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Going Green: The Sustainable Supply Chain

Its Earth Day. If you have the time, go plant a tree. If youre like me, stuck working on such a prestigious holiday, take the time to go through your k...

Freddie Pierce
|Apr 22|magazine9 min read

It’s Earth Day. If you have the time, go plant a tree. If you’re like me, stuck working on such a prestigious holiday, take the time to go through your kitchen’s trash and pull out all the recyclables.

Here are some of the best green practices for supply chain management that can help the environment and save you money.

Converting to an automated system

According to greensupplychain.com, switching to a system that automates your supply chain transactions can have a positive effect on the environment and save you a good amount of money, making the automated system a smart supply chain management option.

Two years ago, Burton, the world’s leading snowboard company, made the switch to a completely automated system. In all, this supply chain management maneuver saved Burton an estimated four tons of wood, 30 million BTUs, 5,882 pounds of CO2, 22,219 gallons of wastewater and 1,909 pounds of solid waste. Those are figures that you shouldn’t turn a nose at, as converting to an automated system is a great way to move forward with your supply chain management.

Set standards for your suppliers

Part of successful supply chain management means keeping a close eye on your suppliers. Make sure they’re following all of the industry’s environmental standards. You don’t want to be connected with a company that is found to be dumping all of their waste into a natural reserve.

The Material Handling Industry of America says the best way to handle your suppliers is to keep track of their sustainability goals and metrics, and to help your suppliers succeed by making them accountable. Align your sustainability goals with theirs. Collaboration is always a good idea when talking about successful supply chain management.

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Switching to the plastic pallet

Most companies rely on the wood pallet to handle most of the transportation and storage aspect of their supply chain management. While wood pallets are cheap, they take a heavy toll on the environment.

Wooden pallets are naturally fragile and need to be replaced at an alarming rate. Most pallet companies will say these wooden pallets are easily recyclable, but the truth is these damaged pallets have very little recycling use, and are often burnt. This doesn’t save you money, and can be a wasteful method of supply chain management.

According to the Green Supply Chain Network, the best alternative to these traditional wooden pallets are plastic pallets. Lighter than their wooden counterparts, plastic pallets are easily recyclable. Your company can also join a plastic pallet pooling service, helping cut costs by not running an entire fleet of your own pallets, an excellent green alternative and a smart move when it comes to managing your supply chain.