Interest in ESG (Environmental, Social Responsibility and Governance) has grown exponentially in the past few years, and supply chains hold some of the most significant opportunities for sustainability breakthroughs and advancements. That is especially important as consumers increasingly choose to spend money with companies focused on sustainability and the environment.
The 2022 Third-Party Logistics Study found that 85% of companies using a 3PL and 83% of 3PL providers agree that ESG is included in their organization’s supply chain and growth strategies. However, the study also found that 67% of 3PL users and 52% of providers felt the greatest challenge associated with ESG programs-is the cost of implementation.
The 2022 Third-Party Logistics Study found that 85% of companies using a 3PL and 83% of 3PL providers agree that ESG is included in their organization’s supply chain and growth strategies.
Fortunately, there are several simple ways to increase sustainability within the fulfillment process.
Use Eco Friendly Sustainable Packaging
Using recycled, renewable, biodegradable or eco friendly packaging is an easily achievable way to increase sustainability. It is possible to use recycled tape, dunnage paper and boxes.
Right Size the Packaging
If you’re using the wrong size box, you’ll need more dunnage to protect it and more cost to ship it. Now would be a good time to examine your packaging to determine if you are using the correct size box or if you can move to a smaller package or polybag. Shipping mailers, such as polybags or bubble mailers, offer a lower impact and more cost-effective alternative to boxes. They could also help you reduce your parcel shipping cost.
Recycle Inbound Boxes/Packages
Implementing a successful recycling program will show suppliers, vendors, and employees you’re truly focusing on being green. “Typically, we see on a very basic level, that almost all the packaging material in our distribution process can be recycled, including the tape,” said Kasia Wenker, director of supply chain solutions for ITS Logistics.
“Typically, we see on a very basic level, that almost all the packaging material in our distribution process can be recycled, including the tape.”
Replace Pack Slip with a Pack Slip Label
Digital communications can eliminate packing slips completely. Order information can be sent via email confirmation, and consumers can print it out if they need to make a return. “Eliminating pack slips is something you can do today to eliminate or reduce the amount of paper used,” Wenker said.
Increase Energy Efficiency at your Warehouse or Fulfillment Center
Warehouses and fulfillment centers provide several opportunities to incorporate sustainable practices and reduce energy consumption. Warehouses typically utilize hundreds of lights. Locations can switch to LED lighting to cut down on energy demands. They can also use sensors, so lights turn on or off based on activity. Facilities may also be able to adjust the minimum required light level by using dial-up calculations to identify the necessary lighting levels for a particular area. Other opportunities include low-flow plumbing, waterless urinals and water bottle fill stations. Xeriscaping-the process of landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need for irrigation-also increases sustainability.
Opt for Reusable Pallets
Reusable pallets are an option in some operations. The pallets are made from recycled plasticand can be more durable than a wooden pallet.
Utilize a Strong Inventory Management System
Inventory management plays a critical role in improving sustainability. First, unsold inventory can create deadstock-items that have expired, become obsolete or are out of season. For many companies, the deadstock becomes waste that could be avoided. A good inventory management system gives you visibility into inventory to help increase order accuracy, identify slow-moving inventory, improve demand forecasts and ultimately reduce inventory waste.
Avoid Split Shipments
Keeping inventory in check can also help you avoid split shipping and allow you to fulfill an order from a single location. You’ll use fewer packaging materials and save on distribution resources and transportation.
Reduce Transportation Emissions
Cutting carbon emissions on the road is a well-known way to reduce your carbon footprint. According to the 2022 Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, there are numerous opportunities to decrease environmental impact through transportation management, such as route optimization, capacity utilization, and improved vehicle scheduling and management. You can also choose to utilize a SmartWay provider. Registered SmartWay Carrier Partners measure, benchmark and track their efforts to increase efficiency and fuel economy and have the documentation to prove it. Super-single tires, cab wind fairing packages, light-weight aluminum wheels, lightweight trailers with side skirts and e-track systems for load bars that improve cube utilization, and anti-idling technology also improve fuel economy and sustainability.
Kasia Wenker, Director of Supply Chain Solutions