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:
- Certification to green logistics standards. Assist the certification of firms and products to global environmental standards, which opens new market opportunities as well as improving the environmental impacts of the logistics sector. Common approaches concern the certified carriers (less 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 imply additional compliance and certification costs that could undermine competitiveness.
- Cold chain logistics. Develop capabilities to handle refrigerated cargo, which promotes high-value exports of perishables (fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc.) on global markets by meeting quality standards. The refrigerated container (reefer) has become the main vector of global cold chain logistics but refrigerated warehouses and vehicles are also of high importance. A major challenge is maintaining the integrity of the cold chain, which requires qualified labor, facilities, operations and monitoring equipment.
- Transloading facility / Platform. The provision of specialized facilities to load or unload commodities in containers, which promotes specialized commodity exports and expands market opportunities for small and medium-sized producers. For instance the global coffee and banana trades have almost been entirely containerized. The ubiquitous availability of containers in the global shipping market enables to take advantage of a large carrying capacity. However, commodity markets are often characterized by price fluctuations and the associated demand surges and busts.
- Reverse logistics. Develop recycling and re-use 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.