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Sri Lankan firms told of cost savings from sustainable logistics

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan companies that adopt sustainability initiatives in transport and logistics can not only reduce their carbon footprint but cut costs as well, a sustainability expert said.

“Sustainability initiatives can cut down wastage and bringing in ‘green’ practices can introduce efficiencies,” said Chulendra de Silva, head of sustainability, risk management and sourcing at the engineering and construction firm MTD Walkers.

“Sustainability does not mean you are only making short term gains. It’s more focused on making long term gains,” he said delivering the L S de Silva memorial lecture held by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.
Chulendra De Silva, the grandson of L S De Silva, a civil engineer who had a long career in the railway and set up the local CILT branch, said Sri Lankan firms were not as bold and open as foreign multinationals in proclaiming sustainability measures and setting targets to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Sustainability is not a simple framework,” he said. “It’s a culture. If the culture is entrenched completely, sustainability will be sustainable in your organisation.”

Some global fizzy drinks firms were now putting back every single drop of water they use through measures like recycling and recharging aquifers.

“Sri Lankan companies need to work on it,” De Silva said.
Collaborative logistics could yield efficiencies like fuel savings, De Silva said, noting how some multinational soft drinks brands sent bottles in the same lorry.

“Because they were not competing on transport. They were competing on markets. It did not matter how the bottles got to market.”

Shifting freight transport to night time also has its advantages like reduced traffic congestion and better fuel efficiency but these had to be weighed against noise that could disturb the community.

Dynamic route planning versus static was another option that provides transport fleet managers the most optimum way to get from one point to another.

In office transport, companies can encourage car pooling and also reduce the need for travel by encouraging teleworking which some local conglomerates are doing, said De Silva, a former vice president and head of sustainability and enterprise risk management at John Keells Holdings.





And use of electric vehicles can be encouraged by company giving vehicle allowances only for hybrid vehicles.

“Organisations can push for it saying ‘we give you car loan if you go for a hybrid’ – that also brings your fuel costs down.”

All carbon footprint savings ultimately results in cost savings, De Silva said. (Colombo/September 11 2015)

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