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Environment in Focus - the Green Revolution in Logistics

Currently, logistics causes more than 5.5 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide and it is on the increase too. That is why logisticians are now focusing on the issue of environment. This presents logistics with some chances but at the same time it is a challenge: Innovative sustainable technologies, logistics systems and sustainable procurement make a decisive contribution to upholding the competitiveness of companies and create new business fields. However, these are faced by regulatory measures as well as higher investment costs.

The issue of carbon dioxide emissions is the main driving force behind innovations. Increasing carbon dioxide emissions are presently the most pressing environmental problem. Politics, local authorities and consumers call for ecological concepts and products. Climate protection targets have to be reached. In fact, there is a lot of potential for economizing on carbon dioxide in logistics: worldwide it is estimated at 30 percent and includes measures in the areas of automotive and engine technology, traffic rerouting and energy-efficient logistics premises.

With this new self-perception logistics considers itself as a pioneer for new technologies particularly in the area of environment and resources protection and this is an integral part of the EffizienzCluster. Nevertheless, awareness for green logistics has yet to be established in many companies. There is a fear of intervening in existing, well-functioning systems; there is a lot of doubt as to whether investment in green logistics will actually pay off.

Limited infrastructure and/or the shortage of resources cause more and more companies to think positively about the implementation of environmentally friendly and resource-saving logistics. Therefore, it is time to develop appropriately marketable concepts, solutions and products right here. For time is pressing: logistics companies, but also the manufacturing industry and trade in international markets have already started to consider the issue of sustainability for themselves. For that reason, Western companies have to use the advantage their knowledge currently gives them in order to market sustainability at an international level today before other companies catch up.

Levels of Innovation

This key topic creates conditions so that companies are given the opportunity to become aware and to control their influence on the environment. That enables them to act in a more environmentally friendly way in future. First of all, methods for quantifying and evaluating resources and energy consumption have to be created for logistics services and approaches for optimization have to be identified. This will result in business models and products that facilitate sustainable management and operations which are also attractive for companies – in the following fields:

  • Development of solutions which conserve resources, are environmentally friendly and sustainable along the entire logistics chain from procurement, storage and distribution through to reverse logistics
  • Standardized evaluation of the ecological effects of logistic processes and systems according to the polluter-pays principle
  • Strengthening the know-how and certification of company competences in the field of sustainability
  • Sustainable concepts and intelligent use of technology for maintenance.

Environmentally friendly behavior leads to a continuous improvement process in companies, developing new markets and achieving cost reductions.

Potentials of this Key Topic

Protection of resources and environmental friendliness means there must be a “glocal” attitude to adding value: local and regional processes have to be adjusted to global developments, production processes have to be combined with each other in a sensible way – i.e. eco-efficiently. One promising strategy is to have production sites which also have complementary production of goods or services that don’t produce any “waste”. This, in turn, leads to a demand for logistics concepts that support such independent centers. Further future issues for green logistics include the emerging growth markets outside Europe as well as the closed loop recycling business.

The key topic of Environment in Focus considers itself to be an innovation hub for all other key topics in the EffizienzCluster by providing methods for environmentally friendly logistics along the entire value added chain.


Eco-efficient solutions in logistics reduce carbon dioxide emissions and secure the future viability of companies: Eco-friendliness and the conservation of resources will become obvious success factors in future, just as quality is today.

Contact person

Dr.-Ing. Marc Schneider


Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics

Phone: +49 (0) 231 97 43 443



Dr. Nikolaus Obwegeser


EBS Business School-Institute for Supply Chain Management - Procurement and Logistics (ISCM)

Phone: +49 (0) 611 71 02 21 20


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