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“Going green” is a common point of discussion among business owners these days, and you might have a little more control over it than you expect.

Generally, when someone working in warehousing or distribution wants to make efforts to start going green, they think they can only affect change in their own warehouse. This isn’t the case – a little reaching out and reorganizing can do a lot for the environmental-friendliness of your entire supply chain if you know what to look for. If you want to make sure all of your business processes are green, sustainable, and affordable for your bottom line, here’s a few tips we’ve put together:


Open a dialogue with your suppliers. The first step in ensuring a green supply chain is to start a conversation with your suppliers to learn more about their processes. Ask them questions like:


  • How do they recycle unused or discarded products?
  • Do they have procedures in place along their own supply chain to reduce excess waste? (Lighter-than-load trucking, waste reduction during manufacturing, etc)
  • Are their shipments made in an environmentally friendly way? (Fuel efficient vehicles, training classes for drivers, bulk shipping, etc)


Asking these questions will help you get a better idea of what your suppliers do to better the environment – and may help you find new suppliers if your current distributors aren’t quite meeting your standards.


Review your own warehouse practices. After working with your suppliers, start taking a look at your own internal processes and see what can be changed. Do you have extra product that winds up getting disposed of or destroyed due to a lack of shelves, or warehouse storage that creates a lot of waste? Do you have a lot of wasteful, power-draining industrial freezers or cold storage areas that need to be fine-tuned to prevent electricity overuse? Are your employees in the habit of turning off lights and computers when no longer in use? (It sounds a little childish, but you’d be shocked how much it can help both your bottom line and your environmental impact.)


Design new packaging and shipping processes. Further along the supply chain, a common source of environmental waste is wasteful boxing, packaging, and shipping. When sending out packages, try to avoid using overly-large boxes and padding them with too much packing material to avoid waste and creating a greater mess that has to be disposed of after the package has arrived. Review your own outbound shipping (trucks, boats, etc) to make sure each of them are using their space effectively and not creating extra pollution with wasteful trucking, unoptimized routes, or frequent stoppage.


Make sure your customer can recycle it all. Obviously, there’s no way to guarantee what your customer will do with the packaging you use at the end of your supply chain, but you can make it easier for them to make an environmentally-sound decision. If you ship direct to customers, or if you know the end-user businesses you ship to have a recycling program in place, make sure to package these shipments with entirely recyclable materials to give them the option to safely recycle all the materials when they’re done.

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