Promoting Sustainable Logistics

Coordination and Implementation of National Logistics Policies Promoting Sustainable Logistics

There are several tools behind the setting of national logistics policies. Developing sustainable niche logistics activities with infrastructures and services promoting unique comparative advantages, including green logistics strategies, often represents an overlooked potential. The most common strategies involve:

  • E.1. Green logistics standards. Assist the certification of firms and products to global environmental standards and certification schemes, which opens new market opportunities as well as improves the environmental impacts of the logistics sector. Common approaches concern the certified carriers (fewer emissions; energy efficiency) and certified distribution facilities (energy efficiency; lower footprint). All of the above reduces the material and energy losses associated with logistics but implies additional compliance and certification costs that could undermine competitiveness.
  • E.2. Decarbonization. A generic strategy focusing on removing carbon emissions by the transportation sector, mostly through a shift to fuels that emit less carbon, such as natural gas, or carbon-free fuels, such as hydrogen or electricity. Common approaches concern supporting research and development of low-carbon transport technologies, subsidizing preferred low or non-carbon fuels, supporting the setting of alternative distribution and fueling networks, and scaling out high-carbon emission fuels and vehicles through regulations. This risk is that the desired option is picked up by policy, which may turn out to be unsustainable and could impose high costs and regulatory burdens.
  • E.3. Circular economy / Reverse logistics. Develop recycling and reuse capabilities within supply chains, enabling the recovery of recycled materials. This can help expand the national recycling industry and meet sustainability goals. However, recycling usually implies additional costs that may be uncompetitive with national or international resource providers. A circular economy approach is more complex as it tries to support, particularly through regulations, the sharing of assets, and the reuse and recycling of components as part of a comprehensive sustainable strategy.