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Six ways to make your logistics greener

Supply chains account for more than 90% of a company’s environmental impact. Making sure every phase of end-to-end logistics, from port to doorstep, has a sustainability goal can help reduce that impact.

Before setting actionable goals to become more eco-friendly, first assess your individual efforts and how they affect the broader picture. Sustainability comes from a corporate commitment to make changes that decreases our overall carbon footprint. One business or group can’t do it alone.

With buy-in from all affected stakeholders in your org, consider implementing these six strategies into your goals.

1. Sustainable packaging

Packaging is a great place to start making sustainable changes. Consider cutting down on the amount of packing material you use and choosing an appropriate size box or poly bag for the items going inside.

Source eco-friendly packaging options when possible, including cardboard boxes, paper filler and dunnage, and recyclable or compostable mailers.

Packing peanut alternatives made from plant materials are now available to offset the non-biodegradable fillers of the past. Biodegradable plastic options are also available for products requiring such packaging. Reusable plastic totes can be used in-house for warehouse shipments and storage, cutting back on one-time-use paper products.

Package Free 'I'm Not Trash' branded packaging
Example of recyclable packaging materials from Package Free Shop.

2. Place inventory closest to demand

Warehouse location has a huge impact on carbon emissions from transportation. Many warehouses leverage the infrastructure of urban areas close to major ports of entry to alleviate inventory long hauls.

When part of a large warehouse network, you’re able to place inventory as close to the end customer as possible. This provides more efficient shipping while also decreasing your carbon footprint (fewer miles traveled equals fewer CO2 emissions). Deliverr prides itself on localizing inventory to provide an exceptional customer experience through fast shipping, while also decreasing the last-mile distance.

U.S. map showing delivery performance of USPS priority pre peak season
Example of what delivery times look like before peak season hits.
U.S. map showing delivery performance during peak season
Example of what delivery times look like during peak season.

3. Make it a habit to live by the three R’s

Reduce, reuse, recycle—we all know it by heart. But are they being implemented across all facets of your business? Besides using recycled materials in your packaging, identify ways to better package and protect inventory using less materials altogether.

Prioritize reusing materials (totes, bins, packaging) at your warehouse when possible. Be sure to create areas where materials can be recycled and are easily accessible and labeled for employees to correctly sort. Consider making these pillars a priority and communicating your commitment to the three Rs to the employees responsible for these goals.

4. Find green energy sources

When it comes to fulfillment, selecting green energy sources can make your business run more efficiently and lessen your environmental impact, including:

Adding solar panels to warehouse roofs: This will not only save the environment, but your wallet as well, since it can significantly reduce monthly energy costs.

Using biofuel for your freight and transportation needs: This alternative to diesel and gasoline can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

It’s important to find out what clean energy sources are available to you locally, what best suits the needs of your business, and what can be budgeted for now and in the future. The goal is to stay flexible and responsive to more sustainable opportunities.

5. Select sustainable suppliers

Choosing suppliers for your business is a balancing act. On one hand, you want quality products and reasonable pricing. But on the other, you need eco-conscious supply options. It can be tricky to decipher which vendors encompass all these needs in one offering.

Seek out suppliers who are committed to their own sustainability goals and provide data to track their progress. Your team can also track certifications of potential vendors such as LEED certifications to ensure accountability for your partners’ efforts. The Green Business Bureau is also a trusted resource for determining if a business is implementing sustainable practices.

Your team should be upfront with suppliers (or potential suppliers) about your commitment to finding partners who share your goals. As with any decision, determine if their values coincide with your mission.

6. Seek out collaborations

Collaboration can be a powerful tool in logistics, especially when it comes to optimizing your fulfillment process. Transit-heavy industries can partner with other businesses to create a more sustainable way to ship products.

Partnering with a warehouse network that provides shipping and freight services allows for merging shipments headed to the same location to be into a single truckload. Through coordination of a 3PL, your business can benefit from the collective fleet that travels to hubs throughout the country.

At a time when ports are crowded, truck drivers are limited, and the workforce is stretched thin, becoming part of a network can give you access to quality service providers who have optimized the fulfillment process. Getting the transportation piece right with a single-source provider helps reduce the number of trucks on the road instead of outsourcing to separate freight entities.

Make sustainability a priority to set your business up for success

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to sustainability. The unique environmental impacts of each business require broad participation to make effective change. Making sustainability a priority will not only set your business apart but set your brand up for success in the future. Sustainability is not a fad, but an increasingly important part of doing business in a way that considers our social and environmental impact on the world around us. Consumers are rewarding sustainable businesses with their purchase dollars according to a recent study, and this isn’t letting-up anytime soon.

Get more sustainable supply chain tips from these articles:

How to prioritize sustainability in the eCommerce supply chain

6 eCommerce Trends to Leverage in 2022

5 Environmentally-Friendly Online Sales Strategies to Grow Your Audience and Boost Sales

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