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Motivation and purpose

The limited receptiveness of our ecosystems, the shortage of raw materials and the resulting cost pressure from it, as well as, varying political and social basic conditions lead to a fundamental change of our economic processes. Businesses must increase the resource efficiency of their products and design more sustainable and eco-friendly systems and processes, in order to be competitive in the long term.

»The transport and logistics sector with a share of 23% of the CO2 emissions worldwide, bears a special responsibility in the fight against climate change – 35% of it are alone caused by goods transportation« (IPCC).

Scientific studies agree that the increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed the tolerance limit of the global climate system and – should the warming of the earth's atmosphere caused by this, reach the critical threshold of 2° Celsius by the end of the 21st century – lead to unforeseeable consequences. At the same time the shortage of fossil resources and the resulting cost pressure confronts the whole logistics industry with the challenge to overcome its dependence, especially from petroleum. In the field of climate protection and energy efficiency the Federal Government pursues ambitious goals: Greenhouse gas emissions should sink till 2020 by 40% as compared with 1990, and the economic energy productivity should double in the same period. At this, logistics can make a decisive contribution. Technological, organizational and processual innovations are required for this, which enable logistics companies to further improve their eco-efficiency at a steady high quality, reliability and variability of logistics services. Yet, suitable solutions are only partially marketable.

Ecology as another target figure in logistics

Optimization of logistics systems is not a new area of operation; it has already in many ways been active for decades. However, former optimization approaches focus on the field of economy, so that ecological aspects, if at all, play only a rather subordinate role. The objective though must be to entrench ecology as another, namely coequal, target figure. As a basis for this, a standardized approach for the ecological assessment of logistics systems and processes is missing at present. Although standards for environmental management and life cycle assessment already exist since the 1990s these are, however, not suitable for logistics systems and processes due to their strong product relation and the high to be mapped complexity of logistics systems. The matter is therefore to develop a standard, with which the ecological impact of logistics systems can be assessed and improvement potentials estimated.

Missing transparency

Numerous approaches and products already exist to design subareas of logistics more energy-efficient and eco-friendly, though, these have not found prevalence yet. Reason for this is that a vast number of the existing individual measures in the areas of transport, intralogistics and logistics real estate are not transparent on their ecological, as well as, economic impact. There are no standardized ecological assessment procedures/methods and no systematic collection of ecological design alternatives for logistics processes and systems. Uncertainties on the actual ecological impact combined with the unawareness of possible, more ecological alternatives and their economic effects make it difficult, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), but also for large scale enterprises, to design their logistics eco-efficiently.