A shipping container with a cloudy sky, helping with the supply chain within the logistics industry.

The logistics industry is essential to worldwide trade and the transportation of goods across different regions, significantly influencing both economic performance and the state of the environment. Characterised by extensive networks of transport, storage and distribution, the logistics industry has historically been a major source of carbon emissions.

The emphasis on sustainability in logistics is prompted by a mix of regulatory requirements, societal expectations and the understanding that adopting sustainable operations has long-term economic advantages. For the logistics industry, this means there is a clear need to innovate, enhance efficiency and revise traditional methods to align with the expectations of a low-carbon economy.


The State of Logistics Sustainability in 2024

The influence of global sustainability aims, like the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, has been significant on the logistics industry. These global agreements have pushed the sector towards decarbonisation, highlighting the critical need for reducing emissions, enhancing energy efficiency and adopting sustainable supply chain methods.

Notable progress in sustainable logistics practices have been observed, including the integration of electric vehicles into fleets, the use of route optimisation software to cut down on fuel use and efforts to improve supply chain transparency and sustainability. There is a growing investment in renewable energy sources for storage facilities and operations, demonstrating a dedication to diminish the industry’s environmental impact.

Shifting towards sustainable logistics models presents a complex challenge. The industry encounters obstacles such as the substantial upfront expenses of clean technologies, the necessity for international standards for emissions measurement and reporting and the difficulty of applying sustainable methods throughout varied and complex supply chains.


Key Sustainability Trends in Logistics

Investment in ESG Projects

‘Green’ logistics stocks are less volatile, and hence less risky, and more profitable compared to ‘non-green’ logistics stocks.¹

The widespread dedication to ESG initiatives marks a significant period of transformation for the industry. This shift demonstrates an active effort by organisations to diminish their environmental impact. This movement is a part of a larger understanding within the industry about the role of sustainability in ensuring long-term business viability and resilience.

The Push for Electric Vehicles

Economic restrictions and subsidies are intended to drive EV market growth to more than 60% of vehicles sold by 2030.²

The provision of dedicated funds and support by governments and large corporations for initiatives like financing the installation of Electric Vehicle charge points has a significant impact on the logistics industry. This push towards electric vehicles in the automotive sector and supply chains brings about a reduction in carbon footprint.

The Urgency of Addressing Carbon Emissions

By 2050, global aviation and shipping together are anticipated to contribute almost 40 % of global carbon dioxide emissions unless further mitigation actions are taken.³

The anticipated rise in the logistics industry’s contribution to global emissions highlights its sustainability efforts. There is a need for the adoption of innovative solutions and practices, such as vehicle electrification, the use of renewable energy and optimising routes to substantially decrease the industry’s environmental impact.


Challenges to Sustainability in Logistics

The logistics industry is faced with challenges that cover technological, financial, regulatory and operational areas. Overcoming these challenges is important for the industry to adopt and carry out sustainable practices.

An obstacle in adopting sustainable logistics methods is the substantial initial investment needed for green technologies and infrastructure, such as electric vehicles and renewable energy systems. Concerns over the return on investment and the economic feasibility of these technologies may dissuade organisations, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises from making the necessary financial commitments. The difficulty in obtaining financing and justifying the ROI on sustainable investments impedes the industry’s shift towards more environmentally friendly practices.

Although advances in sustainable technologies present potential solutions for logistics, limitations in current technology and infrastructure, like the scarcity of EV charging stations and the capacity of renewable energy sources, obstruct widespread application. These issues hinder the logistics industry’s full transition to sustainable operations. Addressing technological and infrastructure shortcomings demands considerable investment in research and development and the enhancement of sustainable infrastructure. Cooperation among the logistics industry, technology providers and governments are important for progress and expandability.

The logistics industry is subject to a complicated and changing regulatory framework designed to encourage sustainability. However, inconsistencies and uncertainties in regulations and policies across different regions can make compliance and strategic planning challenging. To navigate these regulatory complexities, organisations need to stay informed about policy changes.

Implementing sustainable practices across complex and global supply chains is notably challenging. Achieving coordination and integration of sustainability efforts among various stakeholders demands dedication and effort. Standardising sustainability practices and metrics across supply chains can assist in overcoming these integration challenges.


Opportunities and Strategies for Sustainable Logistics

The drive towards sustainability in the logistics industry also offers significant opportunities for innovation. Through strategic planning and the utilisation of emerging technologies, the industry can achieve reductions in its environmental impact while improving operational efficiency.

Accelerating Electrification of Fleets

Strategy: Investing in electric vehicles for delivery and freight activities can lead to substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and lower operational costs tied to fuel consumption.

Opportunity: Government incentives for adopting EVs and the expansion of EV charging infrastructure, such as initiatives aiding small businesses to install charging points, create a favourable environment for logistics companies to switch to electric fleets.

Leveraging Data Analytics for Efficient Routing

Strategy: By examining large datasets on traffic patterns, weather conditions, and delivery timelines, companies can pinpoint the most efficient routes, thereby reducing fuel consumption and avoiding delays.

Opportunity: Employing intelligent routing algorithms boosts operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, in addition to supporting sustainability goals.

Investing in Sustainable Packaging Solutions

Strategy: Adopting sustainable materials and designs for packaging is a critical approach to lower the environmental impact of the logistics sector. This includes the exploration of biodegradable, recycled and reusable packaging alternatives that reduce waste and resource use.

Opportunity: Moving towards sustainable packaging meets the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products, decreases waste disposal expenses, and mitigates environmental effects.


Why do Logistics Organisations choose McGrady Clarke?

Logistics organisations select McGrady Clarke for our expert knowledge in decreasing energy expenses, adhering to environmental regulations and improving sustainability. We offer customised energy risk management strategies and life-cycle assessments to lower costs and improve operational efficiency. Our net-zero services assist logistics organisations in reducing their carbon emissions and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

Our services are specifically designed to cater to the unique requirements of the logistics sector, ensuring economic benefits while promoting sustainability. This positions us as a preferred partner for organisations aiming to enhance financial performance alongside environmental responsibility.



¹ Rodionova, M., Skhvediani, A., & Kudryavtseva, T. (2022). ESG as a Booster for Logistics Stock Returns—Evidence from the US Stock Market. Sustainability, 14(19), 12356. https://doi.org/10.3390/su141912356. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.

² Jagani, S., Marsillac, E., & Hong, P. (2024). The Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Ecosystem: Changing Roles of Automotive Suppliers. Sustainability, 16(4), 1570. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16041570. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.

³  European Environment Agency. (2018). Europe’s transport sector: Aviation and shipping face big challenges in reducing environmental impacts. Retrieved from https://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/europe2019s-transport-sector-aviation-and. Licensed under CC BY.