Many supply chain operators and distributors have now realized the true value in sustainable, green initiatives. Improving sustainability is good for the environment and helps mitigate harmful effects, but it also makes the average workplace building a safer, healthier environment for personnel. In addition, it often helps lower operating costs, mitigates resource consumption — energy, especially — and even aids in boosting efficiency. It also fosters stronger relationships with surrounding communities and customers.
There’s no question about it: Honoring more sustainable operations is the right thing to do, especially when it comes to lessening the harmful impact on the environment and community. Realistically, companies are always going to be more interested in the practical side of its adoption — what business-related benefits does it offer?
Here are a few that may be considered uncommon or unique:
1. Financial Incentives
Most states or regions offer financial incentives for adhering to green initiatives. Options available are obviously going to depend on the location of the business. Some opportunities will even provide relocation funds and credits, provided the company in question builds its new facility in line with environmental compliance standards.
Certain energy-saving investments, for example, will net organizations a tax credit and lessen the financial burden of going green. This serves as yet another reason for upgrading existing operations and facilities to meet more sustainable practices.
2. Zero-Footprint Operations
A key element of increased sustainability is reducing the dependency on conventional resources such as fossil fuels. The best way to make that happen is to implement or outfit renewable energy sources within or near a facility. By installing a solar panel field on a roof of a large warehouse, a company could eliminate its dependency on the conventional power grid. Even better, some of that generated electricity can be rolled back into the network to boost efficiency and lower total costs. Google offers a unique tool for calculating the savings estimate of roof-based panels.
Collectively, it helps push the organization closer to a zero-carbon footprint, or at least a minimally invasive one. The most prominent benefit of achieving this is a boost to financial success. Less money is going to the consumption of energy, and it can be rolled back into the business or realized as profits.
3. Less Waste or Better Handling of It
Waste, of all forms, is a natural byproduct of any business. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about electronic or manufacturing waste or bio-waste from various processes. It must be properly disposed of, which comes with its own set of financial burdens.
Another key element of a more sustainable operation, however, is the drive to a smaller environmental footprint, including less waste. Sometimes less isn’t always achievable, which is when recycling or proper handling comes into play.
Some operations incorporate the use of recycled or refurbished goods to not just repurpose waste but to also provide a better disposal opportunity. In construction, for example, the use of precast concrete and steel is becoming much more common. It stretches far beyond that, however. Reusable or recyclable pallets, containers and storage, more efficient use of goods and more durable longer-lasting components also contribute to increased sustainability. These are all valid solutions for reducing total waste production.
4. Smarter Facilities
True sustainability is about the collective improvement of all operations and facilities. This doesn’t just mean installing renewable energy sources or reducing waste, but also creating more efficient processes. Even something as simple as indoor lighting can be transformed into a more sustainable practice through automation. Lighting systems connected to motion sensors will automatically turn off when no one is nearby, cutting down on total energy consumption. It may not seem like much, but when you’re talking about hundreds or thousands of lights positioned throughout a facility, the costs savings can be monumental.
It helps to highlight another benefit of more sustainable operations, which is smarter, more efficient facilities. With the help of modern technologies like IoT, businesses can make better use of resources like water, energy, gas and other utilities.
5. Faster Time to Market
Due to the efficient nature of sustainable practices, distribution and supply centers will see an increase in time to market. Goods are tracked more openly, automation tools and processes help move them along at faster speeds, and everyone involved is much more informed, including partners and vendors. It’s essentially a more organized environment as a result of the changes made, which contributes to better, faster delivery of the goods within.
Green Is the Way to Go
Just looking at the rising costs of energy consumption alone, it makes sense to come up with a more sustainable operation that not only relies on less conventional power, but also eliminates dependency. Green, sustainable practices for any company is the way to go, especially for a company that hopes to thrive in the future. The supply chain and distribution is no exception, which often sees rampant and inefficient use of resources. It’s time to get smarter and be better.
Guest blogger – Megan Ray Nichols
Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance technical writer. She also runs her own blog, Schooled By Science, a blog dedicated to making complicated scientific topics easier to understand. You can follow Megan on Twitter @nicholsrmegan to keep up with the latest news