Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

International Journal of Logistics, vol.23, 3, p.407-423

DOI : 10.1108/IJLM-01-2013-0002


Purpose – 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.

Design/methodology/approach – 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.

Findings – 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. Originality/value – 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.