The logistics sector faced several challenges in 2020 with the unprecedented boom in online purchases, but a growing challenge for the sector is balancing its business goals with lowering emissions.

Global risk management provider, SAI Global has shared a straightforward strategic pathway for the sector to reduce its environmental impact.

While in 2020, the logistics sector balanced business objectives with social restrictions and biosecurity measures, 2021 and beyond will require a balance of business and carbon-reduction objectives, according to SAI Global environmental management systems expert, Saeid Nikdel.

“Government is leading the way, with various sustainable projects to emission-reduction goals in play, such as the NSW Government’s incentivisation of the private sector to switch to renewable energy with a goal to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2042, and the South Australian Government’s $60 million investment in energy-efficient Government buildings,” he said.

“Sooner or later, governments will act to ensure businesses take full responsibility for their environmental impact. Those businesses that have already begun a process of action that is ongoing, accountable and measurable will reach the standards required in the timeframes set out by any new legislation, and future-proof their brand.”

Australia’s transport emissions account for 19% of the country’s overall carbon emissions – a higher rate than the world-combined transport emissions of 15% – a recent whitepaper from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources revealed.

Saeid says a strategic pathway to providing reassurance that a business has set environmental goals, is accountable to those goals, and continually exceeds international benchmarks is certification to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. Certification ensures that logistics businesses are working to a results-focused environmental management system that is independently audited several times a year.

“Unlike carbon-reduction-specific certifications, ISO 14001 ensures businesses respond to all environmental issues – it helps improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and reduce energy costs. However, it is flexible and allows businesses to choose outcomes,” he said.

By certifying to ISO 14001, a business of any size can develop and implement policies to deliver environmentally responsible and sustainable business practices that meet international benchmarks. The standard ensures businesses follow a clear five-pillar approach:

  1. Businesses must understand external and internal factors that may affect their ability to achieve desired sustainability outcome. Objectives and timeframes can, therefore, be regularly updated to remain realistic and attainable.
  2. Organisational leaders must commit to the environmental strategy and management system implemented in their workplace and take accountability for its effectiveness. They must ensure regular reviews and refinements, sufficient resources, and environmental policies and objectives are clearly communicated. It is recommended that organisations appoint key executives to specific roles and responsibilities.
  3. Developing a robust environmental strategy takes careful planning to address any risks and opportunities within the industry and the organisation itself. A plan must outline environmental objects and steps to achieve them.
  4. The plan may include the redistribution of resources to ensure progress is made and that it is carefully monitored. A lifecycle process is recommended to plan, implement, and control processes and meet environmental requirements for its products and services. 
  5. The business should verify and evaluate the capabilities of the processes it has developed, including customer feedback.