Logistics leaders must drive sustainability of the industry, as freight volumes continue to grow rapidly

The boom in online shopping has put increased demand on the logistics industry, resulting in continued growth in road and air freight.

An expert in environmental training and certification for large organisations warns that the logistics sector will contribute to alarming carbon emission levels if it does not effectively and strategically combat emissions now.

Implementation of a successful environmental strategy

A successful environmental strategy must be led by boards and executive leaders.

Saeid Nikdel, EMS expert at SAI Global says, “The rapid growth in deliveries of goods took much of the logistics industry by surprise last year, and they rose to the challenge to expedite deliveries to consumers and businesses.”

“The additional pressure in delivery volumes may have delayed the industry in making headway on setting and making carbon reduction emissions.”

“Now that businesses have had time to adjust to continual high delivery volumes, 2021 is a good year to create a plan to reduce each business’s environmental impact and create change within the industry overall.”

Online shopping sales in Australia have increased 64% monthly since March 2020. Global air cargo demand has surpassed pre-pandemic levels up 9% in Feb 2021 on Feb 2019 volumes.

With the transport sector accounting for 18% of Australia’s total emissions, sitting behind the energy sector, logistic and freight organisations need to step up.

Environmental challenges for the logistics sector

Saeid says, “The logistics sector has an enormous challenge ahead, and business leaders need to drive this change from the top. While transport is at the heart of the sector, stakeholders still want organisations to be transparent and accountable to their sustainability goals.”

“They want to see businesses taking active steps to minimise their impact. Government targets to achieve net-zero by 2050 also add pressure on businesses to take this seriously.”

Saeid says a top-down approach, whereby business leaders and CEOs actively lead an organisation’s environmental strategy and policy, is vital to a low-CO2 strategy.

Logistics leaders need to demonstrate their strong commitment to meeting the business objectives for all employees and relevant external providers to follow. They must have a framework in place to guide them.  

“There are various approaches the transport and logistics sector can apply to minimise its environmental footprint.”

“Smaller changes like using recyclable or recycled packaging materials, to significant ideas like transition to electric vehicles and drawing electricity from renewable-energy sources.”

“To keep a business accountable to its environmental objectives and ensure it is making progress, certifying to international benchmarks such as ISO 14001 Environmental Management System can be valuable.”

“It demonstrates to stakeholders and the broader business that there is a strategic plan for the business to be more sustainable.”

Organisations that certify to ISO 14001 can keep themselves accountable to its strategy as independent audits occur several times during the 3 year life cycle of the certificate.

It also guides business leaders who commit to an environmental policy to hold them responsible for driving the change.

Aspects of the ISO 14001 Environment Management System

  1. Leaders should take accountability for the effectiveness of the company’s EMS and ensure environmental objectives are established and compatible with the direction of the business.
  2. Business processes should reflect the EMS and strategy it has committed to. An organisation can adopt green procurement strategies, whereby products and services are chosen based on its minimal environmental impact over cost-based decisions.
  3. Leaders should equip the business with the necessary resources to successfully carry out the environmental strategy.
  4. To ensure it meets its intended outcomes, leaders must get the environmental policy and strategy regularly reviewed. Those that choose to certify to ISO 14001 will have regular audits during the certificate life cycle to ensure it meets the international benchmark. 
  5. Leaders should communicate the importance of the business’ environmental strategy and objectives to enable employees and relevant external providers to contribute to the effectiveness of the targets and ensure they have a clear understanding on the outcome.
  6. Company leaders are encouraged to promote continual improvement within the business and support key employees leading and driving this change within the business.

SAI Global is a provider of integrated risk management solutions. A combination of leading certification capabilities, training services and advisory offerings across the risk life cycle.

It helps organisations proactively manage risk to build trust with customers and achieve business confidence, growth, and sustainability.