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Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2022) | Viewed by 36994

Special Issue Editors

Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Polytechnic University of Milan, 20156 Milan, Italy
Interests: sustainability in logistics and in supply chains; warehousing and warehouse energy efficiency; ICT supporting logistics and freight transport; logistics 4.0; multichannel logistics
Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Polytechnic University of Milan, 20156 Milan, Italy
Interests: supply chain sustainability; supply chain risk management; ecoresilience; industry 4.0 and logistics 4.0; citation network analysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past 40 years, the world has experienced a steady increase in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, considered the main factor responsible for climate change. The improvement of the level of companies’ supply chain sustainability is deemed to be a fundamental strategic action toward the achievement of the goals of sustainable development. In fact, logistics and supply chain activities are responsible for at least one third of energy consumption and one third of GHG emissions. To mitigate these impacts, it is important to take a systemic approach to a transformational change of our supply chains, from production to distribution, to make them more sustainable. The impact of logistics and supply chains on sustainability should not be tackled just from an economic and environmental perspective, but also from a social perspective, which includes issues related to work conditions, employability, and equality.

New managerial paradigms can be the enabling factors of this transition, to develop appropriate mindset, skills and competences, and managerial practices within organizations. As such, sustainability has started to become more and more of concern among both academics and practitioners also in the field of logistics and supply chain management. Although studies have progressively increased, this arena still offers multiple interesting research directions that deserve adequate consideration. Specifically, it is essential that research produces investigations able to shed light on how sustainability is approached by businesses and how organizations can build more sustainable supply chains.

The aim of this Special Issue is to provide valuable insights into Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains, with a specific interest in methods, empirical evidence and applications, simulations, as well as conceptual frameworks. Papers are particularly invited in the following areas:

  • Sustainable supply chain practices;
  • Green initiatives in logistics operations;
  • Green warehousing and warehouse energy efficiency;
  • Sustainability in transport and last mile delivery;
  • Sustainability implications of Logistics 4.0, automation and digitalization;
  • Impact of e-commerce and omnichannel logistics on sustainability;
  • Social sustainability in logistics and supply chains;
  • Assessment methods, modeling, and simulation for sustainability in logistics and supply chains;
  • Performance measurement for sustainability in logistics and the supply chain.

Dr. Sara Perotti
Dr. Claudia Colicchia
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • supply chain
  • logistics
  • warehousing
  • material handling
  • transport
  • logistics 4.0
  • digitalization
  • e-commerce logistics
  • last-mile delivery
  • energy efficiency
  • environmental sustainability
  • economic sustainability
  • social sustainability

