Newsflash – global carbon emissions have almost doubled since 1970. And with environmental concerns sweeping the planet, it’s inevitable that we will all have to move to more sustainable practices in time. Logistics and warehousing are no exception. Fortunately, there is a vast array of options when it comes to sustainability in these sectors.
Read on as we explore how businesses can make their logistics and warehousing more sustainable.
Logistics and warehousing emissions
According to the International Transport Forum (ITF), freight transportation – including land, air and sea – accounts for 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Collectively, that makes it the highest-emitting sector aside from fuel and power production. Even worse, the ITF projects a fourfold increase by 2050. And that doesn’t include warehousing and transhipment, which are thought to equal as much as a quarter of transport emissions.
That doesn’t necessarily mean companies don’t care about their environmental footprint though. A 2013 study found that 93% of professionals described sustainable procurement as “a critical or important objective” for their business. On top of that, 91% of them were integrating this into their process for selecting suppliers. As a result, there’s now pressure building for warehousing and logistics providers to put similar emphasis on sustainability.
Areas for improvement
The good news? There are many ways that logistics and warehousing could become more sustainable, including:
It’s no secret that plastic pollution and landfill shortage are major concerns for the environment. And packaging is a major contributor, with each person in the EU generating an average of 162.9kg of packaging waste in 2014.
Businesses can reduce this by stripping down packaging, removing any unnecessary bulk and aiming to use lighter, recyclable materials. This benefits the companies themselves, making transport easier – which also reduces emissions in the long run.
Transportation is clearly the biggest contributor when it comes to logistics emissions. But there are myriad ways to reduce the environmental impact of transportation:
- Fuel efficient vehicles
- Downsizing vehicles for smaller loads
- Optimising transport routes
- Reducing journey frequency by consolidating deliveries
- Choosing different modes of transport where appropriate. For example, SKF reduced their annual carbon emissions by 230 tonnes, by using trains for transport between Gothenburg and Belgium
Linking to transport, storage can reduce the need for long journeys. Choosing several smaller storage facilities with a distribution centre as opposed to one central warehouse, for instance, can move stock closer to customers or clients.
Consider the energy use within storage facilities too. Are they using energy efficient equipment, or even renewable energy sources? Last year, Amazon pledged to cover a number of its warehouse rooftops with solar panels. Warehouses can even be assessed by BREEAM, which provides third-party certification of buildings based on a range of sustainability measures.
There’s a lot to be said for recycling warehouse waste. Collectively, warehouses produce a huge amount of waste from discarded packing and packaging materials, as well as general waste from staff. Ensuring recyclable materials are disposed of properly could have a significant positive impact on the environment. Sustainable warehouses can also look to reuse some items, such as wood pallets and plastic crates.
Another form of recycling has recently been used by some companies, however. The likes of ASOS, H&M and M&S have launched clothing collection schemes. These schemes aim to resell clothes or reuse them by recycling the textile fibres. With similar projects from companies like HP, who collect ink cartridges for reuse, product collection and recycling is yet another area companies can look at to improve sustainability.
Sustainability vs profitability
So, what’s stopping businesses becoming more sustainable? A big factor is money. Many companies worry that there is a play off between sustainability measures and how profitable their business will be. In simple terms, they think things like recycling and clean energy will cost more and eat away at their profits.
In contrast, a World Economic Forum report found that companies could actually increase profitability. Looking at 25 companies who focused on improving sustainability, they found that they were able to increase revenue by as much as fifth while reducing supply chain costs by up to 16%.
Where does collaboration fit in?
At Bis Henderson Space, we have identified huge potential benefits for sustainability from a collaboration approach to warehousing. By enabling collaboration on facilities, we reduce the need for additional buildings, and reduce the use of resources and eliminate waste.
As part of the Bis Henderson Group, we maximise our relationships to find the perfect space for every business. Businesses can therefore unlock capacity not commonly available. We can quickly source the additional warehouse space and operational services you need, whether that be environmentally friendly transport or green storage solutions, to make sure you get the sustainable site you require.
Additional benefits to a collaboration approach:
- Operations are enabled in the right location, reducing transport costs and emissions
- Sites can be identified with:
- Energy efficient lighting
- Recycling facilities
- Sustainable construction
- Efficient use of resources: power, water and heating or cooling
Talk to the team
Our unique project managed approach means that we will educate ourselves on your specific requirements – and assist you with the entire end to end process. Working with our clients to understand what is important to them, we find sites that enable them to achieve their specific objectives. If you’re looking to work on the sustainability of your business, contact us now for an informal chat.