How do Supply Chains Reduce the Carbon Footprint?

reduce the carbon footprint

Going green is something that a large number of businesses actively focus on these days.

And no, it isn't really what could be classified as merely a trend. There are real implications behind going a greener, more environmentally sustainable direction. And that's not to mention that to do so within a full-scale business usually requires some major changes to daily operations. Simply buying environmentally friendly materials is fine, but it only goes so far. In order to improve sustainability in logistics, the real objective should be to decrease dependence on carbon-based fuels and reducing the carbon footprint. 

There is only one way to do this properly, though, and that is by starting with the core areas of the supply chain and working outward. 

In this blog post, we are going to talk about a few of the ways that logistics companies are actively reducing their carbon footprint.


Reducing Waste 

A major component to reducing the carbon footprint the elimination or reduction of waste.

Businesses throughout the logistics world work very hard to find cost-effective and responsible ways of retaining sustainable materials. Most of the time, this is actually easier said than done. Because of the interest in a greener supply chain, eco-friendly materials are, unfortunately, rising in cost.

However, depending on the type of business, there are a few specific areas of focus that can help you save money while still moving one step closer to reducing your carbon footprint. 

  • Trucking: The transportation industry is dependent on efficiency. It goes something like this... when a truck is not moving, it’s not making money. Even worse, it is wasting it while simultaneously harming the environment. To reduce this waste of fuel, many trucking companies utilize freight exchanges to pick-up emergency or unexpected deliveries to maintain fuel efficiency. 
  • Fulfillment Centers: For those who are in the fulfillment business, reducing dependence on styrofoam and other non-biodegradable packing materials also can make an impact on the global carbon footprint.
  • Manufacturing: Using raw materials that are responsibly sourced is something else to keep in mind. After all, the goal is to do as little damage to the environment as possible.


Reducing Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions are simply unburned carbon-based fuels like gasoline, coal, and diesel fuel.

The average combustion engine only burns about 90 percent of fuel introduced into the combustion chamber. The other 10 percent is expelled out of the exhaust system and into the air we breathe.

For decades, trucking companies have been working to improve their fuel efficiency. And as a direct result of improved efficiency is one big step toward a zero-emissions future. 

  • Use of Fuel Additives or Combustion Catalyst: About 30 years ago, engineers in Singapore began to use catalysts (such as iron and other metals) mixed with fuel in order to help improve fuel efficiency and increase power. And they work surprisingly well! However, one drawback is that this introduces microscopic metallic shavings into the moving combustion engine. As any engineer or mechanic will tell you, this can cause damage or premature wear and tear to the engine. 
  • Regeneration Systems: The trucking industry uses regeneration systems. These systems collect unburned carbon emissions in the exhaust system. From there, it burns it off during a regen cycle. The main problem is that this reduces on-road efficiency, so it is not a perfect solution just quite yet.


Reducing Energy Consumption

Warehouses, retail locations, and fulfillment centers all strive for more efficient lighting or HVAC systems that consume less electricity. They also strategically install skylight windows throughout the facility, which lets in natural light. This strategy allows them to virtually eliminate the use of energy-soaking industrial lighting for the majority of a typical business day.

At first, this may seem rather pointless. But after a while, even the cost-savings involved are undeniable.


Conserving Natural Resources

Using alternative energy is a primary objective of sustainable logistics operations.

Current testing with EV’s or electric-powered vehicles has shown some significant improvements and offers logistics companies several pathways to conserving natural resources. Other objectives such as implementing more solar-powered energy sources, using recycled materials whenever possible, and working during off-peak energy consumption hours are also powerful ways logistics companies are helping to reduce their own footprint.


Final Thoughts

At the heart of all sustainability efforts is the collaboration between all supply chain partners. Working together on reducing our complete dependence on natural resources, and our carbon footprint should be a no-brainer.

An experienced 3PL like Redwood Logistics can help you create energy-efficient operations and sustainability efforts that do not impact your ability to serve your customers. If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint and operate a greener supply chain, contact the experts at Redwood Logistics.