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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20 pages, 3235 KiB  
Article
A Dynamic Analysis for Mitigating Disaster Effects in Closed Loop Supply Chains
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 4948; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14094948 - 20 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1359
Abstract
The increased level of complexity in the case of Closed Loop Supply Chains (CLSCs) turns them into vulnerable systems under a disaster event. The latter calls for a methodological approach that allows a dynamic study under alternative policies in mitigating the disaster effects [...] Read more.
The increased level of complexity in the case of Closed Loop Supply Chains (CLSCs) turns them into vulnerable systems under a disaster event. The latter calls for a methodological approach that allows a dynamic study under alternative policies in mitigating the disaster effects with a focus on creating sustainable CLSCs. For this reason, we provide a System Dynamics (SD)-based analysis for disaster events on the operation of CLSCs. By “disaster event”, we mean three different categories taking shape on the basis of duration. Furthermore, three different demand patterns emerging due to the disaster event are examined. We assume that the disaster event affects the manufacturer, and we examine the system response under different mitigation policies. For each demand pattern two different mitigation policies at the manufacturer level are examined by considering the total CLSC profit and demand backlog as measures of policy performance. For each combination, extensive simulation experimentation reveals sustainable policy recommendations under alternative settings regarding the reduction in the manufacturer’s production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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30 pages, 1245 KiB  
Article
Theoretical Perspectives on Sustainable Supply Chain Management and Digital Transformation: A Literature Review and a Conceptual Framework
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4862; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084862 - 18 Apr 2022
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 11130
Abstract
In an era where environmental and social pressures on companies are increasing, sustainable supply chain management is essential for the efficient operation and survivability of the organizations (members of the chain). Digital transformation and the adoption of new technologies could support the development [...] Read more.
In an era where environmental and social pressures on companies are increasing, sustainable supply chain management is essential for the efficient operation and survivability of the organizations (members of the chain). Digital transformation and the adoption of new technologies could support the development of sustainable strategies, as they support supply chain processes, decrease operational costs, enable control and monitoring of operations and support green practices. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between sustainable supply chain management and digital transformation through the adoption of specific technologies (Blockchain technology, big data analytics, internet of things). It aims at theory building and the development of a conceptual framework, enabling the explanation of under which circumstances the above combination could lead to the development of sustainable performances. It also aims to examine how companies can increase their competitive advantage and/or increase their business performance, contributing both to academics and practitioners. After conducting a literature review analysis, a significant gap was detected. There are a few studies providing theoretical approaches to examining all three pillars of sustainability, while at the same time analyzing the impact of big data analytics, internet of things and blockchain technology on the development of sustainable supply chains. Aiming to address this gap, this paper primarily conducts a literature review, identifies definitions and theories used to explain the different pillars of flexibility, and examines the effect of different technologies. It then develops a theoretical conceptual framework, which could enable both academics and practitioners to examine the impact of the adoption of different technologies on sustainable supply chain management. The findings of this research reveal that digital transformation plays an important role to companies, as the combination of different technologies may lead to the development of significant capabilities, increasing sustainable performances and enabling the development of sustainable strategies, which can improve companies’ position in the market. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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16 pages, 1135 KiB  
Article
An Analytic Model for Estimating the Economic and Environmental Impact of Food Cold Supply Chain
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4771; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084771 - 15 Apr 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2012
Abstract
Cold chain management has gained increasing interest among practitioners, researchers and academics; similarly, sustainability is also proving to be an increasingly critical topic in all supply chains and in cold chains in particular. In line with this, this study proposes a model to [...] Read more.
Cold chain management has gained increasing interest among practitioners, researchers and academics; similarly, sustainability is also proving to be an increasingly critical topic in all supply chains and in cold chains in particular. In line with this, this study proposes a model to estimate the economic and environmental impacts in a food cold supply chain (FCSC). The model intended to estimate the total cost and CO2 emissions of a company operating in the cold supply chain, was carried out in Microsoft Excel™. Specifically, the model reproduces the main FCSC processes, i.e., Product collection, Backroom storage, Product delivery and Reverse logistics. For each process, we have exposed the implemented equations. Results show that the product delivery process is the most critical in both economic and environmental terms. Conversely, product collection and reverse logistics process contribute to the total cost and emission to a limited extent. The results obtained provide useful guidelines for supply chain managers to undertake operation decisions aimed at decreasing the economic and/or environmental impact of a FCSC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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20 pages, 914 KiB  
Article
Environment Sustainability Is a Corporate Social Responsibility: Measuring the Nexus between Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Big Data Analytics Capabilities, and Organizational Performance
Sustainability 2022, 14(6), 3379; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063379 - 14 Mar 2022
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 5191
Abstract
Sustainability has profound implications for environmental competitiveness, yet little has been done to study the feasibility of sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) practices as a predictor of organizational performance (operational and environmental performance). By integrating stakeholder theory and dynamic capability theory, this study [...] Read more.
