Research Output
Environmental Sustainability of Logistics Service Providers: a systematic literature review on indicators for city logistics
  Purpose: United Nations reported that currently in Europe, 70% of the population lives in urban and metropolitan areas, this number is expected to reach 85% by 2050 (Russoand Comi, 2016). The increasing logistics and transport activities in the city significantly
impact on the environment we live in. Provision of green and sustainable logistics services is on the top of logistics service providers’ (LSPs) agendas and can also become a competitive edge to their customers (Piecyk and Björklund, 2015). Both academics and
industry have shown increasing attention to measure the logistics sustainability in the recent decade, yet limited research has been developed comprehensively (Evangelista et al., 2018). Thus, LSPs’ sustainability performance measurement methods and relevant
indicators need to be assessed and updated particularly in the context of city logistics. To fill this gap, this paper aims to identify and evaluate the current frameworks and indicators that reflect the performance of LSPs’ environmental sustainability in academic publications,
and further propose a practical set of sustainability indicators to assess the city logistics ‘greenness’ and environmental sustainability in LSPs’ operations.

Design/methodology/approach: To achieve this aim, a systematic literature review was carried out to map out the existing measurement indicators of environmental sustainability that apply in city logistics and LSPs domains. The academic database - Scopus was primarily used, and key references were added as supplement through cross reference. A total of 56 papers dating from 2010 - 2018 were selected and analysed in detail to investigate how the different environmental sustainability measurement frameworks/methods are used by different industries for their logistics operations, and
what indicators are applied. Findings: Despite the increasing numbers of published papers on environmental sustainability measurement since 2010, few studies have focused on city logistics and freight transport sector. Among various frameworks identified, the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) are the two major frameworks adopted by scholars when assessing sustainability. However, the research in city logistics has yet to
embrace the GRI framework in the environmental sustainability evaluation.

Value: This study attempts to fill the research gap of current studies by providing a comprehensive review of the indicators to assess the environmental sustainability of LSPs in the city logistics context. A framework embedded with GRI framework was developed to provide a set of updated indicators. Future research directions are also highlighted.

Research limitations/implications: The literature reviewed only included academic articles at this stage, industry and government reports shall be considered in future research to comprise an exhaustive review.

Practical Contribution: This paper provides a basis for future research to develop a comprehensive taxonomy of sustainability for city logistics to select the suitable environmental sustainability indicators and measure LSPs’ sustainability performance, which will enable LSPs to benchmark the status-quo of their ‘greenness’, and identify the hurdles to fulfil environmental sustainability requirements and adopting realistic and practical practices for improvement.

  • Date:

    14 July 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Historic Funder (pre-Worktribe)


Zhang, X., Plant, E., & Valantasis Kanello, N. (2019). Environmental Sustainability of Logistics Service Providers: a systematic literature review on indicators for city logistics


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