Back to Resources

Advancing Your Supply Chain Sustainability: 5 Steps to Keep Getting Greener

How to advance your supply chain sustainability

As the effects of climate change continue to create volatility and disruption across global supply chains, sustainability has become an increasingly popular topic in the logistics industry.

Shippers around the world are ramping up their commitment to implementing sustainable supply chain solutions.

According to Coyote’s new original research study, Sustainable Supply Chain Management: Driving a Smarter, More Sustainable Future, 81% of global shippers are more focused on sustainability today than they were three years ago.

Chart 1

If you have already introduced sustainable supply chain practices in your operations and are looking to take the next step, insight from your peers is a great resource.

Our study, conducted in partnership with Martec, a third-party research firm, examines how 250 global supply chain professionals are approaching green initiatives in their businesses.

Here are five actionable steps, powered by insights from decision-makers, you can use to continue advancing sustainability initiatives in your own supply chain.


Step 1: Adopt Other Businesses Best Ideas

Once your sustainability program is up and running, has an established owner, clearly defined goals and is working towards some internal quick wins, it’s time take the next step.

If you don’t know where to invest next, look to your peers for guidance. Unlike many aspects of business, it’s not only acceptable to plagiarize sustainability ideas from other companies — it’s often encouraged.

Find ways to collaborate across your industry. Use research (like our study) to benchmark. Take what you learn from other businesses and prioritize based on what will contribute to your short- and long-term goals.

We have both short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goals involve small improvements, such as measuring idle time of drivers, and the long-term goals include overall fuel for fleets or fleets themselves.”

– Supply Chain Manager in a Consumer Goods company


Step 2: Align Your RFPs with Your Sustainability Goals

Many shippers start their supply chain sustainability journey looking within their four walls. Optimizing your own, internal processes and operations can yield great results, but your business is just one link in the longer supply chain.

Your vendors, carriers and providers can all play a significant role in contributing to your overall sustainability initiatives.

Request for Proposals (RFPs) are a great tool to communicate your sustainability goals to your wider network.

Currently 45% of shippers have sustainability as a consideration in their procurement process, but only 25% have sustainability components as a requirement.

Chart 1

  • If you are in the 30% of companies that do not currently have sustainability as an active consideration in their RFPs, start to bring it in the process.
  • If you are in the 45% that currently consider it, start to make it a requirement.
  • If it’s already a requirement, look past your direct suppliers and start to examine their suppliers.

Making wholesale changes to your network based on sustainability in one bid cycle will not be realistic for most businesses, but you have to at least make it part of the process. By making sustainability an industry standard in RFPs, we can accelerate significant long-term change.

Need help bringing sustainability requirements into your RFP process? Request a consultation with the Coyote Transportation Management team to get you started.


Step 3: Measure Success Through Sustainability KPIs

If you want to drive visible improvements with your sustainability program, you have to not only define success, but have the ability to measure it.

Make sure your reporting is able to track progress, evaluate your return on investment (ROI) and empower you to make better decisions for future investments.

One of the best ways to measure your success is to track your progress using key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the overall effectiveness of your sustainability program.

Currently many shippers are tracking fuel efficiency, CO2 emissions and alternative fuel usage.

Chart 2


Remember, committing to environmental sustainability in your supply chain will often require an investment upfront — you will need to dedicate time and resources to seeing your goals through to completion.

Developing strong KPI tracking will ensure you can measure your results along the way, which will help you justify the expense, pinpoint what is working (and what isn’t) and make more strategic decisions in the future.


Step 4: Set Long-Term Sustainability Goals

Once you have started picking the low-hanging fruit, you can look at the problem from a more holistic, long view perspective. Measure success in years, not months.

While you may be able to achieve some short-term wins, it’s critical to focus on the long-term returns when you define what success looks like for your sustainability program.

Chart 3

Most supply chain professionals are planning ahead by at least 4-5 years.

According to our study, 52% of supply chain professionals expect to meet their supply chain sustainability goals in the next four to five years and 51% expect to meet their goals in the next two to three years.

As you set long-term plans, it underscores the importance of having a solid KPI structure so you can properly track waste reduction over time.

Regular checkpoints will help keep you on track and make these huge numbers more manageable.

The types of goals shippers set also shift in the long-term. The key focus of most short-term sustainability initiatives was around fuel consumption, where the larger goals tend to focus on reducing greenhouse gas and carbon emissions.

We plan to have 40% less CO2 Emissions by 2023 and replace legacy fleet with alternative vehicles.”

– Supply Chain Director, Food and Beverage/Retail Shipper


Step 5: Bring in Experts

If you feel like you have done all the obvious and don’t know what your next move is, get outside help.  Many companies — about 20% of respondents — are consulting with outside experts to help guide their sustainability efforts.

Chart 4

We brought in a third party to help us analyze where we are and set realistic goals for our supply chain over the next couple of years.”

– Manager of Logistics at a Food & Beverage Company


Keep Pushing for a More Sustainable Future

When sustainability programs work, everybody wins. Not only is it the right thing to do for our planet and all global citizens, your business will benefit.

According to our study, 84% of consumers are more willing to purchase from brands that are committed to sustainability, and that trend is not going to reverse.

To keep your company relevant in the future, and to continue doing your part to mitigate climate change, it’s important to keep supply chain sustainability as a core business priority.

As you look to build on your foundation, use these five steps as a place to start:

  1. Adopt other businesses best ideas
  2. Align your RFPs with your sustainability goals
  3. Measure success through sustainability KPIs
  4. Set long-term sustainability goals
  5. Bring in the experts

Our research study is a great companion that can help you do some initial benchmarking and see where other shippers are finding the most return on investment.

For in-depth supply chain sustainability insights from 250 global shippers, download SUSTAINABLE SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT: Driving a Smarter, More Sustainable Future for free.



Need Help Getting Started?

Coyote can help contribute to your sustainability performance with customized solutions that include eliminating empty miles, intermodal conversion, LTL consolidation, RFP management, asset & route optimization, fuel alternative carriers and network reporting.

If you are ready for a consultation, you can get a free network analysis and review with a Coyote Transportation Management (CTM) specialist.

November 5th, 2021

How Coyote & UPS Supply Chain Solutions Are Adding Value to the Entire Supply Chain

For 15 years. Coyote Logistics has been a leader in the third-party logistics (3PL) s...

Read More
November 2nd, 2021

Patience, Precision and Paperwork: How to Avoid 5 Cross-Channel Shipping Mistakes

Shipping freight across borders can cause some unique headaches. Everything is multip...

Read More
November 2nd, 2021

Chapter 3: Visibility on your financials

CoyoteGO® makes reviewing charges and download invoices for your shipments fast and ...

Read More