Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to document the extent to which large third‐party logistics (3PL) companies have committed themselves to environmental sustainability goals. It also aims to examine the sustainability initiatives undertaken by those companies and the impact of those initiatives on the 3PL and their customers. Finally, the research seeks to examine the impact of the global recession of 2008‐2009 not only on the commitment of the 3PL to their sustainability goals but also on how the recession impacted 3PL customer interest in such goals. Design/methodology/approach – The data upon which this paper is based was generated in two annual surveys of the chief executive officers of 40 large 3PL companies operating in North America, Europe, and the Asia‐Pacific region. These surveys were conducted in 2008 and 2009 and were part of a long‐term series of annual surveys that began in 1994. Findings – The findings indicate that nearly all of the companies involved in the surveys have made substantial commitments to environmental sustainability goals during the past several years and that they have launched a broad range of related projects that have had quite positive impacts on those companies. Despite the recession, none of the 3PL scaled back their commitment to those goals; in fact, many launched new sustainability projects during that period. 3PL customers have also shown increasing interest in the environmental sustainability capabilities of the 3PL. Originality/value – The paper effort represents the first large‐scale effort to document the commitment of large 3PL to environmental sustainability goals.
International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 10, 2010
Keywords: Sustainable development; Distribution management; Globalization
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