Green Logistics. A critical view of the environmentally-friendly measures in the transport and logistics sector

Bachelor Thesis, 2016

58 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

1. Introduction
1.1. Purpose of the study
1.2. Differentiation
1.3. Objective
1.4. Structure

2. Definition of terms
2.1. An Introduction to Logistics
2.2. Definition of sustainability
2.3. Development and importance of the transport and logistics sector
2.4. Development of sales
2.5. The development of E-Commerce
2.6. The development of transport of goods
2.7. The impact of logistics on the environment

3. Basic Principles of Green Logistics
3.1. Definition and Demarcation
3.2. The development and importance

4. Green logistics concepts - All that glitters is not Green
4.1. Status quo
4.2. Balancing and standards
4.3. Environmental and climate balances
4.4. Arrangements for a greener Supply Chain
4.5. Energy-efficient vehicle technology
4.6. Critical View and Interpretation
4.7. Deutsche Post DHL

5. Conclusion

6. Summary and Outlook

Table of figures

Figure 1: Contribution of the various sectors to global greenhouse-gas emissions

Figure 2: Example of the three-pillars-model of sustainable development.

Figure 3: Revenue of Germany’s logistics sector

Figure 4: Conflict of aims between transport capacity and CO2 capacity

Figure 5: Development of Green Logistics

Figure 6: The impetus for the introduction of Green Logistics

Figure 7: Carbon trust icon

Figure 8: EMAS, components and requirements

Figure 9: EMAS Logo

Figure 10: Plan-Do Check-Act cycle

Figure 11: GoGreen Logo

Figure 12: The transport and handling related carbon emissions of GoGreen shipments

List of abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

In recent years, climate change and global warming were again and again big topics in politics, the economy and society. International debate about greenhouse gases as well as noise and fine dust pollution attracted considerable attention from the public. According to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) it becomes obvious that the causes of climate change are the greenhouse gases.[1] This has led to an increased awareness for environmental protection by the general public in relation to the importance for the current and the next generations.[2]

Due to various actions and events, for instance, the nuclear accident in Fukushima and flood disasters in central Europe, the topic of environmental protection has developed as an important element of the human action. In 1987 the World Commission of Environment and Development (WCED) published a report with the target of influencing a sustainable development in society, the international trade, political and economic sectors.[3] The essential reason for global warming is the way in which humans live their lives.[4]

In particular, in the western countries the way of life has changed drastically with the introduction of industrialization. The man of today wants to satisfy his needs as quickly as possible. To fulfil this consumer behaviour there is large demand for factories, machinery and vehicles. Therefore, large quantities of coal, oil and gas are burned resulting in a large amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). That is why the industrialised countries have to carry such a big responsibility when it comes to protecting the environment. Politicians and the economy are required to limit further increases in greenhouse gases. There is substantial scope to achieve this in the energy sector, transportation and heat generation.[5] In 1997 the industrialised countries involved committed themselves under the Kyoto Protocol to reducing emissions of climate-damaging gases. They agreed to reduce greenhouse gases in the period from 2008 to 2012 up to 5 percent. Individual countries identified different aims to achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions.[6] Germany committed to reduce greenhouse gases by an average of 21 percent, Great Britain by 12,5 percent, and Japan by six percent. However, Russia and France declined to commit to making any changes.

1.1. Purpose of the study

In the 1970’s the growth of awareness in the public that the logistics sector through the transport, logistics properties and the intralogistics has a major bearing on the environment was rapidly increased. Various studies for instance from the German commercial and industrial chamber Stuttgart confirmed that the growing development of air pollutants are triggered by the logistic service companies. This especially refers to the transport sector with a view to the worldwide rise in energy consumption and the CO2 emissions this entails.[7]

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2013 it was calculated that worldwide there were 32,1 billion tons of carbon dioxide (see chart 1). In the electricity and heat generation sector, 42 percent is to be found, 25 percent in the transportation sector, 19 percent industry and six percent of residential buildings. The figure below shows the share of worldwide CO2 emissions in the different sectors.[8]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Contribution of the various sectors to global greenhouse-gas emissions[9]

The figure above clearly shows that after the electricity and heat generation sector, the transport sector is producing the second highest worldwide CO2 emissions.[10] That means that the transportation of goods produces approximately seven billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. Furthermore 75 percent of the energy consumption is related to transport. Only 25 percent of energy consumption is caused by intralogistics and logistics properties. Thus most of the energy consumption and thereby the most produced greenhouse gases can be attributed to the transport sector.[11] This sector has a significant potential to improve the environment on a sustained basis. In order to fulfil this requirement there is a need for additional measures to further reduce the emissions.

