Interview with Prof. Dr Tobias Bernecker and Jens-Jochen Roth on the concept of Sustainable Logistics in Germany

An Introduction to the Concept and Case Studies from Germany


Q.1: What are the biggest challenges for the logistics industry worldwide?

Prof. Bernecker: Through continuous growth of world trade, transport and traffic volumes have doubled over the past years. This is causing increased rail and roadway congestion, delays at seaports, and an accelerated wear and tear of transport infrastructure. As a result, the economic viability of the transport sector and whole economies are jeopardized. Furthermore, ecological impacts associated with transport, such as increasing environment hazards and greenhouse gas emissions present a tremendous challenge.

Q.2: What is Sustainable Logistics?20150413

Roth: Sustainability is the solution through which challenges for the logistics sector can be tackled. In contrast to Green Logistics which primarily emphasizes economic payback in accordance with ecological and environmental benefits, Sustainable Logistics focuses simultaneously on the comprehensive needs of people, planet and profit.

Q.3: Can you tell us a few examples of solutions that are have been widely adopted in Germany?

Prof. Bernecker: Germany is one of the leading economies in the field of Sustainable Logistics, with logistics and sustainability mutually reinforcing each other. Logistics is an important part of the German National Sustainability Strategy and vice versa. Sustainable Logistics in Germany is manifested through innovations in the car industry, modern railroad development, efficient supply chains, energy-efficient logistic facilities and instruments like carbon footprinting. Education and research also play an important role.

Q.4: How can developing countries benefit from the Sustainable Logistics experience in Germany and how applicable are German solutions to a developing city?

Roth: We cannot simply translate the experiences from one city or country to another, because individual conditions in each country or city differ. For instance, hardly any European logistics scheme focusses on city centres with more than two million inhabitants, and thus they are not representative of most cities in developing countries which have a much higher average settlement density in the city centre. However, both the individual solutions as well as the comprehensive approach to sustainable logistics presented in our publication are worth study.

Q.5: What are your recommendations for the future of the industry?

Prof. Bernecker: The transport sector’s enormous contribution to climate change through GHG emissions makes it necessary to put sustainability first. Sustainability therefore has to be an integral part of further measures and efforts toward economic, ecological and social goals. In order to achieve this, private and public actors have to work to develop and promote innovative and effective short- and long-term actions for the logistics sector. Instruments such as carbon foot printing or environmental management systems can help identifying potentials for improvement.


Discover Sustainable Logistics in our new publication: Sustainable Logistics – An Introduction to the Concept and Case Studies from Germany.