In order to cut the costs of third-party logistics companies and respond to the Chinese government’s low-carbon economy plans, this paper studies the more practical and complex open vehicle routing problem, which considers low-carbon trading policies. A low-carbon multi-depot open vehicle routing problem with time windows (MDOVRPTW) model is constructed with minimum total costs, which include the driver’s salary, penalty costs, fuel costs and carbon emissions trading costs. Then, a two-phase algorithm is proposed to handle the model. In the first phase, the initial local solution is obtained with particle swarm optimization (PSO); in the second phase, we can obtain a global optimal solution through a further tabu search (TS). Experiments proved that the proposed algorithm is more suitable for small-scale cases. Furthermore, a series of experiments with different values of carbon prices and carbon quotas are conducted. The results of the study indicate that, as carbon trading prices and carbon quotas change, total costs, carbon emission trading costs and carbon emissions are affected accordingly. Based on these academic results, this paper presents some effective proposals for the government’s carbon trading policy-making and also for logistics companies to have better route planning under carbon emission constraints.
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