Sustainability is an important issue for all modern industries. We no longer live in a linear economy, if the needs of the present are to be met without compromising the needs of the future, industry must become more sustainable. Logistics and warehousing are two important aspects of industry which are often overlooked when thinking about how business practices can become more sustainable. In this article we will be looking at how and why logistics and warehousing can go green.
Why Logistics Needs to Go Green
Man’s influence on the climate through lifestyle and industry is severally effecting the planet’s ecosystem. Just some sustainability issues caused by mankind actions include: climate change, loss of biodiversity, reduction in raw material and energy resources, water supply stress and many more. If the human race is to mitigate these threats, it needs to become more sustainable.
One of the core drivers of pollution is industry. The greatest contribution to pollution has often been touted as energy companies, drilling for oil and burning fossil fuels. However, it is actually the supply chain and logistics sector which contributed the most to climate change and pollution. For instance, by looking at the carbon footprint of any organisation, the carbon emissions produced by the supply chain can account for up to 60% of the total carbon footprint. It is clear that supply chain, logistics and warehousing industries need to go green.
Sustainability is often seen as a barrier to progress, getting in the way of business and operations. However, this is simply not true. Sustainability is a core driver of efficiency. An organisation becoming more sustainable can mean it is reducing its waste, reducing its energy consumption, reducing its raw material use or maximising its output. Prioritising sustainability does not mean a company is sacrificing profitability, the two work in tandem to enhance an organisation’s operation.
Ways Logistics and Warehousing Can Go Green
The minimum an organisation can implement to go green is a good, efficient recycling system. When sending rubbish to landfill, valuable resources go to waste. Recycling is easy to implement by merely employing recycling bins around your organisation and educating employees in what they should or should not recycle.
2. Collaboration with Clients and Customers
One of the key drivers of sustainability is collaboration. By collaborating productively with clients and customers, distribution centres can be brought closer to customers, transport routes can be optimised and transport methods can become more efficient. For instance, working with customers can help convert supply chain practices from using carbon intensive rail solutions to inland shipping.
By enhancing automation in warehouses, sustainability issues such as energy use and carbon footprint are reduced. Greater automation leads to enhanced product quality, operation efficiency, customer satisfaction and many other financial incentives. However, automation also leads to significant sustainability efficiency. For instance, adopting a digital approach to operations, such as barcoding, can lead to a reduction in paper consumption. Automated warehouses can function without light or heat, therefore saving energy associated with manual labour.
4. Energy Efficiency
Besides automation, there are plenty of other ways to save energy in warehouses. Green warehousing practices include daylighting technologies, use of solar panel lighting, recovering heat from cold storage systems, switching to natural ventilation instead of electrically run ventilation and more. This energy reduction is not just reducing operational costs, but reducing warehouse carbon footprint.
5. Smart Warehouse Design
When constructing new warehouses or distribution centres, sustainability can be implemented directly into the design. Carefully planning warehouse layout maximises workflow and also enhances the ability of the warehouse to integrate new functions easily in the future. Warehouse design should maximise space to optimise operations for material handling. Operational data from current warehouses, as well as likely weather patterns for the facility location also needs collecting. By incorporating these factors into the design, warehouses achieve greater energy efficiency and productivity.