Green logistics is a highly researched and discussed topic in the field of 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, as well as 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 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 found to be active users of green logistics methodology, making these nations low 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 and started implementing the principles of green logistics, but the results, which will be significant and meaningful, may be deferred to the distant future.
Definition, Principles, and Components of Green Logistics
Its concept and principles need to be defined to apply green logistics properly 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 that include packaging, shipping, and transportation, green logistics is concerned about 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 a lower amount of 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 that 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 compared to conventional gasoline cars. Another promising sustainable and 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 strive to 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. For some types of products and specific destinations, only particular transportation methods can be used. 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 the fact 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. In fact, it provides employment to 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 review of the literature showed that green logistics is a growing trend worldwide because humanity is aiming 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 that will investigate the numeric impact of green logistics on transportation and logistics management.
Agyabeng-Mensah, Y., Afum, E., & Ahenkorah, E. (2020). Exploring financial performance and green logistics management practices: Examining the mediating influences of market, environmental and social performances. Journal of Cleaner Production, 258, 1-13.
Al-Minhas, U., Ndubisi, N. O., & Barrane, F. Z. (2020). Corporate environmental management: A review and integration of green human resource management and green logistics. Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal. 31(2), 431-450.
Atmayudha, A., Syauqi, A., & Purwanto, W. W. (2021). Green logistics of crude oil transportation: A multi-objective optimization approach. Cleaner Logistics and Supply Chain, 1, 1–12. Web.
Karaman, A. S., Kilic, M., & Uyar, A. (2020). Green logistics performance and sustainability reporting practices of the logistics sector: The moderating effect of corporate governance. Journal of Cleaner Production, 258, 1-15. Web.
Larina, I. V., Larin, A. N., Kiriliuk, O., & Ingaldi, M. (2021). Green logistics-modern transportation process technology. Production Engineering Archives, 27(3), 184-190.
Lu, M., Xie, R., Chen, P., Zou, Y., & Tang, J. (2019). Green transportation and logistics performance: An improved composite index. Sustainability, 11(10), 1-17. Web.
Ren, R., Hu, W., Dong, J., Sun, B., Chen, Y., & Chen, Z. (2020). A systematic literature review of green and sustainable logistics: Bibliometric analysis, research trend and knowledge taxonomy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(1), 1-25.
Seroka-Stolka, O., & Ociepa-Kubicka, A. (2019). Green logistics and circular economy. Transportation Research Procedia, 39, 471-479.
Shabani, Z. D., & Shahnazi, R. (2019). Energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, information, and communications technology, and gross domestic product in Iranian economic sectors: A panel causality analysis. Energy, 169, 1064–1078. Web.
Yingfei, Y., Mengze, Z., Zeyu, L., Ki-Hyung, B., Avotra, A. A. R. N., & Nawaz, A. (2022). Green logistics performance and infrastructure on service trade and environment-measuring firm’s performance and service quality. Journal of King Saud University-Science, 34(1), 1-10. Web.