The transport and logistics sectors try to shape their logistic services to be environmentally friendly to offer their customers and consumers ecologically valuable services and products. Furthermore, these sectors’ competiveness should be associated with a green image however it is acknowledged that balancing these pursuits is difficult. The general business economy is of the opinion that the economic and ecological considerations can go hand in hand, which means that the sustainable procurement approaches should not necessarily remain in competition with the aim of profit maximization.

1.2. Differentiation

This Bachelor thesis focuses on the logistics and transport sector because of their high environmental impacts especially in consideration of individual processes which are related to conventional transport processes. Nevertheless, the processes in the intra logistics should also be taken into account. As a sample, the German transport and logistics sector will be considered by the example of Deutsche Post DHL and its efforts to demonstrate compliance to environmental-friendly targets, because along the value chain different types of emissions arise. It should therefore be mentioned that it is not possible to deal with every single subrange.

In particular, the subject of the CO2 emissions will be especially highlighted because of its important contribution to the greenhouse effect. This Bachelor thesis in principle will cover the fields in context to the so-called “Green Logistics”. Because of the broad scope of this issue not all details could be taken into account.

1.3. Objective

The goal of this Bachelor thesis is to identify clearly if the measures of the logistics and transport sectors are just to improve their image or if they want to make a significant and real contribution to environmental protection. What is the main motivation for the implementation of environmental-friendly concepts by logistics companies? Are there really noble goals behind this movement or is it more based on the improvement of their public image? It will be furthermore analysed if the implementation of these ecological strategies come along with economic advantages. To be able to answer these questions, different exemplary “Green Logistics” concepts will be considered critically with a focus on the implementation of alleged environmental-friendly measures in the transport and logistics sector.

1.4. Structure

This Bachelor Thesis is composed of six chapters. The first chapter contains an introduction to introduce the core issue by a detailed description that comprises also the need why this topic has to be selected for further examination. It includes also the description of the main objective of this Thesis and the demarcation to related ranges of topics.

In the second chapter it will demonstrated how the Logistics sector has changed over the years, especially with view on its relevance and importance for the actual understanding of efficient supply and value added chain management. This will be substantiated by significant data and last but not least, the impacts of the logistics and transport sector on the environment will be pointed out and analysed.

At the beginning of the third chapter, the term Green Logistics will be defined. The chapter will provide also an insight into the development and the relevance of Green Logistics by taking also into account the environmental impacts of logistics services using the commitments to the environment of Deutsche Post DHL as example.

This is followed by an extensive examination of so-called Green Logistics concepts in the fourth chapter. Beginning with the status quo, the reader will be given an insight into balancing and related standards and their application by the relevant leading companies. Chapter five concludes with a critical view and the related conclusions of the findings of the exemplary chosen measures taken by Deutsche Post DHL concerning Green Logistics and gives the answers to the questions that were raised at the beginning of this Thesis. The sixth chapter contains a summary and an outlook of the issues that were examined in this Bachelor Thesis.

2. Definition of terms

2.1. An Introduction to Logistics

At the beginning to get an overview of logistics a detailed description of logistics shall be provided. In particular, the main tasks of logistics over the last few years were in transportation, and the storage and distribution of goods and commodities. On the basis of this key task logistics has developed into an industrial sector. Logistics is almost everywhere 365 days in the year up to 24 hours a day. Nevertheless, not all logistical operations are associated with logistics. However, it is noted that, within the economy sector, logistics is limited to sectors like transhipment, transport and storage. Logistics is rather more than that. It includes, in addition, the planning and management of material and information.[12]

The targets of logistics can be delineated with the so-called Seven-Rights-Definition of PLOWMANN. These are aimed to ensuring the availability of the right good in the right quantities in the right condition at the right place at the right time for the right consumer and at the right price.

Time showed that there might be an eighth definition about the targets of logistics, namely, to add the right information to the target definition. However, beyond these general aims, logistics pursues three main core objectives: the delivery capability, the maximizing of logistics’ support and the minimizing of logistics’ costs.[13]

In the literature various different definitions about logistics are in use. At this point it is important to refer to a comprehensive definition to describe logistics in detail. That is that logistics is,”[…] the planning, designing, processing and monitoring of storage and transport processes and the correspondence and the flow of information between and within the company. […]”[14]

