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Sustainable Transportation: 4 Ways To Make Your Supply Chain Sustainable

Sustainable Transportation: 
4 Ways To Make Your 
Supply Chain Sustainable
Nasir Khan

Nasir Khan

Wondering how to achieve sustainable transportation within your supply chain? These 4 solutions can help you greenify your business operations

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Introduction

The entire transportation sector accounts for approximately 21% of the world’s total CO2 emissions. Out of this percentage, around 44% of emissions arrive from freight or supply chain transportation.

With businesses now feeling the heat to meet net-zero targets by 2050, the pressure is on to reduce their  supply chains CO2 emissions. 

However, the emissions issue is catch-22, perpetuated by a rise in home deliveries and rapid-delivery services available across the world. Sustainable transportation practices across supply chains needs to be the solution to an increase of shipped goods and ecommerce trading.

So, how can businesses greenify their supply chain while maintaining their profit margins alongside these changes?

Let’s find out. 

What is sustainable transportation?

how to achieve sustainable transportation
photo credit: Unsplash

Since the term “sustainable transportation” carries the word “sustainable” with it, this means the essence of sustainability will come into the picture here. It needs to balance the needs of the present generation in order to meet the demands of the future. 

Sustainable transportation refers to any form of transportation that is green in nature – One which doesn’t cause any emissions or pollute our environment. Some examples of sustainable transportation include walking, cycling, car pooling, public transportation, and use of electric vehicles. But when it comes to bigger cargo, sustainable transportation is not such an easy option. 

Why has it become so important to make transportation sustainable?

how to achieve sustainable transportation
photo credit: Unsplash

Let’s dig more into why we need to make business transportation (or even transportation in general) more sustainable before we understand some of the ways to make that happen.

Conventional transportation mainly uses fossil fuels – petrol, diesel, CNG – for their operation. As we already know, the problem with fossil fuels is that they emit harmful GHG emissions while they burn which contributes rifely to global warming.

In addition to these CO2 emissions, vehicle pollution also comprises nitrous compounds, particulate matter, and other volatile organic compound emissions, all of which are harmful for human health.

Another clear challenge linked to fossil fuels is their dwindling availability for the near future. Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy, which means once they are depleted, we won’t be able to use them ever again. Although fossils are naturally occurring substances formed beneath the earth’s crust, it took literally thousands of years for their formation, meaning; once they are gone, they can’t be replenished within anyone’s lifetime.

Adopting sustainable transportation is the way out of these problems…

Sustainable means of transportation provides benefits of reduced pollution, less emissions per person, and low costs. Using EVs such as electric delivery vans will majorly reduce harmful emissions and will also reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. Low to no emissions also mean reduced complications due to pollution related risks like asthma and allergy.

4 ways to achieve sustainable transportation within your business supply chain

photo credit: Unsplash

1. Adopting EVs for your business operations

EVs are a clean mode of transportation for the obvious reason that they don’t emit any emissions out of them. So, if you want to make your transportation environmentally friendly, choosing electric vehicles over conventional one’s for all of your business activities will greatly contribute to your goal.

In the UK, there are a number of companies that offer electric delivery bikes or vans for product/service delivery. To give you some names, Deliver-E, Bergamont, Raleigh and Ternbicycles are some of the popular players in this area. If you are a small business conducting local deliveries, electric bikes and vans are a great option. Larger delivery companies that use cycles regularly like Deliveroo and Just Eats would also benefit greatly from introducing their riders to an electric vehicle scheme. 

Along with E-bikes, there are also EV cargo vans and pickup vans from major manufacturers like Ford, Fiat, Renault, Citroen and others which prove useful for bulk deliveries and  various on-site services like plumbing, carpenting, electrical work, etc.

AI technology
photo credit: Unsplash

2. Using advanced tech – AI, Blockchain

We have the applications of advanced technologies like AI and Blockchain inside transportation that can help to make its operations more efficient and equally sustainable as well.

AI can assist in traffic management where data gathered from vehicles, passengers and freight transports can predict future congestion or traffic flow for better route planning and its optimization, which ultimately will reduce emissions and save costs.

AI can also help in forecasting demand of a product through insights from consumer’s buying history, and delivery and non-recipient of products which will help to create a streamline supply of products. This will allow on demand production of goods that’ll reduce waste and also transportation emissions and costs.

Likewise, blockchain technology, famous for its robust security due to its decentralised nature, offers ways to improve the current transportation ecosystem by allowing better secure and energy efficient payment methods, giving users more control over their data, and by eliminating substantial paperwork and middle-men, which ultimately also encourages more service providers to enter into the transportation market.

warehouse partner for sustainable transportation
photo credit: imdadalalam.com

 

3. Choosing like-minded partners

A supply chain is made up of a number of elements like your transportation and logistics, manufacturing facility. Your warehouses and the likes of, all work with  suppliers or partner companies that can make a difference to how sustainable your end-to-end process is. Each and every element or node in the supply chain emits some amount of carbon in one way or the other.  

What this means is you aren’t a one man island. You can’t achieve complete sustainability for activities related to your business unless those who are working with you share the same sustainability goals as you.

So, in order to make and keep your transportation sustainable, you need to choose suppliers and business partners who also encourage sustainable transportation methods.

One criteria to look out for is to choose companies that have been awarded with some sort of green business certification for their operations. There are many environmental certifications around the globe designated across different business sectors that signal their awards for eco-conscious practices.

what is a carbon footprint and how can we alter it with carbon offsets
photo credit: EU business news

4. Carbon Offsetting

A common way of reducing the carbon footprint of your transportation, or in fact of your whole business, is through carbon offsetting initiatives.

Carbon offsetting is where you compensate for your carbon emissions by funding green projects related to forest conservation, clean energy production and other green tech initiatives. But this doesn’t mean you have now a licence to emit more and more without any regret. 

As a responsible business, you should first work on reducing your emissions as much as possible from your side. Then, the remaining emissions that are out of your control, are best used in conjunction with a carbon offsetting scheme to help you reach and maintain your goals.

Summary

It’s high time that businesses take concrete steps to reduce their carbon footprint and make the planet a better place for our present and future generations. If you are a business that is looking to make your transportation and supply chain more sustainable, you can apply the above 4 ways to attain your bottom line.

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