Logistics operations are energy-consuming and impact the environment negatively. Improving energy efficiency in logistics is crucial for environmental sustainability and can be achieved by increasing the utilisation of capacity. This paper takes an interactive approach to capacity utilisation, to contribute to sustainable freight transport and logistics, by identifying its causes and mitigations. From literature, a conceptual framework was developed to highlight different system levels in the logistics system, in which the energy efficiency improvement potential can be found and that are summarised in the categories activities, actors, and areas. Through semi-structured interviews with representatives of nine companies, empirical data was collected to validate the framework of the causes of the unutilised capacity and proposed mitigations. The results suggest that activities, such as inflexibilities and limited information sharing as well as actors’ over-delivery of logistics services, incorrect price setting, and sales campaigns can cause unutilised capacity, and that problem areas include i.a. poor integration of reversed logistics and the last mile. The paper contributes by categorising causes of unutilised capacity and linking them to mitigations in a framework, providing a critical view towards fill rates, highlighting the need for a standardised approach to measure environmental impact that enables comparison between companies and underlining that costs are not an appropriate indicator for measuring environmental impact.
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