2.2. Definition of sustainability

In 1713 the definition was characterized by the Saxon Oberberghauptmann Hans Karl von Carlowitz. In relation to forestry, in his work “Sylvicultura economica”, he claimed that the sustainability of forestry shall be settled. By that he meant that there a new tree should be planted for every tree felled. Thus the forests would be preserved for the future generations.[15] The thought from Mr. Carlowitz does not only apply to the tree population in the forests. The call for more proportionality can be used equally for other problems like overfishing in the oceans and also the preservation of biological diversity.[16] The best-known definition of sustainability originates from the World Commission on Environment and Development. In its final report from 1987, sustainable development is understood under the aspect of generation sustainability. A sustainable development is defined often as a way of meeting today’s needs without jeopardising the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs.[17]

Directly after the publication of the Brudtland Report, the topic of sustainability was reinforced into the centre of discussions and attracted considerable attention internationally. The first concrete “plan of actions” was developed in the Kyoto-Protocol in 1997 and it should provide a basis for the definition of strict CO2 reduction goals.[18]

In addition to this protocol, at the same environment conference, the three-pillar-system of sustainability was designed.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Example of the three-pillars-model of sustainable development.[19]

The goal is to enhance solutions for combining economic security, social justice and ecological balance to ensure the long-term sustainability of the world.[20]

The economic level is focusing on topics such as political and economic stability to ensure long-term revenue and thus ensure prosperity, which can be achieved by the economic potential of the country.[21] The social balance within and between generations represent the centre of the social level.

The ecological level claims a gentle and protective way to deal with nature up to consumption deprivation, to conserve natural resources and to maintain a clean environment for future generations. At the three levels of the three-pillars-model it should be taken into account that they cannot be considered separately. There are complex cause-effect relations between these components because the objectives of the different levels interact in different ways with each other. They can compete with each other, complement each other or be indifferent.[22]

The minimization of use of materials is an ecological objective in conjunction with the objective of profit maximization. This means that these objectives complement each other. In this case, a competing relationship could be profit maximization in conjunction with job security. Indifferent objectives do not have any influence on each other and are therefore completely independent.

It is therefore clear that the issue of sustainability is very complex and implies new challenges. Despite the long history of the definition of sustainability, in the light of the recent and actual discussions, the importance of climate protection is obvious.

2.3. Development and importance of the transport and logistics sector

The logistics sector is strongly linked with the internationalisation and globalisation of markets and trade flows. Thus there is needed a detailed overview of the German import and export performance of cross-border flow of goods.

As an export oriented country, Germany benefits from the positive economic climate over recent years.[23] As a result of economic globalization German imports and exports have both increased. Globalisation has not only caused the internationalisation of product processes but also the expansion of the whole world trade. The global value chain plays an increasing important role as it increases the cross-border flow of goods.[24]

In the first quarter of 2016 Germany imported goods to the value of 235,7 billion Euros and exported goods to the value of 294,8 billion Euros. According to the Federal Statistical Office imported goods increased by 2,4 percent and exported goods increased by 3,2 percent compared to the previous quarter.[25]

In 2015 Germany exported goods to the value of 1,195.8 billion Euros and imported goods to the value of 948 billion Euros.[26] There were 693,9 billion Euros transported to other EU Member States. A merchandise value of 502,03 billion Euros was exported to other countries.[27]

At the present time the internet enables users to get any item at any time. To fulfil these expectations, the transport and logistics sector plays an important role. The worldwide network makes it easier for the logistics service provider not only for the procurement, storage and delivery of the raw materials but also for the handling of consumer goods.

Due to modern supply chain, logistics connect humans and markets, an integration which is not less important than the World Wide Web. Logistics offers an unimaginable spectrum from shipping of trend articles up to an uninterrupted cold chain of e.g. pharmaceutical products.[28]

Logistics is a growing worldwide market in many sectors. This observation is based on the increasing turnover and development of goods’ transport. Emerging markets in particular and the BRIC countries will continue to play a major role. In those countries, the logistics markets will increase rapidly in the near future, which will lead to a closer networking of the global supply chain.[29]

2.4. Development of sales

Logistics is one of the most important and largest economic sectors in Germany after the automobile industry. In 2015 logistics employed about 4 million people and generated a turnover of approximately 256 billion Euros. The turnover in Europe was only five times more with 1.250 billion Euros. Thus the German logistics sector contribute around 20 percent of total sales.[30]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Revenue of Germany’s logistics sector[31]

The German logistics sector generates approximately 8,9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The logistics market had a balanced growth from 1995 to 2014. In 2009, because of the global economic crises in relation to the global demand for goods and services, the logistics sector had a slump in demand and profits but it recovered itself quickly. A positive outlook can be maintained for the coming years.[32]

Germany is furthermore a pioneer in infrastructure and technologies and it benefits also from its geographical position in the middle of Europe.[33] In addition Germany has well-developed federal highways, motorways, and rail networks as well as information and communication networks.

