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Optimising end-to-end maritime supply chains: a carbon footprint perspective

Patrick Rigot-Muller (Marine Science and Technology, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK)
Chandra Lalwani (Hull Business School, Hull University, Hull, UK)
John Mangan (Marine Science and Technology, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK)
Orla Gregory (School of Management, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland)
David Gibbs (Logistics Institute, Hull University, Hull, UK)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 1 November 2013




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate an optimisation method, and resulting insights, for minimising total logistics-related carbon emissions for end-to-end supply chains.


The research is based on two real-life UK industrial cases. For the first case, several alternative realistic routes towards the UK are analysed and the optimal route minimising total carbon emissions is identified and tested in real conditions. For the second case, emissions towards several destinations are calculated and two alternative routes to southern Europe are compared, using several transport modes (road, Ro-Ro, rail and maritime). An adapted Value Stream Mapping (VSM) approach is used to map carbon footprint and calculate emissions; in addition Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) data provided information for vessel specification allowing the use of more accurate emission factors for each shipping leg.


The analysis of the first case demonstrates that end-to-end logistics-related carbon emissions can be reduced by 16-21 per cent through direct delivery to the UK as opposed to transhipment via a Continental European port. The analysis of the second case shows that deliveries to southern Europe have the highest potential for reduction through deliveries by sea. Both cases show that for distant overseas destinations, the maritime leg represents the major contributor to CO2 emissions in the end-to-end supply chain. It is notable that one of the main apportionment approaches (that of Defra in the UK) generate higher carbon footprints for routes using Ro-Pax vessels, making those not optimal. The feasibility of the optimal route was demonstrated with real-life data.


This research used real-life data from two UK companies and highlighted where carbon emissions are generated in the inbound and outbound transport chain, and how these can be reduced.



This is the first of four articles based on papers presented at the 17th International Symposium on Logistics ( held in July 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. The conference saw over 75 papers presented, a shortlist of 17 papers was drawn up and the authors invited to submit extended versions for peer review in this journal. Of the four papers accepted, all build around the conference theme of “New Horizons for Logistics and Supply Chain Management”. This paper has been guest edited by Dr Andrew Potter and Dr Seamus O’Rielly.


Rigot-Muller, P., Lalwani, C., Mangan, J., Gregory, O. and Gibbs, D. (2013), "Optimising end-to-end maritime supply chains: a carbon footprint perspective", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 407-425.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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