Recent decades have seen increasing utilization of optimization packages, based on Operations Research and Mathematical Programming techniques, for effective management of the provision of goods and services in distribution systems. Large numbers of real-world applications have widely shown that the use of computerized procedures for distribution process planning produces substantial savings (generally from 5% to 20%) in global transportation costs. The impact of these savings on the global economic system is significant. The transportation process involves all stages of production and distribution systems and represents a relevant component (generally from 10% to 20%) of the final cost of goods. The green vehicle routing problem (GVRP) is an emerging research field that attracts many researchers. This survey paper aims to classify and review the literature on GVRPs from various perspectives. This paper covers publications between 2006 and 2019 including 309 papers. To this end, a systematic literature review has been implemented in order to respond to corresponding questions related to this area. This study proposes an extensive structure compromising various aspects including variants of GVRPs, objective functions, uncertainty, and solutions approach to analyze GVRPs studies from different perspectives. Some new research areas have been drawn based on problem classification, uncertainties, solution methodologies, and finally, the objective function approaches for future research directions. The results of this study show that researches on GVRPs are relatively fresh and there is still room for large improvements in several areas.