Is the Term Green Logistics an Oxymoron
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Over recent years there has been increasingly more pressure from the public and the government on organisations to decrease the environmental impact of their logistics operations. The distribution of products impairs air quailty, produces noise and vibration, causes motor vechicle accidents and contributes significantly to global warming through greenhouse gas emmisions. The term ‘green logistics’ describes attempts by organisations to minimise the environmental impact of logistic activities (Rodrigue, Slack and Comtois, 2001). Therefore, green logistics would imply environmentally friendly and efficient transportation and distribution systems. The paradoxes of green logistics make it challenging for organisations become greener (Rodrigue, Slack and Comtois, 2001).
However, the term ‘green logistics’ is not an oxymoron, as this report will explain that through greener transport, green procurement and reverse logistics, companies can reduced their environmental impact thus achieving green logistics, and therefore it is not an oxymoron. The report will also look as how Fujitsu have implemented green logistic concepts and activities. Green logistics” can be perceived as having the same objectives of logistics, whilst at the same time minimising environmental impact of the logistic activities. Therefore, green logistics reflects an organisation’s use of resources sparingly, ability to reduce waste and improve efficiency of operations, and satisfy the society’s expectation for environmental sustainability. (Lai and Wong, 2012). Green Transportation
One way logisticians can achieve green logistics is by ‘greening’ transportation. “Transportation is the single largest environmental hazard in a logistics system” (Wu and Dunn,1995, p. 32), therefore in order to attain ‘green’ logistics, organisations need to make decisions which minimise the quantity of transport Co2 emissions. McKinnon, Browne and Whitening (2012) proposes logisticians can minimise transport Co2 emissions through changes in the mode of transport, reducing transport demand, and the way vehicles are utilised. To make transportation more environmentally friendly, logisticians can decrease use of road transport to more environmentally friendly options as well as increasing the use of alternative fuels other than petroleum products which release toxic substances into the air, thus reducing air quality (Pazirandeh and Jafari, 2013).
Instead of just switching to more environmentally friendly transportation, logisticians can also decrease the number of trips by consolidating loads and balancing backhaul movements (Wu and Dunn, 1995). This can be enabled by timely and accurate information systems and innovative management which helps reduce vehicle emissions and ease traffic congestion by utilising more efficient loading, scheduling and routing options (McKinnon, Browne and Whitening, 2012). If logisticians were to implement these improvements, transportation would become more environmentally friendly, thus achieving the objective of green logistics. Green Procurement
Another way in which green logistics can be achieved is through ‘green procurement’. Mulder (1998, p.123) defines green procurement as “taking supplier environmental products and process performance into account when purchasing products and services”. Green procurement strategies revolve around two significant components, “the evaluation of suppliers’ environmental performance and mentoring to assist suppliers improve this performance” (Rao and Holt, 2005, p. 901).
Green procurement in regards to logistics, involves evaluating transport providers’ environmental sustainability performance as well supporting these providers to enhance their environmental sustainability performance. This involves the concept of supplier development, as the buyers need to work on environmental issues with the supplier in order to reduce environmental impacts of transportation vehicles, and in doing so meet customers’/societies’ expectations and therefore reducing costs (Walton, Handfield and Melnyk,1998). This shows that ‘green logistics’ can be achieved through the green procurement of environmentally friendly vehicles as well as working with suppliers to improve their sustainability performance. Reverse Logistics
Logisticians can also achieve ‘green logistics’ through reverse logistics operations which is designed to reuse products or dispose of them correctly, therefore reducing waste in the system. Rogers and Tibben-Lembke, (2001, p.130) define reverse logistics “as the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the efficient, cost effective flow of materials, in process inventory and finished goods, and related information from the point of consumption to the point of origin, the purpose of recapturing value or proper disposal”.
Efforts that reduce this reverse flow are considered part of reverse logistics as they reduced the total amount of waste in the supply chain. Reverse logistics approaches include returns management, product repair/refurbishment, recycling of products and materials as well as the correct disposal of unwanted products. Figure 1 illustrates the product flow in reverse logistics and the principles of reverse logistics i.e. substitute, reduce, recycle and reuse (Wu and Dunn, 1995). All these reverse logistic approaches diminish the total quantity of waste in the supply chain and therefore can be used by logisticians in order to achieve green logistics.
Fujitsu and ‘Green Logistics’
Fujitsu is an example of a company that has implemented green logistics and has seen positive results. Fujitsu implemented green logistics due to government pressure and the Japanese Energy Conservation Law 2006, which required organisations to increase efforts to protect the environment in their logistical activities (i.e. green logistics). Fujitsu focused on making logistics more efficient by rationalising distribution centres, reducing transportation distances, promoting modal transportation shifts (see appendix, figure 3), simplifying routes, and reducing the truck fleet (Dukovska-Popovska et al. 2011)In doing this Fujitsu was not only able to reduce costs which highlights the benefits, but was able to reduce Co2 emissions (see appendix figure 2) whilst still completing logistic activities, thus achieving the aim of green logistics, and therefore green logistics is not an oxymoron.
In order to achieve ‘green logistics’ they implemented the concept of green procurement through the ‘Fujitsu Group Green Procurement Standards’ which sum up Fujitsu’s views on green logistics and its detailed requests to suppliers. The aim of these standards is to encourage green logistics processes with their suppliers and with the groundwork provided by these standards, strengthen supplier relations and reduce the environmental burden associated with distribution on the supply chain (Dukovska-Popovska et al. 2011) Figure 4 and 5 (see appendix) demonstrate how Fujitsu have implemented principles of reverse logistics in order to achieve green logistics. By reusing and recycling products Fujitsu in not only able to reduce cost but also reduce the total amount of waste in the supply chain, therefore achieving green logistics. Conclusion
With continued pressure from the government and society, preserving the environment whilst trying to achieve economic growth will become increasingly important to organisations. Logisticians overcome the paradoxes of logistics and develop integrated initiatives which address environmental concerns from all aspects of the organisation. Fujitsu has demonstrated that green logistics can be achieved through changes in transportation, green procurement and reverse logistics and is therefore not an oxymoron.
Figure 1 – Reverse logistics in the logistics system – Reduce, Substitute, Reuse and Recycle (Wu and Dunn, 1995).
Figure 2 – Illustrates that Fujitsu has reduced their Co2 emissions by 32% which exceeded their target of 15% (Fujitsu, 2014).
Figure 3 – Illustrates the modal transportation shift (i.e. From plane to more environmentally friendly options such as rail) that Fujitsu has taken in order to achieve green logistics (Fujitsu, 2014).
Figure 4 – Fujitsu’s reusable packaging which customers can return to Fujitsu once they have received their product (Fujitsu, 2014).
Figure 5 – Fujitsu’s collecting old CDs/DVDs for reuse and recycle and use in manufacturing components (Fujitsu, 2014).
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