These enable the use of high-quality logistics services for the neighbouring markets.[34] The transport and logistics sector has grown since 2001 with a rate of 3.9 percent, twice as fast as the overall economy with 2.0 Percent.[35]

German logistics therefore has enormous importance in comparison to other European countries.

2.5. The development of E-Commerce

In the age of the Internet, online shops are a standard feature of our daily life. Due to uninterrupted growth of these online shops consumer behaviour has also undergone a fundamental change. The consumer of today wants more comfortable and flexible delivery options. Online retailers have to reply promptly to the demand to be successful.

Deutsche Post has also realized this requirement. In 2015 there were more than 1.5 billion packages sent through the Federal Republic, more than ever before.[36]

The enormous shipping volume depends not only on the purchased products, but also on the quantity of returns. Particularly in the field of textiles and shoes a high return quota can be stated. For instance, the online shop Zalando has up to 87 percent of their deliveries returned which means that nearly every second shipped product is sent back.[37]

From a study of TNS Infratest and Deutsche Post DHL it appears that about 61 percent of all those questioned do not want to forgo online-shopping. With such an expansion, online trade seems likely to continue to grow in the future. These offers at the same time chances and risks for the retailers especially those who do not want to adapt themselves to innovations.[38]

2.6. The development of transport of goods

At the present time tonnes of goods and products have to be carried over long distances. The imported and exported products reach their customers after a long process which has led to an increase of freight transport.[39]

Nowadays products from all over the world are available in wholesalers and retailers, which have travelled many kilometres before they reach the consignee. Germany procures most of its raw materials, vendor parts and finished products from abroad. Germany is the world’s leading export nation which causes a significant flow of goods and thus a big influence in the traffic of goods.

For the worldwide exchange of goods there is a need for a well-organized supply chain, which can be reached through differentiated and powerful logistics. These huge amounts of goods are transported via different ways of transport like trucks, ships, trains and planes.[40]

In the last 50 years the economy in Germany has kept on growing and this has consequently led to a strong growth in freight transport which came from the development of the overall economy. Beyond that, the ways of transport are more and more extended due to the globalisation.[41]

In 2015 in Germany 4,541 billion tonnes of goods were transported by trucks, ships, pipelines and planes. This means an average of 52 tonnes per inhabitant, which is equal to two truckloads. Each of these vehicles covered furthermore a distance of a minimum of 160 kilometres with a transport capacity of 639 billion tonne-kilometres.[42]

The volume of transport in 2015 compared to 2014 increased by 1,1 percent to 4,541.1 billion tonnes. The transit road transport, the railway transport and the air traffic volume were declining in contrast to sea transport and crude oil transport through pipelines which increased respectively. About 3,571.5 billion tonnes of goods were carried on the road which is 1,7 percent more than the year before but despite that the share of freight road transport with 77 percent in 2015 was by far the highest.[43]

Railway transportation had a growth of one billion tonnes.[44] The air traffic kept constant at 4.4 million tonnes. The inland navigation decreased by 3.2 percent to 221 billion tonnes. By contrast the maritime transport carried about 298 tonnes of goods which was an increase of 1.8 percent. Also on the rise was pipeline transport which rose clearly to 90.7 million tonnes. In 2015 overall the transportation of goods increased by 2.2 percent. This was due to long transport routes. From 2001 to 2015 the average transportation distance had a direct impact to the transport services.[45]

In 2015 the transportation output of 660,7 billion tkm was achieved, with an increase of 1.06 percent in contrast to the previous year. About 474.2 billion tkm were covered by road freight transport. Railway transport has a share of 114.3 billion tkm, inland navigation 59,1 billion tkm and pipeline transport 17.5 billion tkm.[46]

After the German reunification the transport volume increased up to 55 percent with respect to the GDP growth.[47] Road transport especially was able to benefit from the reunification. In 1980 only 50 percent of goods were transported by trucks. Nowadays trucks have reached a share of 70 percent of the freight transport.[48] In Germany there are in fact 2,801 million trucks on the roads.[49]

2.7. The impact of logistics on the environment

At the present time when politicians, media and environment organizations are talking about recognizing global climate change and global warming, the fact is that the increase of greenhouse gases is caused by human activity. However they often forget to take into account that the “natural greenhouse effect” is vital for the existence of life, because if sunrays were not converted to heat by certain gases in the atmosphere the average temperature would not be +15° Celsius but rather -18° Celsius.[50]

