the benefits and how to achieve them. There is less focus on the obstacles to implementing green logistics, which is a key area of interest for this research. The literature also lacks a comprehensive framework for green logistics that can be used to guide research and practice. These gaps align with research interests in green logistics and its impact on business performance. In particular, I am interested in exploring the barriers to implementing green logistics and developing a green logistics framework that can be used to guide research and practice
Green Logistics Is a Global Trend
Technology and transportation became advanced, but the amount of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere did not decrease despite global efforts to decelerate temperature rise and climate change. According to Larina et al. (2021), transportation accounts for approximately 25% of carbon dioxide production, inflicting immense pressure on economies and causing damage to nature. It was also found that higher gross domestic product and CO2 emissions are positively correlated (Shabani & Shahnazi, 2019). For instance, Shabani and Shahnazi (2019) presented the data from the top ten countries responsible for increased greenhouse gas production, most of which are highly industrialized and developed nations. These states are China, the United States, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Korea, Iran, Canada, and Saudi Arabia (Shabani & Shahnazi, 2019). On the other hand, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Singapore were active users of the green logistics methodology, making these low nations emitters of CO2 (Lu et al., 2019). Both groups are developed nations, but some managed to introduce sustainability principles into logistics management, while others still struggle to implement them.
Automobiles, airplanes, and trains are important contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. According to Larina et al. (2021), the amount of carbon dioxide produced by road, railway, water, and air transport exceeds that of the industrial sector. Therefore, the authors of this article claim that green logistics should become a critical tool that will help reduce the adverse effects of transportation on the environment. Many countries joined the global warming reduction initiative. They started implementing the principles of green logistics, but the results, which will be significant, may be deferred to the distant future.
Definition, Principles, and Components of Green Logistics
Its concept and principles must be defined to properly apply green logistics and reduce the negative impact of CO2 emissions from transportation. Green logistics can be understood as the processes needed to properly organize operations to minimize environmental damage (Seroka-Stolka & Ociepa-Kubicka, 2019). Furthermore, Seroka-Stolka and Ociepa-Kubicka (2019) define it as “a set of supply chain management practices and strategies that reduce the ecological and energy footprints of the distribution of goods” (p. 473). The principles of green logistics are aligned with the ones of sustainable development, which strives to ensure that businesses and industries handle the manufacturing and transportation of goods in an environmentally-friendly way.
Besides its usual functions, which include packaging, shipping, and transportation, green logistics is concerned with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Since most CO2 comes from transporting products, green logistics subdivided its approach into six central parts to manage it effectively and sustainably (Al-Minhas et al., 2020). The components of this approach are transport intensity, modal split, vehicle utilization, energy efficiency, emissions intensity, freight routes, and networks (Al-Minhas et al., 2020). The transport intensity element is necessary for estimating item transference’s economic and environmental impact from one place to another (Al-Minhas et al., 2020). Modal split selects the most optimal delivery method, while vehicle utilization and freight routes ensure that the shortest direction is selected (Al-Minhas et al., 2020). Energy efficiency and emission intensity components choose vehicles requiring less fuel and producing less CO2, respectively (Al-Minhas et al., 2020). Still, the author of this article admits that just applying these principles may be insufficient for the greenhouse gas emission issue unless alternative energy takes over petroleum.
Green Logistics and Transportation and Logistics Management
Transportation is a significant source of toxic waste, but researchers believe it does not have to be that way since clean energy solutions can be implemented. For example, electric vehicles were found to have the capacity to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% (Ren et al., 2020). However, this type of transportation does not currently dominate the market, probably due to lower speed and efficiency than conventional gasoline cars. Another sustainable, clean form of energy is solar power, which, when used in transportation, has minimal impact on the environment and human health (Agyabeng-Mensah et al., 2020). In fact, according to Agyabeng-Mensah et al. (2020), logistics and transportation management are highly wasteful processes producing emissions and pollution dangerous for human well-being since they may cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, bronchitis, and other health problems. The need to advance clean energy solutions and implement green logistics practices cannot be overstated.
It is crucial to understand how poor logistics can lead to more greenhouse gas emissions and what steps must be taken to overcome them. According to Karaman et al. (2020), unstructured and inefficient logistics results in the ineffective transportation of products, releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To improve this process and make it environmentally friendly, companies should select faster transportation routes, make schedules more flexible, and ensure proper tracking to avoid incorrect delivery (Karaman et al., 2020). The latter will inevitably require returning and sending the item to the correct address, which is an additional fuel and energy expenditure and hence higher carbon dioxide production.
Green logistics should consider not only routes of transportation but also be mindful of types of vehicles and fuel. Only particular transportation methods can be used for some products and specific destinations. For instance, oil transference between continents is primarily carried by maritime transport (Atmayudha et al., 2021). The study by Atmayudha et al. (2021) found that the type of fuel influences the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Specifically, the authors determined that ships that run on diesel release less CO2 than ones using liquid natural gas (Atmayudha et al., 2021). At the same time, in this article, the main idea is that it is impossible to reduce greenhouse gas production by making only one or two changes to logistics and transportation management (Atmayudha et al., 2021). Hence, a series of changes like increasing vessel size, better fleet coordination, and efficient routing combined with less toxic fuels will help make logistics more sustainable.
Cost-Effectiveness of Green Logistics
Although green logistics seems complex and expensive, it not only raises the effectiveness of business operations but is also cost-efficient. Indeed, the study by Yingfei et al. (2022) found that implementing green logistics boosts companies’ economic performance. Moreover, as Atmayudha et al. (2021) discussed, diesel ships produce a significantly lower amount of carbon dioxide than gasoline vessels. Considering that the former costs 3-4 times less than the latter, the application of sustainable logistics principles can be economical for companies (Atmayudha et al., 2021). However, frugality and environmental friendliness are not the only two advantages of green logistics. It employs people by creating the constant need for professionals knowledgeable about the field and open to learning new information on sustainability. Specifically, according to Al-Minhas et al. (2020), the transportation and logistics management sector employs more than 7.7 million people in the United States. The application of green logistics in business management and transportation of products appears to enhance firms’ development.
A literature review showed that green logistics is a growing trend worldwide because humanity aims to slow down climate change and global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from industries and transportation. Most studies agree that green logistics can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide from product transference and boost businesses’ development due to its cost-effectiveness. However, many researchers claim that strategies proposed for sustainable logistics and transportation management will only be potent if used altogether. These approaches include using alternative fuels, increasing vessel size, building shorter routes, and increasing tracking precision. Although much information was found on the efficiency of green logistics, the central gap in this research field is that there is no quantitative data on its influence. Therefore, it is crucial to initiate global-scale studies investigating the numeric impact of green logistics on transportation and logistics management.
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