The Path to a Greener Supply Chain

greener supply chain

The path to a greener supply chain is one that is massively complex and time-consuming. Needless to say, it is also probably one of the biggest issues the global logistics industry faces.

Reducing dependence on carbon-based fuels is the responsibility of anyone who operates a supply chain. The good news is that most logistics companies do understand that they have a role to play in helping to improve and protect our environment. 

The challenge that comes with operating a greener supply chain is one that quite simply never ends. Sustainability is a constant battle, and for those who do not recognize this reality, their efforts are little more than futile.

Modern logistics companies are constantly working to create new eco-friendly programs and processes. However, when starting down the path with a solid understanding of the concepts involved, there is a much greater chance of success. 

In this blog post, we will outline the path that logistics companies can follow that will provide better results when optimizing their supply chain business for improved sustainability and environmental responsibility. 


What’s the Goal for Creating a Greener Supply Chain?

It is often assumed that the reason for creating a green supply chain is optics-based. In some instances, this is correct. Pressure from environmental groups stimulates many transportation or manufacturing companies to implement environmentally conscious plans for the materials and equipment used to produce goods or move them within the supply chain. 

When a green supply chain plan is done to appease others, it usually fails and ends up costing that company millions of dollars in wasted efforts. As such, it is important for any business in logistics to have a solid understanding of why a green supply chain is important. This begins with establishing goals or reasons for creating a plan for improving environmental consumption. 

Noted below are a few general guidelines that responsible supply chain businesses follow to determine if their green supply chain efforts are worth the effort. 


Does it Help the Global Environment

It is estimated that 15% of daily greenhouse emissions are the direct result of freight movement in the United States.

However, in comparison to countries like China or India, US emissions represent a fraction of the global environmental impact. Air quality in both of the other two countries is a hot topic. Ultimately, they stem from poor emission regulations. This is actually indicated by the rapid spread of respiratory diseases like COPD in both countries. 

While it’s important to create programs that help reduce the number of emissions produced in each country, it’s more important to establish greener supply chain policies that have a larger impact on the global environment, as opposed to singular thinking.

One way that US-based companies can become more aggressive with their green supply chain operations is to partner with international trade countries. Likewise, other companies who focus their efforts on helping the environment as well make for great partners. 


Will the Green Program Help Save Resources?

It is just as important to verify that the efforts you create to improve sustainability will help save resources or reduce our dependence on toxic materials. Anytime a supply chain operation creates a sustainability or green supply chain change in philosophy, they should verify that this new directive will help to reduce dependence on environmentally damaging materials. One area specifically that all supply chain businesses can focus on is the use of packaging materials that are not recyclable. As you begin to create a green supply chain strategy, always verify the impact it has on saving natural resources. 


Best Practices for Green Supply Chain Policy Changes

Anytime a company plans on making changes to its logistics operation, there are a few important best practices to consider. The items listed below are deceivingly easy to put into place. However, it is these simple efforts that ultimately make the largest impact on sustainability efforts.


Packaging Materials

The best way to make a huge impact on the environment is by finding better ways of using recyclable materials. Using bubble-wrap as opposed to styrofoam for packaging can improve sustainability by 75%. Adding recycled paper in Cardboard as additional packaging support can also make a huge change. 


Improve Transportation Efficiency

Most companies spend millions of dollars a year on trying to reduce their carbon footprints. Furthermore, several of them are now using alternative energy to power their fleets. However, this usually does not impact current sustainability efforts. Striving to improve the efficiency of daily routing efforts will reduce fuel consumption, and thus produce a true sustainability result. 


Reduced energy consumption

Most supply chain businesses operate in very large warehouse facilities. Replacing outdated lightbulbs with more their modern LED counterparts might seem like a trivial thing. That is, until you realize how much more money you could save by integrating newer technology. Additionally, using Energy Star® rated HVAC systems can also make a huge impact on creating a greener supply chain.


Final Thoughts

We all have a hand in improving our global environment. Sooner or later, if we are not careful, we won't even have an environment to support logistics! If you ever had any doubts, just let that simmer for a bit.

This is why it's so important to have green supply chain strategies in place at all times.

Many supply chain businesses contact 3PL experts for assistance in these efforts. If you would like to learn more about exploring ways to improve your green supply chain operations, contact Redwood Logistics today.