In contrast to the natural greenhouse effect, “anthropogenic emissions”, in other words emissions which are caused by human intervention, lead to a disequilibrium of the heat budget of the earth.[51]

According to the experts on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the anthropogenic emissions and especially the production of the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) are the cause of the dramatic temperature rise in the earth’s atmosphere.[52] Other greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), fluorocarbon (HFCs) and hydrocarbon (PFCs) are the most critical gases for global warming. Thus, for the first time, the international community is backing the goal of keeping the global rise in temperature below two degrees Celsius. In order to avoid a further temperature rise, the output of carbon dioxide must be reduced by 2050 in comparison to 1990.[53]

That is why there are discussions in many economic sectors about how to reduce greenhouse gases in the future. The transport and logistics sector must also ask this question itself because its high transportation volume is in the focus of political actions[54] because 22 percent of the worldwide CO2 emissions are caused by the transport sector.[55]


[1] Cf. Flannery, T., Wir Weltmacher. P. 277.

[2] Cf. Keuschen, T.; Klumpp, M., Grüne Logistik. P. 15.

[3] Cf., 15.08.2016.

[4] Cf., 15.08.2016.

[5] Cf. ibid.

[6] Cf., 15.08.2016.

[7] Cf., 01.08.2016

[8] Cf., 03.08.2016.

[9] Own presentation – based on. Cf., 26.07.2016.

[10] Cf., 19.08.2016.

[11] Cf., 19.08.2016.

[12] Cf., 19.08.2016.

[13] Fortmann, K.; Kallweit, A., Logistik 2.0, P.20.

[14] Cf. ibid.

[15] Cf. Spitz, B., Nachhaltigkeit in der Logistik, P. 15.

[16] Cf., 29.07.2016.

[17] Cf. ibid.

[18] Cf. Spitz, B., Nachhaltigkeit in der Logistik, P. 16.

[19] Cf., 02.08.2016.

[20] Cf. Spitz, B., Nachhaltigkeit in der Logistik, P. 17.

[21] Cf. Large, R., Nachhaltigkeit und Logistik, P. 484.

[22] Cf. Spitz, B., Nachhaltigkeit in der Logistik, P. 19.

[23] Cf. Werner, H., Supply Chain Management, P. 40 f.

[24] Cf. Kuhn, A., Hellingrath, B., Supply Chain Management, P. 10.

[25] Cf., 05.08.2016.

[26] Cf., 05.08.2016.

[27] Cf., 05.08.2016.

[28] Cf., 07.08.2016.

[29] Cf. Heinrich, M., Transport und Lagerlogistik, P. 10 f.

[30] Cf., 07.08.2016.

[31] Own presentation based on: Heinrich, M., Transport und Lagerlogistik, P. 19.

[32] Cf. ibid.

[33] Cf., 07.08.2016.

[34] Cf., 10.08.2016.

[35] Cf. Heinrich, M., Transport und Lagerlogistik, P. 8.

[36] Cf., 11.08.2016.

[37] Cf., 11.08.2016.

[38] Cf., 11.08.2016.

[39] Cf., 11.08.2016.

[40] Cf., 11.08.2016.

[41] Cf. , 12.08.2016.

[42] Cf., 12.08.2016.

[43] Cf., 12.08.2016.

[44] Cf.ütertransport-über-die-schiene-wächst-2014-und-2015-um-knapp-3, 12.08.2016.

[45] Cf., 12.08.2016.

[46] Cf., 12.08.2016.

[47] Cf., 12.08.2016.

[48] Cf. ibid.

[49] Cf., 12.08.2016.

[50] Cf. Schmied, M.; Knörr, W., Klimaschutz in der Logistik, P. 10.

[51], 21.08.2016.

[52] Cf. Cf. Schmied, M.; Knörr, W., Klimaschutz in der Logistik, P. 10.

[53] Cf. Cf. Clausen, U.; Thaller, C. Wirtschaftsverkehr, P. 12.

[54] Cf. Schmied, M.; Knörr, W., Berechnung von Treibhausgasemissionen in Spedition und Logistik P. 14 ff.

[55] Cf., 13.08.2016.

Excerpt out of 58 pages


Green Logistics. A critical view of the environmentally-friendly measures in the transport and logistics sector
Cologne University of Applied Sciences  (Schmalenbach)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
2063 KB
Green logistics
Quote paper
Aryan Tayefeh Noruzi (Author), 2016, Green Logistics. A critical view of the environmentally-friendly measures in the transport and logistics sector, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Green Logistics. A critical view of the environmentally-friendly measures in the transport and logistics sector

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free