Being environmentally conscious has become a centerpiece of discussion for both consumers and governing bodies. Enter the zero waste movement founded by consumers with the goal of sending as little waste as possible to landfill in their personal lives through sustainable purchasing habits.
As regulations tighten, staying ahead of the green curve is a great way to make strong ties to customers like those who are part of the zero waste movement, but what often surprises businesses is how sustainability can decrease their bottom line long term as well. The supply chain is a huge opportunity to reduce waste for a business, so we’ve put together a list of sustainable warehousing solutions inspired by the 5 R’s of zero waste:
The first key to creating a more sustainable warehousing solution is to ensure you’re not bringing in waste unnecessarily. By making a commitment to refuse unnecessary products and packaging, there is less to contend with at the end of its lifetime. Refusing waste and wasteful ideas opens up your business to creative solutions to reduce your business’ carbon footprint and costs.
One of the first questions to ask as your business adopts zero waste warehousing is what can be eliminated? But even if you’re unable to eliminate waste, there is likely a means to reduce it by choosing leaner packaging, biodegradable alternatives, or renewable sources of energy. JIT offers customized packaging solutions to achieve these kinds of big changes, and cross docking practices can improve efficiency shipping methods. Well-organized inventory management strategy can even reduce labor needs with ABC product priorities.
If you’re unable to refuse or reduce certain kinds of logistics waste, another option to reach zero waste is to reuse. This is especially functional for reusable packaging. JIT owns totes that can be utilized to launch a local returnable totes program, which can also collect other reusable packaging in direct contact with your products much like the milk bottles and crates that used to be so popular.
These returnable packages, as well as inbound manufacturing supplies and ecommerce returns, create opportunities to transform your supply chain into a supply circle. By taking advantage of often empty trucks during their return to the warehouse, your business can reuse the space to create efficiencies that reduce costs.
If there are materials that absolutely must be used and then discarded throughout your product’s logistics journey, the next best option available is utilizing recyclable materials. Cardboard, paper products, durable plastics, and metals can be recycled in most municipalities provided they are sorted correctly. Another recycling option available to B2C businesses is participating in a Terracycle program, which is a service that will break down the components of more complex packages with multiple materials into their individual recyclable parts and follow through on their reprocessing into new products.
The final option available to ensure a zero-waste warehousing solution is composting. By composting any foodstuffs, animal biproducts, dust and lint, or oil-soaked paper products, the natural process of biodegrading can occur, which isn’t possible in a typical landfill. These standards are largely unnecessary for a warehouse adhering to FIFO and common cleanliness standards. JIT Services tracks FIFO by the manufacturer’s date code to ensure they’re distributed by their expiry dates. But accidents do happen, and it is important to have a knowledgeable staff and means of composting available on site to decrease landfill usage.
The zero waste movement may have been founded by consumers, but these renewed ideas of practicing sustainability create new opportunities for businesses to stand out and stay ahead of waste management regulation. A bespoke warehouse strategy for your business can find the right balance to improve customer experiences, increase efficiency, and decrease costs in one fell swoop.