Green Logistics

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute for Transport Studies

Abstract

Logistics involves the movement, storage and handling of products as they travel from farms, factories and ports to the shops. These activities are essential in economic terms, but can have a damaging effect on the environment. Freight transport in particular is a significant source of air pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, accidents, noise and vibration. This research programme will examine a range of ways of reducing its environmental impact, many of which will also cut the cost of distribution. It will begin by reviewing previous research on this subject in the UK and other countries. It will also try to forecast how much worse the environmental effects of logistics will become if nothing new is done to address the problem.The main part of the programme will comprise a series of separate, but inter-linked, modules focusing on measures that companies can adopt to make their logistical operations more 'green'. Some of the measures would be introduced at a high level and require changes to the way that production and distribution is structured. Others would affect day-to-day operations by, for example, optimising the route a vehicle follows when making deliveries. We will use a framework which shows how all these measures could work in combination to make logistics more sustainable in both economic and environmental terms. It can also help to prioritise those measures that are likely to yield the greatest net benefit.Specific modules will look at ways of improving the use of lorries, rescheduling deliveries to avoid peak periods and integrating different modes of transport (road, rail, sea and air). Within towns and cities opportunities exist for reducing the negative environmental effects of various developments, such as the rise of internet shopping and home delivery leading to growing use of small vans. Increasing attention is also being paid to the need to recycle and recover products at the end of their life and thereby reduce the quantity of resources that ends up in waste tips. It is important to find sustainable ways of transporting, storing and processing waste product. To achieve greater sustainability in logistics we must improve our understanding of the trade-offs between economic and environmental objectives and grasp opportunities created by new technologies. These include such things as the tagging of products with microchips, the satellite tracking of vehicles and buying and selling of freight transport services on the internet. Over the four year programme we will identify and evaluate a range of measures and technologies with the assistance of a group of partner companies which are heavily involved in various aspects of logistics. Different forms of research will be used, including postal surveys, interviews with managers, 'focus group' discussions, pilot projects and computer modelling. Information gained by these means will be accessible to researchers on a website. The programme will improve our technical capability to collect and analyse information about 'green logistics'. It will also provide answers to some of the critical questions facing companies and governments that wish to make the distribution of goods more economically and environmentally sustainable.

Publications

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Allen J (2012) Survey Techniques in Urban Freight Transport Studies in Transport Reviews

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Cherrett T (2012) Understanding urban freight activity - key issues for freight planning in Journal of Transport Geography

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Edwards J (2010) Comparative analysis of the carbon footprints of conventional and online retailing A "last mile" perspective in International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

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Harris I (2011) Assessing the impact of cost optimization based on infrastructure modelling on CO2 emissions in International Journal of Production Economics

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Harris I (2014) A hybrid multi-objective approach to capacitated facility location with flexible store allocation for green logistics modeling in Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review

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McLeod F (2011) The scope for joint household/commercial waste collections: a case study in International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications

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Sanchez Rodrigues V (2008) Establishing a transport operation focused uncertainty model for the supply chain in International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

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Sbihi A (2009) Combinatorial optimization and Green Logistics in Annals of Operations Research

 
Description The 'Green Logistics' project has provided greater understanding of how freight and logistics activities can be made much more sustainable without adversely affecting economic performance. There has been a major emphasis on carbon reduction. Early work reviewed the current situation and previous research in freight and logistics sustainability. The outputs from this work are published as the 'Green Logistics' book (Kogan Page, 2012).



Using a range of triangulated research methodologies within an overarching framework established in previous research, and working with major players in the industry, we have demonstrated that the logistics sector can broadly achieve established targets for carbon reduction through a set of strategies and policy measures, though this will be challenging.



Through analysis of carbon footprints we have shown that road freight can achieve 80% reduction in CO2 through a radical but feasible set of efficiency measures. Substantial research into enhanced systems of routing and scheduling shows that moving freight operations to less congested times can reduce CO2 by between 5 and 10%. Increased use of double-deck lorry trailers can also contribute to CO2 reduction. The trends towards home shopping and home delivery can lead to CO2 reduction under certain conditions. The greater use of e-commerce business-to-business applications will also lead to CO2 reduction. Significant improvements can be made to 'reverse logistics' systems used for waste, recycling and 'take-back' operations, for example by integrating household and commercial collections where possible.



Research into freight mode choice using an enhanced econometric model has identified that charging transport operators their full marginal social costs would lead to 28% more rail freight, offering a 14% reduction in road and rail freight CO2. This is supported by qualitative research which has identified significant opportunities for rail in commodities such as food and drink.



We have gained considerably improved understanding of the problems of urban freight movement, and of light commercial traffic in particular. Policies for reducing such problems have been evaluated, and the effectiveness of the system of Freight Quality Partnerships has been appraised.



Whilst successful implementation of the measures evaluated in this project are estimated to allow freight transport to make a very substantial contribution to the attainment of agreed UK carbon reduction targets, this will require major co-coordinated efforts by all stakeholders and will require significant reconfiguration of supply chain structures and operations.



Methodologies enhanced in the course of the work include carbon footprinting, freight forecasting and modelling methods, routing and scheduling and the use of focus groups. A new approach to the impact of uncertainty on supply chain efficiency has been developed and tested.



Research has been disseminated effectively. 18 refereed journal papers have been published, with more to follow and there are many other outputs. The website www.greenlogistics.org provides accessibility to research papers and reports. This has received large numbers of visits and downloads and is now migrated to the Heriot-Watt website for continuity.



6 stakeholder dissemination events have focused on the key research themes. The 2010 World Conference on Transport Research featured a track on our work, and the 2010 Logistics Research Network Conference, hosted by the lead partner and badged as a 'sustainable logistics' event, was attended by some 120 mostly academic delegates from some 15 countries. These have proved effective vehicles for the project partners to disseminate their findings.
Exploitation Route Published information on effectiveness of various potential 'green logistics' initiatives will help practitioners to appraise their sustainability strategies
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail,Transport

 
Description No direct practical implementations known of. A range of findings have been disseminated via academic and other publications both during and since the grant period.
First Year Of Impact 2006
Sector Transport
 
Description Cardiff University
Amount £1,960 (GBP)
Organisation Cardiff University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Cardiff University
Amount £1,960 (GBP)
Organisation Cardiff University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £255,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H020179/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £32,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I501126/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £255,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H020179/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £5,025 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I501193/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Keystone Distribution Limited
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Organisation Keystone Distribution Limited 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Keystone Distribution Limited
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Organisation Keystone Distribution Limited 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Oxfam GB
Amount £18,000 (GBP)
Organisation Oxfam GB 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Oxfam GB
Amount £18,000 (GBP)
Organisation Oxfam GB 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start