Green supply chain practices and company performance: the case of 3PLs in Italy

Perotti, Sara, Zorzini, Marta, Cagno, Enrico and Micheli, Guido (2012) Green supply chain practices and company performance: the case of 3PLs in Italy. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 42 (7). pp. 640-672. ISSN 0960-0035

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– The pressure on logistics companies to embrace green processes has increased significantly in the last few years. Within the broad concept of green supply chain management, a review of the existing literature has highlighted a need to understand how green supply chain practices (GSCP) can contribute to improving company performance from an environmental point of view, as well as economic and operational. This paper aims to investigate the GSCP adopted by third party logistics (3PLs) in Italy in terms of specific practices implemented and level of adoption of each practice, and to explore how this adoption can affect the company performance.


– Multi‐case study research involving 15 3PLs operating in Italy, with data collected through face‐to‐face semi‐structured interviews with senior representatives from each company.


– Even if findings reveal an overall increasing interest towards environmental issues, the current level of adoption of GSCP is still limited amongst the 3PLs investigated as well as their benefits in terms of company performance. Some players have shown a more proactive attitude and started benefiting substantially from the adoption of GSCP, mainly in terms of environmental and economic performance.

Research limitations/implications

– The research focuses on 3PLs operating in Italy – findings may differ in other countries and sectors.

Practical implications

– Findings can be used to support company decisions to either modify the GSCP already in place to achieve a set target or identify the most suitable GSCP to implement.


– This study contributes to a better understanding of the links between GSCP and company performance. It also provides insights into the GSCP currently in place amongst 3PLs operating in Italy, identifying the type of supply chain to which companies belong (or intend to belong in the future) as a relevant factor.

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