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Sustainability in B2B Distribution: A Competitive Advantage


n recent years, sustainability has become an increasingly important consideration for businesses across industries. B2B distribution is no exception. As the world recognizes the urgent need to address environmental concerns, businesses are realizing the impact of their operations on the planet and the importance of adopting sustainable practices.

Increasing pressure from customers, investors, and government regulators are pushing companies to implement more sustainable practices. Eighty-seven percent of business leaders expect to increase their organization’s investment in sustainability over the next two years, according to a recent Gartner survey

Additionally, online shopping is growing amongst both B2B and B2C consumers. If left unchanged, the environmental impact of the rising number of eCommerce deliveries globally will cause air pollution and human health issues. Global annual parcel volume could increase from over 315 billion parcels in 2022 to up to 800 billion parcels a year in 2030, according to a report from Clean Mobility Collective and Research Group. 

Global eCommerce deliveries will emit up to 160 megatons each year by 2030, which is equivalent to yearly CO2 emissions of up to 44 coal plants, the report projects. Implementing sustainable business practices can help distributors adapt to increasing eCommerce growth while minimizing their impact on the environment.

Here’s a look at the significance of sustainability in B2B distribution and some steps businesses can take to promote sustainability in their distribution processes.

Why Sustainability Matters in B2B Distribution

B2B distribution often involves significant transportation, warehousing, and inventory activities, which can result in carbon emissions, waste generation, and resource consumption. Embracing sustainability practices helps reduce the environmental impact of these operations, contributing to a greener future. B2B customers are increasingly concerned about sustainability. They prefer to do business with suppliers and distributors that prioritize environmental responsibility. 

Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can enhance brand reputation, attract environmentally conscious customers, and strengthen business relationships. Sustainable practices can also lead to cost savings in the long run. By streamlining workflows, reducing energy consumption, and optimizing delivery routes, businesses can minimize waste, lower fuel expenses, and improve operational efficiency. 

Here’s a look at some sustainable practices in B2B distribution, enabling businesses to meet customer expectations and improve resource utilization, while reducing their environmental impact.

Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can enhance brand reputation, attract environmentally conscious customers, and strengthen business relationships.

Supply Chain Optimization

Emissions from supply chains often account for over 90% of a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. Consequently, environmental sustainability has become an imperative for supply chains. One of the key areas to focus on is optimizing the supply chain. Using digital platforms to automate and streamline warehouse and inventory management can help businesses minimize fuel consumption, carbon emissions, and overall environmental impact. 

Green Transportation

The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions., accounting for the largest portion (29%) of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. Distributors can adopt greener delivery practices to lower their environmental impact. Transitioning to hybrid or electric vehicles reduces emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. 

Orange EV, the electric vehicle manufacturer, recently announced the delivery of its 500th electric yard truck. The 500th Orange EV truck was purchased by United Natural Foods (UNFI), the wholesale distributor of health and specialty foods. The distributor has been committed to increasing sustainable business practices. UNFI recently announced the launch of its Climate Action Partnership to encourage UNFI’s suppliers to make credible climate commitments. The program offers UNFI suppliers a variety of resources to innovate and scale climate solutions.

electric vehicle
Transitioning to hybrid or electric vehicles reduces emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

Efficient Delivery Management

Delivery management platforms can optimize delivery routes and consolidate deliveries, enabling companies to minimize travel distances, reduce fuel consumption, and improve efficiency. Dynamic route optimization capabilities allow distributors to adjust routes in real-time, maximize resources, and reduce miles traveled. Real-time visibility allows distributors to track their drivers and adapt to last-minute delivery disruptions quickly, ensuring on-time delivery.

Comprehensive digital platforms can break down silos, streamline workflows, and increase efficiency. Building a flexible delivery network can enable B2B distributors to respond to demands faster and mitigate inventory or delivery issues. Businesses that implement a centralized control tower, where data is visible in one cohesive and connected dashboard, will help break down silos within the distribution network to provide end-to-end visibility.

Sustainability is no longer an option but a necessity for businesses in the B2B distribution sector. By implementing sustainable practices throughout their distribution network, businesses can reduce their environmental footprint, meet customer expectations, and build a more sustainable future.

For more information about how our delivery management solution can help you run a more sustainable distribution operation, please contact

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