This article evaluates the efficiency of three meta-heuristic optimiser (viz. MOGA-II, MOPSO and NSGA-II)-based solution methods for designing a sustainable three-echelon distribution network. The distribution network employs a bi-objective location-routing model. Due to the mathematically NP-hard nature of the model a multi-disciplinary optimisation commercial platform, modeFRONTIER®, is adopted to utilise the solution methods. The proposed Design of Experiment (DoE)-guided solution methods are of two phased that solve the NP-hard model to attain minimal total costs and total CO2 emission from transportation. Convergence of the optimisers are tested and compared. Ranking of the realistic results are examined using Pareto frontiers and the Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution approach, followed by determination of the optimal transportation routes. A case of an Irish dairy processing industry’s three-echelon logistics network is considered to validate the solution methods. The results obtained through the proposed methods provide information on open/closed distribution centres (DCs), vehicle routing patterns connecting plants to DCs, open DCs to retailers and retailers to retailers, and number of trucks required in each route to transport the products. It is found that the DoE-guided NSGA-II optimiser based solution is more efficient when compared with the DoE-guided MOGA-II and MOPSO optimiser based solution methods in solving the bi-objective NP-hard three-echelon sustainable model. This efficient solution method enable managers to structure the physical distribution network on the demand side of a logistics network, minimising total cost and total CO2 emission from transportation while satisfying all operational constraints.