10 Tips for Businesses to Green Their Supply Chain

A company’s supply chain can account for more than 90% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Many organizations use nonrecyclable materials that end up in landfills, which take a long time to break down and release these gases. Here are a few tips for creating an eco-friendly supply chain.



1. Invest in Recycled Supplies

Many companies rely on plastic packaging that’s not biodegradable and releases pollutants into the soil. Consider using alternatives, such as cardboard, paper or corrugated bubble wrap. 

These are biodegradable, versatile and cost-effective solutions. Plus, cardboard can store various products, from office supplies to clothing.

2. Go Digital

Reducing excessive supply chain processes cuts down on waste. Limiting paper and using mobile devices can increase efficiency. Technology can help you order the correct materials and prevent buying unnecessary products.

In addition, software management platforms create efficient employee schedules, reducing human error. Technology such as robotics can increase manufacturing efficiency and lower energy usage.

3. Limit Pictures and Text on Packaging 

Adding text customization creates a personal touch but can harm the environment. Using more ink and supplies wastes resources and energy. If you add text, use inks made from milk proteins instead of chemicals. Some substances, such as metal in ink, can be toxic to wildlife.

The printing process may even cause air pollution. Instead, put important information on the internal label and develop your marketing strategy.

4. Consider Reusable Containers

Extra packaging can be expensive, so consider using materials your customer can repurpose. This prevents single-use items from ending up in landfills. Consumers can reuse wrapping for gifts or plastic bags for grocery shopping.

Consider organic fabric instead of plastic bags. Another tip is saving any packaging supplies from vendors.

5. Sell More Products in Bulk

Sell your items in larger quantities to reduce shipping waste and energy consumption. Placing multiple products in one container reduces the amount of wrapping paper needed. It also allows you to sell to your customers at more affordable prices. 

The other benefit is limiting carbon emissions from vehicles. Taking fewer trips to shipping centers reduces air pollution and saves the company time. 

6. Provide Smaller Packages 

Ensure you have just enough material to enclose the item. Excess wrapping leads to more trash and overproduction, so use the correct sized box. Consider measuring items and container lengths ahead of time. 

Another tip is to buy from vendors that use less prepacking to save space. For example, if you own a restaurant, import more fruits and vegetables from local farms. 

7. Get Consumers Involved

Consumers today are more concerned about environmental impacts. They can help fuel change. For example, companies can reward people who bring reusable products to stores. Some coffee shops offer discounts for people who use their own cups.

Businesses can also advocate for change by connecting with policymakers. For example, companies that make electric cars can ask local politicians to use their vehicles. Research and educate the public on sustainable practices since lack of knowledge is a common issue.

8. Stick With Standard Carrier Services

Customized packaging can make your company stand out, but shoppers may only look at the wrapping for a short time and then toss it. It may not be worth the environmental impact because resources are needed to add specialized features, like printing your logo. 

Instead, consider standard carriers like UPS. These companies use recyclable materials, like cardboard boxes. 

9. Find More Eco-Friendly Shipping Methods 

Planes can make overnight shipping convenient and get products to your customer faster. However, this method can increase air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, airplanes emit just under 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. Instead, rely on more ground transportation, such as an electric company car. 

Suppose you’re using a freight truck. Add biodiesel derived from natural materials, like vegetable and animal fats. You could also use sea transportation for longer distances.

10. Work With Sustainable Vendors

Your suppliers can indirectly impact the company. Not using environmentally friendly practices can harm your company’s reputation.

Ensure the vendor supplies recycled wrapping and smaller containers. Some corporations also buy raw materials from developing countries. Some of these regions have looser environmental regulations, such as the improper disposal of chemicals. Look into international standards, such as the Global Reporting Initiative, to hold partners accountable.

How to Create a Green Supply Chain

Manufacturing and shipping processes waste tons of resources and energy. Some companies use excess packaging and nonsustainable practices. Consider these tips to create a more efficient company supply chain and do your part in protecting the planet’s health.

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