Cargo Compass Blog


Carbon Offset vs. Green Logistics: the Pros and Cons

Jun 18, 2019 2:12 PM

Companies today are going green. They know that’s what the Earth needs and what consumers want. Of course, going green has become a buzzword, but still, progress is being made. Over the past five years, 10% more companies have set water and carbon targets and the green house gas emissions coming from companies have gone down by 1%. And one of the top areas of business where companies are striving to make sustainable progress is with their logistics.

>>FREE CALCULATOR: find out how many CO2 in transports do you produce<<

The transportation industry, which includes not only the transport of people, but the transportation of source materials to the manufacturer and of goods to the consumer, makes up 29% of the greenhouse gas emissions (ghg) on the planet. If companies can target their logistics and their supply chain, the idea is that they can reduce their carbon footprint. There are currently two approaches to this – green logistics and carbon offset. Let’s compare the two and see which one, if any, holds more promise.

Green Logistics

Green logistics is the methods by which a company measures and minimizes the impact of how their products move through the supply chain, thus reducing their overall emissions. This includes all activities that move raw materials and finished products. There are many ways to green the supply chain, such as:

  • minimizing packaging;
  • ensuring distribution routes are efficient;
  • using biodegradable fuels;
  • pooling the distribution of goods;
  • implementing green energy solutions in factories and warehouses;
  • having a green return policy.

Clearly, green logistics holds a lot of promise and is not something companies can ignore. But it’s important to see the whole picture. With that in mind, here are the pros and cons of green logistics.

Pros of Green Logistics

  • Helps reduce the amount of emissions that enter the atmosphere.
  • Shows that a company is onboard and making an effort to go green.
  • Increases a company’s bottom line by bringing consumers and investors onboard and improving stock prices.
  • Helps the company attract and retain top talent.
  • Helps the company get involved in community initiatives.

Cons of Green Logistics

  • With the resources available to companies today, there is no way to completely eliminate emissions.
  • There are so many sources of emissions, it is a complicated procedure to reduce emissions in all areas.
  • Can be expensive upfront, although there can be savings down the road.
  • It takes time and a lot of effort to put green logistics into place.
  • There is uncertainty in terms of how the production of alternative fuels will affect the environment.
  • Cutting carbon emissions now, will slow the progress of climate change, but it will take a lot of time – hundreds of years – before we see the changes. It also does nothing to deal with the greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere.

Carbon Offset

As we mentioned above, no company can completely eliminate their carbon emissions. No matter what they do, they will be contributing to the accumulation of greenhouse gases and climate change. Fortunately, there is another option that will help a company go green despite their carbon emissions. It’s called carbon offset.

Carbon offset is a simple idea. A company contributes in some way to the reduction of carbon emissions to offset the emissions they are putting into the atmosphere. There are a few ways to do this, such as contributing to the development of alternative energy sources, but one of the best ways is through the purchase of trees that will be planted.

A forest acts as a natural carbon sink, sucking the carbon out of the atmosphere. The more trees there are, the less CO2 is in the atmosphere. If a company can pay for the planting of enough trees, particularly in urban areas, to cancel out the emissions they put into the atmosphere each year, they will have a neutral carbon footprint. Of course, no system is perfect. Let’s that a look at the carbon offsetting pros and cons.

Carbon Offsetting Pros

  • Helps quantify the damage being done by carbon emissions.
  • Proves a company’s intent to go green.
  • Helps the identify problem areas in the supply chain.
  • Helps business owners become more aware of what’s going on in their company and with its operations.
  • Gives incentive for business owners to spend their money wisely.
  • Helps old businesses that otherwise cannot meet emissions standards stay in business, until they can make the necessary changes to meet those standards.
  • Provides immediate benefits in terms of reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are currently in the atmosphere.

Carbon Offsetting Cons

  • It could cause a company to ignore the idea of reducing emissions.
  • There are a lot of programs out there that are not reputable, so it’s critical that a company do their due diligence.
  • There are fewer direct beneficiaries of carbon offsetting. Project developers tend to get left behind.
  • Getting the required permits for a carbon offsetting program can be a lengthy and complicated process.
  • Calculating a company’s total emissions is a complicated process.

Ideally, a company will strive for a balance of both green logistics and carbon offsetting. No company should avoid trying to lower their emissions just because they can offset those emissions. As a planet, we need to lower the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the atmosphere.

However, it is important that companies offset the emissions they do create. Otherwise, our environment will continue to deteriorate, and our climate will change irreparably. One of the biggest obstacles to using an offset program is calculating a company’s total emissions.

Fortunately, there are calculators out there that can do that for you. By using a CO2 emission calculator, you can take the guesswork out of your emissions calculation and know precisely how many offset credits you need to purchase.

If you want help calculating your company’s carbon emissions due to transportations, click here for our CO2 Emission Calculator.

Andrea Biasci
Written by Andrea Biasci