Your Guide to Sustainable Electronics Shipping

As the electronics sector grows, so does its environmental impact, particularly in logistics and shipping. This comes at a time when the demand for artificial intelligence computing power is surging. 

With geopolitical tensions and stricter environmental regulations, prioritising sustainable business practices in supply chain management has never been more crucial. There are plenty of reasons to prioritise sustainable business practices

Air freight

Feight being loaded onto an airplane.

Air transport, the most carbon-intensive method, emits about 500 grams of CO2 per tonne-kilometre. This is considerably more than marine shipping. Despite its carbon output, air freight's speed makes it popular for shipping electronics. Here are some other considerations when choosing air freight:



Fast travel 

High emissions

Reliable flight schedules and routes with many airport destinations

High freight cost

Less handling, meaning less chance for damage

Limited capacity 

The aviation industry aims to cut its environmental impact by introducing Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). This fuel can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% over its lifecycle compared to traditional jet fuel. However, supply challenges hinder wider use.

Electronic manufacturers relying on air freight can look to reduce their carbon footprint by:

  • Opt for lighter, compact packaging to decrease weight and volume
  • Choose direct flights to reduce fuel consumption
  • Partner with airlines that offer carbon offset programs and prioritise sustainability

Marine freight

Containers being loaded onto a ship in a shipping yard.

Shipping vessels handle over 80% of world trade, for clear reasons. Sea transport is much more carbon-efficient than other options, especially for large shipments. Cargo ships are known to emit 16.14 grams of CO2 per kilometre for each metric ton of cargo. Moving large amounts of cargo often means electronic manufacturers benefit from economies of scale.

This is not to say that marine freight is not without its challenges. Marine freight's greenhouse gas emissions have risen over the past decade, as ships mostly run on fossil fuels. Disastrous oil spills, among other marine disruptions, have also caught headlines in recent years.



Low emissions

Slow travel

Low freight cost

Sometimes unreliable schedules due to weather, among other factors 

High capacity 

Higher handling increases risk of damage

Although marine freight is seen as one of the most sustainable options, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is driven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping vessels by at least half by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. To do this, more modern ships and eco-fuels are being explored.

Electronic manufacturers relying on marine freight can look to reduce their carbon footprint by:

  • Choose companies that utilise slow steaming. This is the practice of ships running at lower than maximum speed 
  • Utilising shipping companies with carbon offsetting programs 
  • Share container space with other companies for less-than-container loads

Land freight

Freight being loaded into the back of a truck.

In this guide, we group rail and truck transport together. Yet, each method has unique environmental considerations. Train emissions in 2023 were estimated to be 26 grams of CO2 per kilometre for each metric tonne. Urban trucks vary depending on the vehicle but are estimated to emit 307 grams of Co2 per kilometre for each metric tonne

For manufacturers shipping goods continentally, rail and road freight are essential. Despite this, transporting goods via roads is a key source of pollution from the electronics industry, among other factors



Road transport can deliver to your door

Road transport has high emissions

Rail transport has low emissions

Rail infrastructure is not adequate in some countries 

Rail transport has a high capacity 

Road transport can be delayed by traffic unexpectedly

The rise in popularity of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells is obvious in the freight industry as well as personal transportation. However, the size and weight of cargo only enlarge challenges, including infrastructure.

Electronic manufacturers relying on truck and rail freight can look to reduce their carbon footprint by:

  • Choose rail freight over road transport when you can 
  • Partner with freight companies that have a fleet of hybrid or electric vehicles
  • Ensure rail companies use Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) to reduce fuel use

Make sustainable changes to your supply chain

To minimise the environmental impact of shipping components whilst still ensuring convenience, Component Sense mainly uses air freight for urgent, high-value items. We typically use marine freight for other parts and larger batches.

Component Sense’s partnership with global logistics company DSV enables local consignment, reducing the need for long-haul shipping of your excess stock. With over 80 DSV warehouses around the world, your excess inventory can remain off-site in a local warehouse while being advertised to our extensive network of brokers and buyers. This is instead of shipping all of the parts to Component Sense’s headquarters in the UK before needing to ship them again to the buyer.

To learn more about how redistributing your excess component stock makes environmental sense, email us today.