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Who controls transport emissions and who cares? Investigating the monitoring of environmental sustainability from a logistics service provider’s perspective

Fredrik Ralf Nilsson (Department of Design Sciences, Division of Packaging Logistics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Henrik Sternberg (Department of Design Sciences, Division of Packaging Logistics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Thorsten Klaas-Wissing (Department of Logistics Management, University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 14 August 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the environmental impact of logistics service provider (LSP) activities in the light of customer priorities and the fragmentation of the road haulage industry in Europe. It also explores the extent to which LSPs can actually monitor the environmental impact of logistics activities in the supply chain (SC).

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based on a narrative literature review, an interview study, a case survey and three in-depth case studies. A framework on sustainability challenges in SCs, derived from the literature, is used to structure and analyse the findings.

Findings

Despite the ambitious environmental schemes communicated by several LSPs, they show little interest in, and exert little control over, the actual emissions generated from their transport operations. It is clear from the results that any real concern from customers for environmental solutions which negatively influence the cost and time requirements of logistics services is not yet a reality.

Research limitations/implications

This paper implies that LSP sustainability cannot be investigated in isolation if a company does not manage its proprietary resources (like owning trucks and employing drivers), but rather engage subcontractors.

Practical implications

Environmental policies among different LSPs appear to be similar as policies, but differ in practice. This variation of practices emphasises the importance of follow-up control by environmentally aware buyers of logistics services.

Originality/value

This paper represents a novel approach as to how LSP environmental policies should be viewed. It highlights the concrete need for action to achieve the environmental targets of 2020 and 2050 for carbon emissions from road transportation.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Maisam Abbasi for his contribution in the first study of this research as well as the reviewers for valuable comments.

Citation

Nilsson, F.R., Sternberg, H. and Klaas-Wissing, T. (2017), "Who controls transport emissions and who cares? Investigating the monitoring of environmental sustainability from a logistics service provider’s perspective", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 798-820. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-11-2015-0197

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited