BlogSupply Chain Sustainability/Circular EconomyGreen Logistics

With global warming concerns intensifying, the role of businesses in fighting climate change has become even more critical.  As many successful companies continue to expand so too does their impact on both the global economy and the environment.  One of the best ways companies can contribute to protecting our planet’s environment is by committing to green logistics and sustainability in supply chain operations.

Green logistics describes measures taken to affect the flow of products, services and information within a supply chain that help mitigate the environmental impact from business operations. Technology, specialized equipment, and eco-friendly business techniques and products all play a role in green logistics.

Mitigating the environmental impact of business logistics minimizes legal risks, enhances a company’s brand and reputation, and helps ensure adverse climate change effects don’t disrupt business activities. Green logistics also helps a company’s bottom line, as a greener supply chain means a leaner supply chain, with fewer fuel, energy, and labor costs, resulting in a reduced Total Cost of Business (TCOB). Companies can make their logistics practices as green as possible by implementing the following steps:

Optimize Warehouse Design

Companies that operate warehouses can minimize their carbon footprint through efficient and eco-friendly warehouse designs. Designs that reduce energy use not only lower costs but put less strain on energy suppliers and help lower the greenhouse gas emissions generated by many of these suppliers. Implementing simple, energy-saving technological improvements, like installing movement-sensing lights, can make warehouse operations significantly greener.

Warehouse operators should also pay close attention to site layout. An efficiently designed   layout will streamline the flow of traffic in and around a warehouse, reduce the number of times an item is handled, and cut down on the distance traveled between operational actions. This also helps reduce labor and energy costs and minimizes a company’s environmental impact.

Assess Your Transportation Network

The adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is particularly true for supply chain transportation networks, which have become increasingly complex and strained as consumer demand for deliveries skyrockets.  A thorough, comprehensive analysis of a company’s transportation network may involve an internal review, investing in upgraded supply chain software, or even working with logistics consultants. Finding ways to streamline a transportation network is critical to making a supply chain more eco-friendly.

The key to green logistics transportation is reducing the number of hours a company’s vehicles and personnel spend in transit. Whenever possible, shipments between warehouses or distributions centers should be minimized. Shipments that go directly to a purchaser or consumer are more efficient, burn less fuel and energy, and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.  Businesses should also consider letting inventory accumulate and combining shipping loads whenever possible, again reducing the number of trips their vehicles and personnel take. This can all be accomplished if a company’s transportation network is thoroughly and regularly assessed.

Reduce Shipping Weight

Reducing shipping weight plays a significant role in both reducing supply chain costs and improving green logistics transportation. More weight requires more fuel to push heavier and more frequent shipping loads, resulting in higher fuel consumption, higher fuel costs, and more harmful emissions. This greenhouse gas calculator demonstrates how even small reductions in transport weight can make a significant difference for a company’s carbon footprint.

One very effective way to reduce weight in a supply chain is by using lightweight plastic pallets for shipping. Wooden pallets are heavy at 65-70lbs and add unnecessary pounds to loads. Plastic pallets, by contrast, can be up to 35 percent lighter.

Maximize Use of Eco-Friendly Material

Companies should use materials that are durable, biodegradable or recyclable for their shipping needs. Durable materials are less likely to break and cause delays within a supply chain, which results in lower energy and fuel costs and helps minimize a company’s environmental impact. Using biodegradable or recyclable materials results in less pollution and puts less strain on our planet’s resources and waste disposal capacity.

Packaging materials that are not biodegradable or recyclable can have some of the worst impacts on our environment. These materials can linger for an eternity in landfills, continuing to pollute the air, or eventually find their way into waterways, where they threaten marine life. Shipping companies can make their supply chains greener by using everything from biodegradable packing peanuts to air pillows and boxes constructed from recycled materials. There is even mushroom packaging made from fungus roots and farm residue. Exploring all these alternatives help minimize a supply chain’s impact on the environment.

Durable plastic pallets for shipping are another key component in green logistics. Wood pallets have a shorter shelf life than plastic pallets, and can shed splinters, sawdust, and debris that make workspaces slippery and foul equipment. Wood pallets are also held together with metal such as nails and staples that can break off, jamming machinery and gears. Using plastic pallets in place of wood pallets cuts down on delays caused by repairs and cleaning, which results in less energy use and helps minimize the environmental impact of business logistics.

Plastic pallets can also be recycled. Wood pallets usually wind up in landfills after their shorter lifespans. iGPS plastic pallets are simply broken down and remade for future use, a true example of supply chain sustainability. Companies investing in green logistics may also consider renting plastic pallets from a pallet pooling company. By renting pallets, businesses can reduce the complexity of pallet procurement and management, possibly saving on energy costs, and again minimizing their environmental impact.

Global warming and climate change adversely affect all countries and businesses. But companies can help mitigate climate change by committing to green logistics. By doing so they help not only the planet but their own bottom lines, as a greener supply chain is a leaner supply chain with reduced costs.

Companies committed to green logistics use iGPS plastic pallets for all their shipping needs. Our lightweight, recyclable plastic pallets help make supply chains sustainable and reduce the Total Cost of Business. For more information, contact us at 1-866-557-0047, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.