A recent energy review has suggested that industrial and transportation sectors account for over 50% of all carbon emissions in the UK. This means that careful reviews of energy usage within the supply chain can provide substantial opportunities for improvement.
In other countries around the world, government regulations require companies to cut their energy usage or face fines; and the evidence suggests that these kinds of fines wouldn’t be entirely unrealistic in this country. Volatile energy costs drain logistical resources; and rising pressures from customers, shareholders, government organisations and advocacy groups means that companies are adapting their supply chain to suit a more green approach.
Making any significant changes to the structure or management of the supply chain is never a quick fix, so we’ve outlined five ways in which you can begin to transform your supply chain for the better.
Making small changes to your products can make a big difference. This means something as simple as reducing weight, resulting in energy consumption and waste being reduced. New technological advances mean that some components and ingredients can be completely eliminated, which therefore, shortens the supply chain.
When you purchase online and you arrange to have all of your order sent at once, it saves the company money, as well as you. This simple idea can be applied to supply chain management. This can often require a fair chunk of time set aside to plan and initiate these changes, but overall it will be worth the extra effort.
Over time, trade and distribution routes become routine and stagnant. These routes are often no longer applicable as they were in the early stages of planning, so now they end up costing more time and resources. Factoring in the real time costs and emissions can often lead to a more realistic transportation strategy. The latest in software planning tools estimate the co2 emissions and plan the quickest and most efficient routes.
New materials and designs are allowing companies to make packaging smaller, lighter and more compact. This allows shipping containers to store more, and trucks are then able to carry more in a single load. Improved packaging can reduce the recycling burdens by eliminating unnecessary packaging from the supply chain. For example, Tesco recently began providing lighter weight wine bottles, which actually reduced the annual glass usage by nearly 3 tons and lowered the carbon emissions from transportation by over 4 tons.
View the Life Cycle
Take a step back and view the entire life cycle of a product. Where is the energy being used? How can you make significant changes to improve it? Energy used while a product is in service can be significant. A similar assessment of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream showed that only 2 percent of its carbon output came from manufacturing – the bulk, 46 percent, came from retail operations such as refrigeration.
Reducing waste and decreasing pollution is becoming an important factor with any business. Investors, customers and suppliers are increasingly focused on an environmentally friendly future, so even if you haven’t quite implemented everything you intended to, fear not, the effort and a few small changes hold a lot of sway with those you’re trying to impress.