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On its way to the customer: a container stacker passes on the goods in the logistics chain.
© Zeppelin Baumaschinen GmbH
Reducing CO2 emissions starts with product development
08.05.2012

“Green” logistics lowers costs and reduces environmental impact

As part of the research project “Green Logistics Target Costing”, the International Performance Research Institute (IPRI) has developed a software tool and a guideline for “green” low-emission logistics. The results of the project will allow the chemical industry and engineering companies to take the CO2 emissions in logistics into consideration during product development, and to organise logistics processes based on cost information.

According to the researchers, it is important that the planning of green logistics takes place during product development, because that’s when transport, handling and warehousing processes are planned. This way, a majority of the associated costs and emissions will be determined at this early stage. The development of competitive products with green logistics processes means that customer benefit, costs and emissions have to be looked at as a whole. To this end, the IPRI is developing a planning process based on target costing. Its main focus is on the identification of eco-efficiency potential that reduces both cost and emission. Planning takes into account customer benefit, attainable product price including green logistics, as well as costs and emission throughout the product life cycle.
Two years into the project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the validated results are available. The “Green Logistics Target Costing” method uses a software demonstrator based on Excel. The main target groups are engineering companies, the chemical industry, logistics service providers and manufacturing companies.

Lower greenhouse gas emissions through improved transport routes

When it comes to everyday consumer items in particular, ecological logistics can contribute to the eco-friendliness of individual products. Scientists at Universität Regensburg have identified three main factors that influence the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the transport sector: the number of warehouses the manufacturing company has, the network of the logistics company that deals with distribution and the individual shipments.

More warehouses means less emission

The scientists from Regensburg showed that CO2 emission is reduced the more warehouses a manufacturing company has. Just converting from a one-warehouse strategy, initially designed to optimise costs, to a two-warehouse strategy reduces overall CO2 emissions by more than 3.4 per cent.
The customer density of certain distribution areas also determines greenhouse gas emissions: when choosing a logistics service provider, companies should above all take into consideration what their network is like. Larger deliveries, i.e. better capacity utilisation, tend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To be recognised as “green”, companies should adjust and change their distribution network appropriately.

Guideline for calculating greenhouse gas emissions

In 2011, the Öko-Institut together with the Association of German Freight Forwarders and Logistics Operators (DSLV) and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (Ifeu) has developed a guideline for the “calculation of greenhouse gas emissions in the freight and logistics sector”. The guideline provides basic information about climate protection and climate balance and shows shipping companies how to calculate their own fuel and power consumption. Using practical examples, the guideline introduces conversion factors and calculation formulas that can be used to determine the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for specific transport routes in a standardised way. The standardised methodologies to measure the CO2 emissions generated by transport presented in the guideline are based on the CEN draft standard “Methodology for calculation and declaration on energy consumptions and GHG emissions in transport services (good and passengers transport)” (prEN 16258:2011). The CEN draft standard is designed to standardise calculation methods throughout Europe and thus represents an important basis for the guideline.

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Guideline "freight and logistics"
Öko-Institut e.V.

Guideline "freight and logistics"
ifeu Heidelberg GmbH