Sustainability has profound implications for environmental competitiveness, yet little has been done to study the feasibility of sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) practices as a predictor of organizational performance (operational and environmental performance). By integrating stakeholder theory and dynamic capability theory, this study aims to determine the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on SSCM practices and assess its impact on organizational performance. This research also investigates the role of big data analytical capabilities (BDAC) in mediating the relationship between SSCM practices and organizational performance. The authors collected data online, examined 320 valid responses, and tested research hypotheses. The findings suggest that CSR (both internal and external CSR) positively promotes SSCM practices and contributes to expanding dynamic capacity theory in the context of BDA capabilities. BDAC is also a key mediator between SSCM practices and organizational performance. These results contribute to and improve the research on stakeholder theory and SSCM practice and provide a new perspective for scholars to further study this issue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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15 pages, 1710 KiB  
Article
Green Warehousing: Exploration of Organisational Variables Fostering the Adoption of Energy-Efficient Material Handling Equipment
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13237; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313237 - 29 Nov 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2303
Abstract
The lithium-ion battery (LIB) represents a useful lever for reducing material handling equipment’s (MHE) environmental impact. The exploitation of opportunity charging might improve LIB adoption, which is still prevented by the high investment cost. Since opportunity charging is affected by the system organization, [...] Read more.
The lithium-ion battery (LIB) represents a useful lever for reducing material handling equipment’s (MHE) environmental impact. The exploitation of opportunity charging might improve LIB adoption, which is still prevented by the high investment cost. Since opportunity charging is affected by the system organization, the relationship between LIB and organizational variables is a meaningful work direction to reduce warehouses’ environmental impact, which is underrepresented by the current literature. The present paper aims at filling this gap by investigating the implications of organisational variables on LIB adoption in warehouses where handling activities are performed with forklift trucks. Based on an in-depth review of the literature and semi-structured interviews, the research presents an input-process-output model linking organisational variables and LIB forklift related costs with an application to a real case. This paper is original as it extends findings from the research fields of production and mobility to the warehouse arena, and it opens room for further research on warehouse sustainability. The paper also offers insights to warehouse managers making decisions about LIB adoption for their electric forklift fleets. This is particularly meaningful to reduce warehouse environmental impact, since MHE power source significantly contributes to greenhouse gases emissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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13 pages, 3000 KiB  
Article
Sustainable People Home-Work Logistics: An Integrated Model of Circular Economy in the Chiampo Valley
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12009; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112009 - 30 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1742
Abstract
Logistics activities, e.g., transportations of goods and people, are responsible for at least one-third of energy consumption and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. About 70% of them are related to people’s mobility, with millions of cars moving every day. The people home-work logistics [...] Read more.
Logistics activities, e.g., transportations of goods and people, are responsible for at least one-third of energy consumption and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. About 70% of them are related to people’s mobility, with millions of cars moving every day. The people home-work logistics represents undoubtedly an important part of it since flows are concentrated on fixed time windows (beginning, lunch break, and end of the working day) creating huge traffic congestions and negative impacts on time, economics, and the environment. This study proposes an integrated model, summarized through a methodological framework, where three actors (companies, public administrations and local shops) work together aiming to economically incentivize the use of sustainable mobility systems. Three are the main elements of the proposed sustainable people home-work logistics model: (1) the economic self-sustainability of the incentives, funded in different ways by the actors, (2) the scalability, thanks to the possibility to add new territories to the project and (3) the territorial circular economy generated thanks to the incentive’s destinations and the public-private integration. Starting from survey questionnaires and territorial attributes, sustainable mobility ways are defined. Then, participant workers are monitored by activating a mobile app, called Ecoattivi, during their home-work journeys. In such a way, workers can directly analyze their sustainable mobility and reach the possibility to accumulate and spend money in local shops as a function of the saved CO2. On the other hand, companies and public administrations compete in a special ranking for sustainable mobility. The methodological framework has been applied to a real case study in the Chiampo Valley, in the northeast of Italy, where about 10 small towns and dozens of companies in 2020 started the “Bike to Work Valchiampo” project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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19 pages, 4493 KiB  
Article
Decarbonizing the Cold Chain: Long-Haul Refrigerated Deliveries with On-Board Photovoltaic Energy Integration
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8506; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158506 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2461
Abstract
Decarbonizing the cold chain is a priority for sustainability due to the increasing demand for chilled/frozen food and pharmaceutics. Refrigerated transport requires additional fuel for refrigeration other than for traction. Photovoltaic panels on the vehicle rooftop, a battery bank, and a power conversion [...] Read more.
Decarbonizing the cold chain is a priority for sustainability due to the increasing demand for chilled/frozen food and pharmaceutics. Refrigerated transport requires additional fuel for refrigeration other than for traction. Photovoltaic panels on the vehicle rooftop, a battery bank, and a power conversion system can replace the diesel engine driving the transport refrigerated unit. In long-haul deliveries, vehicles cross zones with different climate conditions, which affect both refrigeration requirements and photovoltaic energy conversion. Mandatory driver’s breaks and rest also affect delivery timing and energy consumption. A multiperiod, multizone optimization model is developed to size the onboard photovoltaic system, based on features of the delivery tour. The model is applied to a palletized chilled food delivery from North-Eastern Italy, showing a payback time of around four years, which can drop under two years for expected reduction of component costs. Economic and environmental performances can be increased by also allowing refrigerated products on-board during the return journey, leading to more fuel savings. Photovoltaic-integrated long-haul delivery for frozen products is not convenient at current market costs. Different climate conditions are tested, showing the model ability to act as a decision support tool to foster renewable energy penetration into the cold chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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Review

