Best practices in logistics sustainability

This story first appeared in the Quarter 1/2023 edition of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly,
a journal of thought leadership for the supply chain management profession and a
sister publication to AGiLE Business Media’s DC Velocity.

Long gone are the days when corporate sustainability was seen as a concern chiefly for companies that branded themselves as “green” or “socially conscious.” Corporate sustainability has now become mainstream in both the service and manufacturing sectors. 

Since 2000, there has been much published in both the academic and business press on various logistics sustainability topics.1 Some of that published work includes case studies of companies that initiated ways to reduce energy consumption or waste,2 emit lower levels of pollution,3 increase recycling or reuse of products and packaging,4 and “do more with less.”5 In some instances, companies themselves have published guides to sustainability for use by others to develop their own sustainability programs. For example, Nike has created a guidebook on the principles of circular design, supplemented by case studies from itself and other companies, and makes it freely available on its website.6

The volume of material published on sustainability in the supply chain reflects what the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation & Logistics and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) found after conducting multiple surveys of thousands of logistics and supply chain professionals: Companies are feeling pressure from many stakeholders to become more sustainable.7 One of the key takeaways from the research is that sustainability is becoming more common as a part of the duties and responsibilities of many logistics and supply chain professionals. Other research studies have further supported the results of the MIT studies.8

After combing through this published work and conducting company interviews of our own, we sought to provide a collection of best practices for sustainability in logistics. (See sidebar,
“About this study.”) For this article series, we chose those practices that we felt could be implemented by multiple organizations and accomplished within a brief period of time and/or at a reasonable cost. 

As sustainability is …


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