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Environmental sustainability is becoming an increasingly important business practice among shippers, many of whom say their supply chains play an integral role in helping their companies achieve their “green” initiatives. Driven by consumer preferences as well as cost-savings and brand reputation goals, the issue ranks high among companies across the board, regardless of size or industry served, according to a study from third-party logistics firm Coyote Logistics, released today.

Titled “Sustainable Supply Chain Management: Driving a Smarter, More Sustainable Future,” the study polled 250 global shippers across various industries, company sizes, vertical markets, and seniority levels to gauge buying habits and perceptions about the evolution toward a more sustainable supply chain. Researchers found that 81% of shippers are more focused on sustainability today than they were just three years ago, and that their supply chains play a vital role in “owning sustainable initiatives across their networks.” A common commitment to environmental sustainability reinforces the idea that the issue is “here to stay” in supply chain circles, the researchers also said, emphasizing consumer buying preferences and loyalty to brands that prioritize green practices.

“Sustainable practices and operations are now the expectation among customers and key stakeholders. As a result, supply chain professionals need to prioritize these initiatives across their entire networks to achieve continued success,” Mike Sinkovitz, senior vice president of Coyote Transportation Management, said in a statement announcing the study resultsThursday.

The study found that 84% of respondents are more likely to base a purchase decision on a brand’s sustainability practices. In response to that trend, 77% of companies with revenues between $1 million and $199 million said they have increased their focus on sustainability within the last three years. Delivery practices also come into play. The study found that 61% of respondents are willing to wait longer for delivery if they know it’s better for the environment. Nonetheless, same-day and next-day delivery options remain commonplace.

“The study’s data clearly outlined this juxtaposition between consumers’ desire for quick deliveries and sustainable shipping practices. Delivering on both requires a holistic, collaborative effort from all members of the supply chain,” Sinkovitz said.

The study also showed that shippers are making progress toward their sustainability efforts: 98% said they now have at least one team member dedicated to green initiatives, for instance. What’s more, companies are beginning to see a return on their investment (ROI) in sustainability programs, including cost savings (67%), benefits to company reputation (59%), and reflection of industry leadership (52%), among others.

Coyote conducted the survey in partnership with market research firm Martec.

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