The Paradox of Logistics GrowthBy Ingo Babrikowski | Fri, 01/07/2022 - 12:50
In 2014, a study by McKinsey projected that straight-away deliveries would be the next big step in the evolution of logistics. Eight years later and with a worldwide pandemic happening, that forecast is a reality.
Apps for express shipping are booming, showcasing record growth. While the world’s big marketplaces boast the fastest delivery, the goal is to become the preference for buyers who, fascinated by the hectic rhythm of traceability, set the bar ever higher each time.
This dynamic is setting a rhythm that goods distributors cannot ignore — supply is so wide that doing so would mean staying out of the game. With everything happening so fast, the monetary cost of shipments becomes even less visible, seeming to fade in front of the advantage of obtaining everything we desire as fast as possible.
However, it is necessary to pay attention to how the culture of the immediate is increasing the environmental impact of logistics. In simple terms, getting faster means more vehicles, more routes, and even more flights to comply with the delivery guarantees. In environmental terms, this means a higher emission of pollutants, which the planet cannot support. Expedited deliveries that use airplanes to carry goods produce considerably higher pollution than goods carried by land. This topic becomes relevant when the increase in global temperature threatens the viability of life in the medium term.
The UN Intergovernmental group of experts on climate change defined in a study that human activities have caused a global warming of approximately 1.0 degrees Celsius with respect to the previous levels in the industrial era, and that a maximum of 1.5 C between 2030 and 2052 would be almost acceptable. The actions taken to reduce the environmental impact implemented so far estimate an increase of 2.7 C for those years. We know that the impact is irreversible and just one example of this is the increase in sea level, which could reach 2m by the end of this century, endangering entire countries.
It seems that we face a paradox. In a way, we see the additional impact that the logistics acceleration is having on the environment; in another way, our activity is confirmed as a facilitator and promoter of economic activity and new technology-based marketing models.
The e-commerce boom gives PyMes access to local and international markets and puts within reach an amplitude difficult to reach without the help of a logistics operator. A son who does not live in the same city as his elderly parents, can buy them groceries and send them to their house, or a mother with online sales can manage her home while taking care of her children.
There is no doubt that logistics is helping businesses grow and allowing us to take care of loved ones from a distance; in fact, I am still convinced that one of the best discoveries in this post-pandemic era is the time we can use to do other activities thanks to remote connectivity to work or by shopping online.
Will Waiting a Couple More Days Hurt?
Logistics has been one of the activities driven by the pandemic and the demand for our service has increased significantly, but we must assume the responsibility of making the environmental consequences of this growth somehow visible and not encourage fast-paced consumption habits just to expand our market share.
There will always be the need for an urgent delivery, such as medicine, a contract or a spare part. Fortunately, the global logistics industry has developed a service capable of crossing the entire world in a very short time; however, it is essential to rethink distribution models and assume the necessary efforts to achieve a global “zero emissions” model. Science is working intensely and people are already talking about alternative energies and non-polluting vehicles; however, those developments still have a way to go. Meanwhile, it is essential to implement real actions and start getting the job done.
It is time to make a change. Online shopping has an implicit value by eliminating the need to go to physical stores, helping us avoid getting stuck in traffic or using public transport. Let us extend this virtual cycle by requesting that our purchases arrive at a nearby collection point, or schedule our shipments so that the delivery is successful on the first attempt. We should reuse packing materials, and most importantly, we should ask ourselves when we browse the internet: Do I really need to have this pair of tennis shoes today, or can I wait a couple more days?