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6 Sustainable Logistics Best Practices

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Sustainable Logistics Best Practices - Green Lightbulb
Vince Montanaro
Vince Montanaro
March 24, 2023

Implementing sustainable logistics best practices opens the door to all kinds of victories. Customers and shareholders will appreciate your high ethical standards and commitment to protecting the environment. By increasing efficiency, you reduce your operation's environmental strain and decrease costs. Because each company is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all way to achieve a sustainable supply chain. However, actualizing these six sustainable logistics practices within your company will lead to a happy outcome for customers, employees, and, most importantly, the environment.

1. Evaluate

Warehouse Managers evaluating

To determine where your sustainability can be improved, you need to analyze your logistics operations lifecycle from beginning to end. Focus on the areas with the most significant impact on the environment. For most companies, production and transit generate the most harmful emissions. However, the warehouse and office are also places where you can accomplish small changes to make a significant environmental difference. Seeing your company's processes is essential, but assessing sustainability standards within your industry can be helpful.

2. Relationships

Sustainable logistics best practices do not end within your company. To develop a sustainable supply chain, you must have conversations with your logistics partners to ensure they are also committed to the same high environmental standard. They might have more sustainable products or delivery options available.

3. Reducing Waste

Stack of recycled pallet

After seeing which areas in your supply chain need the most improvement, focus on reducing waste. Can anything that is currently being discarded be reused? That can include the wasted paper in the warehouse or needless miles in your last-mile deliveries. If your operation cannot reuse an item, find out if there is a practical reusable replacement. Establishing a company-wide circular economy culture can help cultivate waste-free logistics practices.

Sometimes, the waste is not a physical item going to a landfill but wasted opportunities. Making sure you are using the right pallets for your company can help save fuel during transportation as well as forklift energy. This all gets down to excess moisture within the wood. By understanding the difference between kiln dried vs pressure treated pallets, you can help your company to become more sustainable. Recycled pallets are also an option.

4. Transportation

Getting your inputs where they need to be and delivering your products to customers takes a toll on the environment. Reducing fuel consumption is among the top sustainable logistics best practices. One strategy to minimize your carbon emissions is to explore multi-mode transportation. Ships and rail are more fuel-efficient options than trucks and air. If over-the-road transit is unavoidable, focus on vehicle capacity optimization. While that sounds intimidating, it simply means preventing wasted space and avoiding empty truckloads.

5. Upgrading Your Fleet

Eco-friendly vehicles are another way to reduce your carbon footprint. That might entail upgrading your fleet to include hybrid, electric, or perhaps newer fuel-efficient options. Because that is not feasible for all operations, there are also a few ways to improve short-term fuel efficiency. Ensuring all delivery vehicles operate at optimal tire pressure is an easy way to maximize fuel efficiency. Another is to educate drivers on fuel-efficient driving.

6. Warehousing

Employee using a digital tablet

Practicing sustainability does not end with transportation – the warehouse also presents several excellent opportunities to institute sustainable practices. Think about how many sheets of paper are printed for every pallet in your warehouse. Is there a way to reduce that? Investing in eco-friendly forklifts, lift trucks, and appliances in the warehouse can also make a difference in your company's carbon footprint. To conserve water, install a rainwater collection system. Solar panels are another way to harness unused roof space.

Protecting the Future

Softening your company's environmental impact might mean changing processes, switching suppliers, and investing in eco-friendly facilities. However, sustainability is about more than offsetting your carbon footprint. Launching sustainable logistics means defining your company's social responsibility as indispensable to your day-to-day operations. Less tangible sustainable logistics best practices include planting trees, ensuring invasive species are not spread along your supply chain and building a good company for the planet and its people. With options like recycled or custom pallets, reaching out to a pallet making company can give your supply chain the best possible foundation for sustainability.