• Green Leaves Logistics helps pilot new FIATA paperless Bill of Lading
  • Solution now available to International Federation of Freight Forwarders members worldwide
  • This will result in significant savings in paper and courier journeys

A Birmingham-based green logistics provider has played a part in developing a pioneering new system which represents a significant milestone in the digital revolution of global supply chain processes.

Green Leaves Logistics – which helps transport firms offset their carbon footprint – assisted the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA) in the testing and development of a brand new paperless Bill of Lading solution.

The long-desired, more efficient, greener solution to the FIATA Bill of Lading will allow the organisation’s members across the globe to finally digitise this key step in the movement of goods.

A Bill of Lading is an essential legal document which acts as both a receipt and a title of goods. It must accompany every shipment and has to be signed by authorised representatives of the carrier, shipper and receiver.

This has historically been in the form of a physical document which is transported around the world by couriers at significant cost and environmental impact, not to mention risk of being damaged, lost, or forged.

The industry has long been waiting for a secured electronic version which can be easily accessed and issued by freight forwarders through their everyday tools. This new digital solution also improves the level of security compared to the paperless version, making use of blockchain technology to authenticate documents and provide an audit trail.

And while various challenges remain to achieving worldwide adoption and legal recognition of electronic exchange of data, the paperless FIATA Bill of Lading answers the needs for improved access and exchange of trade documents.  The new system allows the switch to a PDF or paper version at any time in the process for scenarios where a paper version is still required.

FIATA spent seven months proving the concept; confirming the technical and operational feasibility of the paperless version. This involved seven software providers, and 19 freight fowarders who tested the full life cycle of the document, from issue though the participating software providers to the sharing and verification process with stakeholders.

Green Leaves Logistics was among those freight forwarders and spent a number of weeks taking part in roundtable discussions, testing and providing feedback, alongside some of the industry’s biggest firms.

‘Huge development for the industry’

Being able to develop such an important project, so closely aligned to his own goals of reducing the logistics industry’s environmental impact, was a real coup for Green Leaves co-founder, Marvin Elson.

“This is huge for the logistics industry,” Marvin said. “The FIATA paperless Bill of Lading has made history and to have been a part of that is amazing. It was such a privilege to be involved in this project alongside some of the UK’s biggest freight forwarding companies and we were able to bring some valuable feedback to the table.

“We are a paperless business and have been ever since inception. We set up just over a year ago with the aim of creating a sustainable logistics company, and to help others become more sustainable too. We do this mainly through the use of technology, carbon avoidance projects and reforestation.

“Reducing our collective carbon footprint and working towards net zero is as much about changing processes as it is about offsetting carbon, and we are always looking at how we can use technology to achieve this.

“The carbon footprint of transporting the physical Bill of Lading document around the world, for example, must be huge. This new electronic solution means a lot of those journeys can be stopped for good. This represents a significant step forward in digitalising some of the archaic processes which exist in the logistics industry.”

Green Leaves Logistics has removed 2,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and planted more than 4,500 trees on behalf of its customers in just under a year. June was a record month in new client registrations as more businesses look towards achieving a net zero goal.

FIATA members can now apply to start issuing a paperless FIATA Bill of Lading.