Expert reveals solutions for the logistics sector to minimise its environmental impact

The logistics sector tackled multiple challenges in 2020 while simultaneously meeting a boom in delivery volumes, thanks to an increase in online purchases. A new and growing challenge for this transport reliant sector is balancing its business goals with the desire, and expectation to lower emissions and become environmentally sustainable.

Global risk management provider SAI Global reveals a straightforward strategic pathway for the sector to reduce its environmental impact.

What are the environmental impact challenges faced by the logistics sector?

Saeid Nikdel, EMS expert at SAI Global, says that while in 2020, the logistics sector balanced business objectives with social restrictions and bio security measures, 2021 and beyond will require a balance of business and carbon-reduction objectives.

Government is leading the way with various sustainable projects for emission-reduction goals in play, such as the NSW Government’s incentives to the private sector to switch to renewable energy with a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2042.

The South Australian Government is also planning a $60 million investment in energy-efficient Government buildings. Sooner or later, governments will act to ensure businesses take full responsibility for their environmental impact.

Those businesses that have already begun a process of action that is on-going, accountable and measurable will reach the standards required in the time frames set out by any new legislation, and future-proof their brand.

Some major players in the logistics sector are likely to have corporate social responsibility goals, and demonstrating a responsible approach to environmental management can improve public confidence in their brand.

Saeid says the transport-dependent logistics industry cannot avoid an environmental impact. Australia’s transport emissions account for 19 per cent of the country’s overall carbon emissions which is a higher rate than the world-combined transport emissions figure of 15%.

The sector can, however, reduce its footprint across waste, energy use, transportation and operations. Saeid says a strategic pathway to providing reassurance to the public that a business has environmental goals set, is held accountable to those goals and continually exceeding international certification benchmarks.

The role of ISO 14001 EMS is vital

Certification to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, a structured approach to environmental protection ensures that logistics businesses are working to a results-focused environmental management system that is independently audited several times a year.

ISO 14001 is the international benchmark. Unlike carbon-reduction-specific certifications, ISO 14001 ensures businesses respond to all environmental issues as it improves resource efficiency, reduces waste and energy costs. However, it is flexible and allows businesses to choose outcomes.

ISO 14001 certification guarantees a business to develop and implement policies by delivering environmentally responsible and sustainable business practices that meet internationally recognised and accredited benchmarks.

ISO 14001 ensures following a clear five-pillar approach:

  1. Businesses must understand external and internal factors that may affect their ability to achieve desired sustainability outcome. Objectives and time frames should be regularly updated to remain realistic and attainable.
  2. Leaders must commit to the environmental strategy and management system implemented in their workplace and take accountability for its effectiveness through regular reviews and refinements. Sufficient resource allocation, clear environmental policies and objectives like appointing key executives to specific roles and responsibilities.
  3. Developing a robust environmental strategy takes careful planning to address any risks and opportunities within the industry and the organisation itself. A plan must outline environmental objectives, steps to achieve them, and the necessary changes to management.
  4. Redistribution of resources to ensure progress is made on the environmental management system and is carefully monitored. A life cycle process is recommended to plan, implement and control processes and meet environmental requirements for its products and services. 
  5. Business should verify and evaluate the capabilities of the processes it has developed, including customer feedback.


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