Green Logistics - Creating Supply Chain Sustainability
Can green logistics practices protect the environment and drive more profit? The answer is an emphatic "yes."
Surprisingly, the tools needed to achieve a more sustainable supply chain are the same as those used to drive operational efficiency. GENCO drives quality and continuous improvement through its Lean operating culture.
Lean is essentially a crusade against waste and inefficiency — too many steps, too much time, too much manual work. Well, what is green logistics other than a crusade against waste of another kind, such as unnecessary freight runs, excess packaging, and inefficient lighting?
GENCO applies Lean principles in its work with customers on green logistics initiatives. The results have proven very positive not just for the environment, but for our customers’ bottom lines.
Global CPG Company Leverages Recycling and Alternate Energy Sources to Reduce Carbon Footprint, Lower Operating Costs
It takes a lot of energy and materials to run a high-volume, 450,000-sq.-ft. distribution center. GENCO manages the facility for a large manufacturer of consumer goods. The two companies committed to making logistics sustainability a priority and identified three major initiatives to reduce waste in the operation. The results have exceeded expectations:
- A recycling program, started in 2007, has produced more than 5,706 tons of reusable corrugate, plastic, paper and metals — the equivalent of one truckload per day. GENCO and the customer share these savings to support community activities.
- About 18,500 pounds of shrink wrap are saved annually based on a change from 60-gauge to 75-gauge wrap. The reduced materials use is the carbon equivalent of lighting 2.5 homes for a year.
- In 2010, 25 hydrogen fuel cells were deployed to power forklifts in the warehouse, resulting in reduced reliance on batteries and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. To date, this green logistics initiative has lowered operating costs, reduced electrical consumption by 21%, and increased productivity.
GENCO Partners with Pharmaceutical Customers and Energy Company on Renewable Energy
Each year, GENCO’s healthcare logistics unit processes and ships 7 million pounds of pharmaceutical waste for incineration. To handle this process, GENCO partners with Covanta Energy in Indianapolis. Each day the Covanta plant converts thousands of pounds of waste material, including expired pharmaceuticals, into steam energy that is used to heat and cool parts of Indianapolis. The yearly impact of this waste to energy conversion is the equivalent of powering 220 homes a year.
Green Logistics and the Product Lifecycle
Although many opportunities exist to reduce waste and energy consumption within specific operations, a glance across the entire supply chain reveals an even larger green logistics opportunity.
Today, functions within the supply chain — manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reverse logistics, repair — often operate in isolation. Combining and optimizing these functions could have an enormous positive impact on the environment and the bottom line.
For instance, functions that are typically managed in separate locations — packaging and distribution, returns processing and product repair — are already being combined to cut cycle times by weeks, drastically reduce freight runs and carbon emissions, and save hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Focus on Sustainability Will Only Increase
The pressure to protect our environment and reduce energy consumption will increase in the coming years. As logistics professionals, we have only one choice: to be leaders in green logistics practices.
By applying the same methodologies we use to stamp out waste in warehouse and transportation operations, we can identify sustainable logistics practices that protect our planet and bolster our bottom lines.