Climate and environmental issues currently affect all areas of activity. The distribution sector is not immune to numerous regulations concerning the impact of human activities on the environment. In addition to better management of each branch of the supply chain (transport, warehousing and supply), implementing greener logistics must take into account the measures to be applied throughout the chain. How to reduce the impact of logistics on the environment and thus benefit from a green supply chain? Our explanations in this article.
Why adopt the sustainable supply chain?
Logistics means all the means put in place by a company to manage the movement of goods and raw materials to supply customers. The field essentially includes supply, storage, delivery and above all transport. For logistics companies, objectives must be defined to optimize the supply of each product as soon as possible and under the best conditions.
But logistics, and more specifically transport, has an impact on the environment. It must be said that the process of transporting goods emits a large quantity of greenhouse gases. Businesses must then apply more ecological and more reasoned measures to manage the flow of goods. We also talk about green supply chain.
Moreover, consumers attach increasing importance to environmental issues of a company’s production chain. From packaging to delivery, a company has every interest in making efforts to minimize the carbon footprint of a product. In other words, more environmentally friendly logistics is also beneficial for a company’s brand image.
Sustainable logistics, what is it?
Green logistics or the green supply chain is one of the objectives of sustainable development. She gathers the means aimed at limiting the environmental impact of logistics operations. More than specific solutions, it is a global approach that generally concerns all logistics players, namely companies, workers, suppliers and consumers.
To achieve sustainable management, each company involved in logistics must opt for an effective method for limit the carbon footprint of its activity : packaging, transport, supply, etc. This requires better resource management, improved delivery operations and reduced production costs as well as optimized transport.
How to establish eco-responsible logistics?
Establishing eco-responsible logistics represents a set of solutions that concern several elements of the supply chain. However, integrating the changes upstream of certain operations is particularly interesting to create a context favorable to the reduction of pollution.
Plan the quantity of goods needed
Sales forecasting is the first step in establishing an ecological supply chain. A reliable forecast is an essential asset for a company, even if it remains exceptional in current practices. However, anticipating sales and therefore the need to produce allows a company to obtain raw materials in the right quantity, thus avoiding overproduction. This causes the general increase in production and increases the quantity of materials to be transported and the waste that this generates.
Conversely, poor anticipation of demand can also increase the circulation of goods in a given period. The need to increase productivity and the demands on transport generate additional pollution.
Organize the warehouse to streamline its operation
Developing a logistics strategy that respects the environment also requires good organization of your warehouse. This directly influences the physical flow of goods, which can have an impact on the energy consumption of the warehouse. Inadequate organization inevitably multiplies the movement of handling equipment. This then results in an increase in carbon dioxide emissions. On a large scale, this represents a significant source of pollution. A change at this level can have many positive effects on the whole chain.
Manage the use of the energy resource at its disposal
The warehouse needs energy for its operation and for storage. Optimizing the management of the use of energy resources in a warehouse also makes it possible to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of a logistics process. To do this, you can equip your warehouse with a renewable energy source and improve the insulation of your hangar to limit the use of heating or refrigerators. In the medium and long term, this reduces pollutant emissions without losing productivity.
Optimizing the means and conditions of transport
In the distribution chain, the vehicles used for transport are among the logistics operations that emit the most greenhouse gases. Thus, to transform this sector so that it is more respectful of the environment, it is necessary to optimize the routing of products. Cross-docking is one of the interesting alternatives for reducing the use of road transport.
Cross-docking consists of deliver goods directly to consumers without going through storage. This makes it possible to reduce the journey to be made to transport the goods and thus limit the pollution that this generates. Apart from this measure, other solutions also make it possible to optimize vehicle use for transport:
- Improve the filling rate of vehicles, without exceeding the authorized weight;
- reduce the number of vehicles to be used as much as possible;
- optimize routes;
- use less polluting vehicles.
Opt for more reasoned consumption
Integrating measures to create a less polluting environmental context is one of the main points to implement a greener supply chain. Thus, in addition to transport, special attention should also be paid to the end-of-life treatment of products. For large producers, offering packaging that is easier to transport, and also easier to use for customers, represents significant progress in green logistics. They must usually meet certain criteria:
- More compact packages to reduce the volume and weight to be transported;
- reusable or recyclable packaging;
- use of renewable raw materials.