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The Shades of Green in Retail Chains’ Logistics

Sustainable Logistics

ISBN: 978-1-78441-062-9, eISBN: 978-1-78441-061-2

Publication date: 4 December 2014



This study aims to illustrate how retail chains with a green image align sustainable logistics actions, logistics measurements and contracts with logistics service providers (LSPs), and to develop a classification model that allows for a description of the various shades of green within companies.


We carried out a multiple case study of four retail chains with a green image operating in the Swedish market, collecting empirical data from the retail chains’ sustainability reports and home pages and conducting interviews with logistics, transportation and supply chain managers.


Based on the literature, we developed a classification model for judging green image, green logistics actions, green measurements and green contracts. The model is used to illustrate the different shades of green found within the respective retail chains. A green image seems well-aligned with green logistics actions. However, there are more levels to judge, and the measurement systems are not sufficiently developed to track green logistics actions. Contract handling is more developed among retail chains than measurements, which is positive, as this is a way of ensuring that LSPs are involved. In our classification model, greenwashing can be judged in a more nuanced way, delving deeper under the surface.

Research limitations/implications

The provided classification model adds to our knowledge and illustrates the alignment within companies’ sustainable logistics. The robustness of the model can be strengthened by applying it to a larger number of cases and by continually validating its content and evaluation criteria.

Practical implications

The study’s main practical contribution is the classification model, which may potentially serve as a method for managers to easily judge the green alignment of a retail chain’s logistics.


Few empirical studies capture how retail chains measure environmental logistics performance, and even fewer concern contracts stipulating the environmental demands placed on LSPs.



Björklund, M. and Forslund, H. (2014), "The Shades of Green in Retail Chains’ Logistics", Sustainable Logistics (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 83-112.



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