There’s Nothing Silly About Sustainability

The growing importance of environmental sustainability has caused demand for new innovative initiatives with purchasing transport and logistics services. This article surveys the growing trend among 3rd Party Logistics Companies (3PLs) to kindle eco-friendly and sustainable policies. Additionally, the articles addresses some of the initiatives 3PLs are taking to ensure a cleaner and greener supply.

In the past, many companies had a limited interest in the supply chain’s overall sustainability. According to an A McKinsey study in 2008, a little above 20% of companies surveyed actually considered climate change in their procurement and supply chain decisions. However, that number has increased to more than 70% as 3PLs learn the impact of environmental issues on the supply chain processes. Regulations, rising transportation costs, and buyer pressure catalyzed this awareness. These drivers have compelled businesses to rise up as big actors in the sustainability movement.

Logistics and fulfillment companies generate substantial amounts of waste from foam coolers, boxes, shrink wrap, dry ice, ice packs, etc. These need to be disposed of in an environmentally conscious as well as cost effective manner. While these companies initially aim to better their image, they often end up reducing costs or creating new businesses in the process. They also learn to develop systems that allow sustainable initiatives to yield good business results. Some of the things 3PLs can do to be more sustainable/eco friendly include:

Use recycled packaging

Waste management is vital to saving the environment. It signals that the company is responsible and determined to secure the future through recycling. Such a company has embraced the need to drastically reduce greenhouse gasses, conserve natural areas for wild life and resources and so on. Environmentally-friendly and economical, recycling provides a very sustainable process for packaging or shipping materials. This reduces the need for new materials to be produced and lowers environmental impact.

Biodegradable foam

Traditional packing peanuts contain polystyrene or Styrofoam. These packing peanuts hardly decompose. However, biodegradable foam peanuts are made from nontoxic sources, dissolve in water and do not possess electrostatic charge which means they don’t stick to clothes. Increasing awareness of environmental safety has made 3PLs switch from the traditional polystyrene peanuts to biodegradable foams; a more eco-friendly alternative.

Buy Carbon Credits

Carbon Credits allow 3PLs to invest in environmentally sustainable projects that help to offset the amount of carbon emissions produced. Businesses pay cash for certain Carbon Credits which is then invested in an external business or project that offsets carbon emissions. In this way, companies can purchase carbon neutrality without decreasing their actual emission.

Some quick fixes

Purchasing carbon neutral dry ice, installing energy efficient lighting, LEED certification, regular equipment maintenance and so on.


Most 3PLs adopt sustainable/eco-friendly initiatives due to pressure from customers, employees, competition, corporate image,IMG_1922social responsibility among other reasons. However these policies have long lasting benefits such as lowering costs, reducing emissions and energy consumption and improving productivity through the supply chain and supply chain processes. These improvements can make a big impact, even larger than the impact high oil prices have on the network. Departments in the supply chain that would benefit from sustainability initiatives include Network Optimization, Facilities, Packaging, Fleet Management and Collaboration.

Please feel free to leave a comment, and of course, be sure to check out some of our other articles such as “Possibilities With Perishable Shipping!”