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14 pages, 2478 KiB  
Review
Design of a Sustainable Last Mile in Urban Logistics—A Systematic Literature Review
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5501; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095501 - 03 May 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3902
Abstract
This paper provides a systematic and up-to-date review and classification of 87 studies on green last-mile business for sustainable management. In particular, the most important study areas and results are highlighted and an outlook on future research opportunities in the field of sustainable [...] Read more.
This paper provides a systematic and up-to-date review and classification of 87 studies on green last-mile business for sustainable management. In particular, the most important study areas and results are highlighted and an outlook on future research opportunities in the field of sustainable stock management is given. Sustainability in logistics depends on many factors, and elementary differences in the orientation of the logistics sector can bring further challenges. This is shown by the number of published papers. This paper examines the literature that does not focus on courier, express or parcel delivery (CEP). For this purpose, a systematic literature search was conducted on the topic of sustainability in the last-mile business. Publications for the period from 2014 to 2021 were identified as significant. It becomes clear that the logistics industry must further differentiate itself to be able to act in a future-oriented manner. The effects of the logistics industry and the technologies used in it have far-reaching consequences for social coexistence and should therefore be included. Challenges lie not only with logistics companies, but also with consumers and government authorities. In the paper it becomes clear that the logistics concept of the last mile is applied in all forms, but the research area of one-person delivery or two-person delivery is on a different level. Here, the concept of two-person delivery will be pursued further, as it functions similarly to a CEP service provider, but the framework conditions differ greatly. The two-person loading system makes it possible to transport large and bulky goods such as furniture without the risk of damage during delivery. Furthermore, the specifics of sustainable management of the last mile as well as the limits of the topic are discussed. This should stimulate future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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23 pages, 2001 KiB  
Review
Management and Logistics of Returnable Transport Items: A Review Analysis on the Pallet Supply Chain
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12747; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212747 - 18 Nov 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 5104
Abstract
Pallets are among the most used returnable transport items (RTIs), and they are critical assets for a supply chain as they have significant environmental and economic impacts during their whole life cycle. Differently from other packaging products, pallets are specifically designed to be [...] Read more.
Pallets are among the most used returnable transport items (RTIs), and they are critical assets for a supply chain as they have significant environmental and economic impacts during their whole life cycle. Differently from other packaging products, pallets are specifically designed to be repeatably repaired and reinjected for use. While this environmentally is beneficial as it reduces waste, it can create complex interactions between the stakeholder-involved manufacturers, pallet providers, users and recyclers. Further, the number of different actors is usually high, and the flow of materials among them needs to be coordinated. In addition, different business models can be implemented (such as internal management versus outsourcing) as well as logistics alternatives (closed- versus open-loop). Thus, the aims of this study are first to propose a systematization of design and management decisions regarding the pallet supply chain; next, to review the state of the art models and tools adopted to support each decision process relying on an analysis of the archival literature published between 1978 and 2021 on pallet management, to summarize the main decision problems addressed by the different stakeholders involved in the pallet life cycle and the adopted methods, and, finally, to highlight potential existing research gaps. This effort helps to outline potential contributions towards more sustainable pallet supply chains and can support pallet operators and companies in evaluating solutions to increase the economic and environmental sustainability of their pallet management. Results show that the perspectives of the pallet provider and of the supply chain are the most widely addressed in the existing literature, while those of pallet manufacturers and repairers should be further analyzed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Logistics and Supply Chains)
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