Green logistics seems to be a topic of conversation that is making the rounds quite a lot lately. Companies in the field of logistics and those who strive to optimize their supply chain are becoming more interested in environmentally friendly operations and finding ways to lessen their impact upon the planet. Hopefully, the term Green Logistics will disappear in the future and it will simply be called logistics, but in this precise moment, we still look at it as novel and something that we may or may not worry about just yet.
Thinking about the environment and your company’s impact upon it is not something new, however, and as you have probably read in one of our previous articles here at David Kiger’s Blog, green logistics are something that the very best companies carefully observe in their daily operations.
What is Green Logistics?
Green Logistics refers to an attempt to reduce, control and monitor the ecological impact of logistics in general. This directly relates to aspects like pollution of the environment and consumption of resources. It is undeniable that transportation, for example, has a negative effect on the environment and scientific research has shown that global warming is a much more imminent threat that initially believes it to be. Good transportation alone accounts for more or less 8% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide and that is without taking into consideration freight management and warehousing operations.
The main objective of logistics is to find ways to coordinate activities like freight transportation, storage, management of inventory, materials handling and all related information processing. While accomplishing this, a proper logistics operation wants to meet the customer’s needs while at the same time reduce the costs to the organization. When we used to talk about cost, we would think only about the monetary setback, but we have a tendency to ignore the cost associated with the environment in terms of climate change, pollution, noise, accidents and other factors. The purpose of green logistics of to find ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the organization in both internal and also external operations that are subcontracted to other suppliers.
There are many ways that companies can implement their operations to think greener and to positively impact the environment in the way the manage logistics.
One of the ways to begin this type of transformation is by examining customer behaviors closer and find out what they are willing to do for the environment and how they feel about the changes it may bring to getting the products they want; this, for example, can be illustrated by examining the way products are packaged and the life cycles of those products themselves.
After gathering this information, companies can re-engineer the way packaging is done and study the logistics of it, the retail portion, the way the users interact with this aspect before getting designers involved if necessary in order to study alternatives.
Packaging layers and unnecessary packing material can also be reduced without having to affect the product’s performance and without losing the functions of the packaging itself. Another strategy can also lead to giving packaging another use after the product has been removed from it.
Another excellent way to implement green logistics easily is to consider warehouse layout optimization. Warehouses that are organized properly, take into consideration the best ways to accommodate products so as to minimize the amount of traffic and efforts that it takes to move merchandise. This can seem from things like proper placement of fast moving products, all the way to creating picking routes that best utilize the movement of forklifts and operators in order to reduce the amounts of fuel spending and efforts employed in daily operations.
It is important to understand that every single link in the supply chain affects the environment differently, so the proper statistics must be measured in order to come up with plans that can positively affect the efficacy and efficiency of your particular operation.
From the earliest stages of conceptualization and design of a product, there is an input of resources that must be considered in order to realistically analyze the true impact we have on the environment. This is why green logistics is becoming so important; customers are no longer disconnected from your process and oblivious to what goes on behind close door. Today’s clients are informed and critical about the choices they make, as recent developments are instilling a stronger sense of ownership for our environment and a heavier responsibility that we must carry on our shoulders as consumers and direct influencers upon what happens to the planet. Finding ways so that thinking about the environment is not mutually exclusive from accomplishing customer satisfaction and a reduction of costs while maximizing outputs, should be the goal of every responsible operation and organization seeking to have a truly competitive supply chain.
* Featured Image courtesy of Sandia Labs at Flickr.com