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Exploring logistics-related environmental sustainability in large retailers

Maria Björklund (Department of Management and Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Helena Forslund (Department of Accounting and Logistics, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden)
Maria Persdotter Isaksson (School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 11 January 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore and illustrate ways in which the world’s largest retailers describe their logistics-related environmental considerations, their environmental indicators applied to measure the effects of these considerations and their environmental consciousness in their CSR reports.


Classification models are developed via a literature review on logistics-related environmental considerations, indicators and consciousness. A content analysis approach is then applied to examine CSR reports from 12 of the world’s largest retailers.


Few retailers show environmental considerations in all logistics activities, but purchasing is especially well described. Even if many retailers claim to use the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, no one uses is completely. Judging consciousness from CSR reports raised a number of questions.

Research limitations/implications

A contribution to theory is the development of two classification models. The first provides a description structure for environmental considerations related to logistics activities. The second expands the GRI indicator framework by incorporating a structure for logistics activities.

Practical implications

The classification models developed can be an important mean for managers and also consumers to judge the environmental sustainability of retailers by their CSR reports.

Social implications

The study makes a social contribution with its input on sustainability and especially environmental issues.


Few studies have focused upon environmentally sustainable logistics in retail chains, and even fewer address how to measure environmental sustainability in this context.



Björklund, M., Forslund, H. and Persdotter Isaksson, M. (2016), "Exploring logistics-related environmental sustainability in large retailers", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 44 No. 1, pp. 38-57.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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