Why It’s Not Easy Being Green – Challenges the Supply Chain Faces

Green Supply ChainKermit the Frog was right – when it comes to a fully-green supply chain, “it’s not easy being green”. Little did Jim Henson’s creation know how accurate that statement would be in 2018. The green supply chain movement gained momentum at the turn of the 20th century when leading logistics providers determined that it would be cost-efficient and socially-responsible to implement environmentally-friendly changes in their operations. While many supply chain partners proudly display their green stickers and logos on websites, the truth is that the challenge to ‘Go Green” never ends.

Today’s trucking company, manufacturer, distributor, and retailer faces multiple challenges in the ever-present battle to operate an environmentally-friendly operation. However, by understanding the public’s perception of a green supply chain and the major reasons why it’s a good idea to find creative ways of going green.

What’s the Benefit of a Green Supply Chain?

When a logistics company or anyone in the supply chain operates a green operation, it provides multiple benefits; not only for the company – but for the globe. Here are a few of the most important reasons any company should strive for a green operation.

Helps the Environment: Did you know that the daily movement of freight across the US accounts for slightly more than 15 percent of greenhouse emissions? But did you also know that the real culprit to the environment is not greenhouse emissions – but NOx Pollution? NOx is produced from the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen gases in the air during combustion, especially at high temperatures. In areas of high motor vehicle traffic, such as in large cities, the amount of nitrogen oxides emitted into the atmosphere as air pollution can be significant. Transportation companies need to find creative ways of reducing particulate emissions while reducing NOx as well.
Can Save Money: Some green operations might cost some money initially but will eventually save money in the long run. Using recycled materials for packing boxes, improving fuel economy, and more can extend your operational dollar.
The PR Factor: This is the 5,000-pound gorilla that nobody really likes to talk about – but honestly, it’s the leading benefit for going green. Today’s consumer is becoming increasingly aware of companies who operate with a dedication to environmental protection. Being proactive about green operations helps improve Corporate Responsibility in the public’s eye.

What are the Common Supply Chain Green Best Practices?

Here is a pop quiz, can you tell us what the US federal guideline standards are for being an “official” green company? That’s ok – we’ll wait...because the truth is there is no official cut and dry answer to this question. This statement of fact is what causes many companies a lot of frustration, simply because it’s difficult to determine what standards they should strive to achieve. However, there are some best practices that any supply chain partner can follow to be considered operating in “the green”.

Packing Materials: Making the simple swap from Styrofoam to bubble wrap (which is 75% recyclable) is a great way to hop on the green bandwagon. Using recycled paper and cardboard as packing stuffing to protect your items is also a great place to start.
Cleaner Burning Vehicles: Transportation companies that use low-sulfur diesel or alternative energy source vehicles are also considered ‘green’. Some emissions-controlled equipment can also be considered by many as ‘green’.
Improved operational efficiency: Saving resources on manufacturing is another area that companies can focus on to increase their green footprint. Using recycled and environmentally-friendly lubricants in manufacturing, recycled metals, and other green materials help improve your standing in the green supply chain.
Reduced energy consumption: It’s also considered green to reduce dependence on electricity and other energy resources. Simple acts like replacing regular light bulbs with LED lights, using solar power, and being conservative with AC and heater use are great ways of being energy efficient.

While there are several environmental groups and advocacy organizations who strive to enlighten companies about being green, working with an experienced 3PL can simplify the ‘going green’ process for anyone operating in logistics. A third-party logistics provider has the experience and resources to help a manufacturer, transportation company, retailer and more operate with green intentions.