Quantifying the environmental and economic benefits of cooperation: A case study in temperature-controlled food logistics

Helena M. Stellingwerf, Gilbert Laporte, Frans C.A.M. Cruijssen, Argyris Kanellopoulos, Jacqueline M. Bloemhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (SciVal)


Inefficient road transportation causes unnecessary costs and polluting emissions. This problem is even more severe in refrigerated transportation, in which temperature control is used to guarantee the quality of the products. Organizing logistics cooperatively can help decrease both the environmental and the economic impacts. In Joint Route Planning (JRP) cooperation, suppliers and customers jointly optimize routing decisions so that cost and emissions are minimized. Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) cooperation extends JRP cooperation by optimizing routing and inventory planning decisions simultaneously. However, in addition to their economic advantages, VMI and JRP may also yield environmental benefits. To test this assertion, we perform a case study on cooperation between a number of supermarket chains in the Netherlands. The data of this case study are analyzed to quantify both the economic and environmental benefits of implementing cooperation via JRP and VMI, using vehicle routing and an inventory routing models. We found that JRP cooperation can substantially reduce cost and emissions compared with uncooperative routing. In addition, VMI cooperation can further reduce cost and emissions, but minimizing cost and minimizing emissions no longer result in the same solution and there is a trade-off to be made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-193
Number of pages16
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • CO emissions
  • Fresh food
  • Inventory
  • Logistics
  • Route optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)


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