Nearly all of the world’s corporations have sustainability initiatives in place, and many e–commerce brands are leading the way. For e–commerce companies, sustainability can take many forms: product materials sourcing, packaging, manufacturing, warehousing, delivery, and more. 

In this post, we discuss sustainable logistics, top sustainability trends, programmes by popular Carriers, and how to track CO2 emissions to help you meet your corporate sustainability goals.

What is sustainable logistics?

Sustainable logistics maintains the overarching goal of lowering the environmental impact of all logistical activities. Companies engaging in sustainable logistics typically seek to lower their CO2 emissions and accidents (such as chemical leaks). They might also focus on lowering air pollution, noise pollution, and light pollution, all of which can negatively impact people and wildlife. 

The logistics industry, which oversees supply chains and major operational activities by corporations, is taking a much bigger part in sustainability programmes than other industries or departments such as human resources or marketing.

While companies might have other sustainability initiatives in the works, logistics is the major player, as it has the greatest impact.

Sustainability logistics provides mechanisms to lower emission output and to balance negative output from factories and deliveries via positive tasks such as tree-planting and community involvement. 

For e–commerce companies, one of the top ways to reduce CO2 emissions is to partner with Carriers who are engaged in sustainable logistics.

Some Carrier programs utilize alternative jet fuels, truck fuels, and zero-emission last-mile deliveries with bicycles and electric cars. 

Sustainable logistics for e–commerce

Top logistics sustainability trends for e–commerce 

What are e–commerce companies doing to be more sustainable? These are the top sustainability trends for logistics. Since logistics refers to the purchasing, transferring, and delivering of goods, it’s important to pay attention to both your materials as well as how they’re stored and moved.

Warehouse design to minimize environment impact

Warehouse design is an important element of logistical sustainability. This can involve everything from installing solar panels to reducing water waste to improving the flow of picking and packing to minimize the usage of natural resources

Many e–commerce companies are engaging warehouse design services to help them spot weaknesses and opportunities to cut back on waste and emissions. 

Partner with sustainable suppliers

Changing suppliers is never a fun endeavor, especially if you like working with your current suppliers. 

However, this avenue might be worth exploring if you know that your suppliers don’t have sustainability initiatives in place. 

You should vet your suppliers for the following:

  • Sustainably sourced materials
  • Ethically sourced materials
  • Sustainable warehousing
  • Sustainable materials packaging

If your supplier isn’t sufficient in one of these areas, you could speak with them before switching to another supplier. For example, if your supplier uses too much plastic to wrap the materials they send you, or if they use non-biodegradable packaging peanuts, you could ask them to fix the issue. 

Use sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging is a top trend for e–commerce brands. We recently spoke with noissue, a sustainable packaging provider about how both branding, customer experience, and sustainability are important elements for packaging. 

How can you provide the perfect brand experience to customers opening up your packages while utilizing sustainable materials? 

Here are some popular options for sustainable materials:

  • Biodegradable packaging peanuts
  • Corrugated bubble wrap
  • Air pillows made of recycled materials
  • Cornstarch packaging
  • Mushroom packaging
  • Seaweed packaging
  • Recycled cardboard
  • Recycled paper
  • Organic fabrics
  • Recycled plastics

Provide green delivery options to customers

With ShippyPro Live Checkout, it’s easier than ever to provide multiple delivery options to customers. One such option is pick-up. Customers can go to a physical location, such as a secure locker or a store. By allowing customers to walk or bike to a nearby location, you can reduce the need for fuel-powered vehicles to drive door-to-door. 

Of course, when providing this option during checkout, you’ll want to include a note or tooltip explaining how this option reduces environmental impact.

Partner with sustainability-minded shipping Carriers

As an e–commerce company, you don’t handle shipping straight to the customers’ door. You partner with a Carrier, or several Carriers, based on the markets you sell to. 

You’re not in charge of delivery, so it’s not possible for you to control the Carriers’ fuel usage and how they organize last mile delivery. What you can control, of course, are the Carriers you partner with. 

Be sure to do your research and choose Carriers with sustainability initiatives that are bold and future-focused. Below, we showcase some example sustainability programmes from top Carriers. 

Communicating initiatives with consumers

Of course, a top trend with it comes to sustainable logistics is to share your efforts with your customers and potential customers. One-third of consumers will spend 25% more for products that are sustainable. Clarifying your sustainability initiatives could help improve conversion rates if your product is a little bit higher than competitors’. If it’s price is comparable, then your sustainability initiatives could increase the perceived value of your product.

Customers who continue to support a single brand will spend 67% more than new customers. Sustainability will continue to be essential towards driving brand loyalty with Generation Z, who make purchasing decisions based on sustainability more than any other generation of consumer. 

So how can you communicate these initiatives? Depending on your brand, you might communicate your commitment to sustainability nearly everywhere or in just a few key places. 

Here are some potential channels and places:

  • Social media profile descriptions
  • Checkout pages
  • Delivery options during checkout process
  • FAQ
  • About and company pages
  • Product pages

3 examples of Carriers’ sustainable programmes

As mentioned, partnering with sustainable Carriers can help you achieve your own company goals. 

These example programs can also inspire ways for you to update your sustainability goals and involve your employees in community and ecological projects.

DHL GoGreen

DHL’s GoGreen programme makes a bold goal: to have zero CO2 emissions by the year 2050. This means they want to reduce all of their logistics-related emissions by that year. 

They’ve set goals along the way towards reaching that larger goal. By 2025, the company plans to increase carbon efficiency by 50%, reduce air pollution by operation 70% of their first and last mile services with clean solutions like bicycles and electric cars, and certify 80% of employees as GoGreen specialists who will be involved in sustainability initiatives such as planting trees. 

Learn more about GoGreen here.

FedEx EarthSmart

EarthSmart is FedEx’s environmental sustainability programme. It includes three main pillars: innovations (better trucks and facilities), outreach (philanthropic endeavors and community construction projects), and work (getting employees involved with making sustainability contributions).

The company aims to measure environmental performance and increase the efficiency of how natural resources are used.

Goals include:

  • Reduce aircraft emissions by 30% by 2020
  • Increase vehicle efficiency by 30% by 2020
  • Get 30% of jet fuel from alternative fuels by 2030

Learn more about FedEx EarthSmart here.

UPS Sustainability

UPS has multiple sustainability measures in place, including donating to charitable organizations, contributing millions of volunteer hours, and planting millions of trees

The company has a goal to use 40% alternative fuel by 2025. UPS will also offset CO2 emissions by purchasing 250 million gallons of renewable natural gas. 

Learn more about UPS’s sustainability measures here.

Meet ShippyPro’s CO2 Impact API, the easy way to track CO2 

With ShippyPro’s CO2 Impact API you can calculate the carbon footprint of your shipments with just one API call, and you can collect data to support your sustainability strategy.

With these reliable data, you can keep track of your cumulative CO2 emissions. This can help you ensure that you’re offsetting this exact amount with your other initiatives, such as tree-planting or warehouse design. 

You can also keep track of this in order to gradually reduce these emissions as part of your green logistics strategy. 

CO2 Impact API is currently in Beta and is available to our Enterprise customers

Sign up for a free trial of ShippyPro, the complete shipping automation platform for your e–commerce, and be notified when CO2 Impact API is available to all customers in the spring of 2021!