Written by: Andrés Diez
Author: Andrés Diez
Position: Corporate Logistics Manager (Peru headquarters)
Companies, as part of their commitment to environmental care and climate change management, have begun to develop logistics practices that are more friendly to the environment, framed in what is now known as “green logistics”, and that reach activities of planning, transport management, storage, inventory management, material handling, information and money flows.
The purpose of this way of doing business is to meet the needs of the market at an optimal cost, considering economic costs but without losing sight of the effects on the environment and the balance of resources. Assuming an approach of environmental sustainability, which reduces the ecological footprint, will allow companies to guarantee an integral and sustained growth in terms of competitiveness.
It is clear that in order to instill a philosophy of caring for the environment it is necessary to sensitize the entire organization, integrating this theme into strategic objectives and business values.
So, what is this great challenge? The first step is to measure the environmental impact that the operation generates. Then, management objectives must be established and, finally, suppliers and customers must be included in the objectives and goals set for this purpose.
We share some initiatives grouped in key logistics processes:
Companies have been using technologies that allow the reduction of fuel consumption; for example, 4 liters of oil burned by a motor produces approximately 11 kilograms of carbon in the atmosphere. Agreements are promoted to manage the delivery of products outside peak hours, and the use of means of transport that represent more ecological alternatives is combined, considering that air transport represents a greater impact on the carbon footprint (13%), transport road (7.5%), maritime (7%) and rail (0.5%).
Other practices seek to optimize the carrying capacity of the transport unit, in turn technological systems such as the TMS (transportation management system) / VRS (vehicle route system), pursue improvements in route optimization and efficiency in routes of up to 26% In this scenario, the company Walmart, worked with Unilever in a project called Tetris (optimization of spaces in the transport of merchandise). The main benefit of a thorough understanding of the pallet manufacturing process and its best use was the reduction by 56% (2,400 pallets per month), considerably reducing the use of transport units (250 vehicles and 103 tons of CO2 less) and not cutting 3 thousand trees per year.
There are some initiatives that help to save energy, such is the case of energy through solar panels located on the roofs of warehouses and the energy generated by renewable sources through wind mills. . In addition, there are other initiatives such as the construction of warehouses with thermal insulation coatings that optimize the use of air conditioning systems (heating / cooling) and the replacement of conventional lighting systems with fluorescent tube systems type T5, with greater efficiency, useful life and energy savings of up to 50.
One case of success in this aspect was that of the company Walmart (Mexico), which established an aggressive sustainability program with an investment of 11.3 million dollars, allowing 350 stores to connect to a wind power generation park, saving in water with 450 treatment plants in use and waste reduction. These practices were extended to 150 suppliers, reducing 40% of the costs that had a positive impact on the price of the products.
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It is necessary to implement technologies that reduce the risk of damage in the transport of goods and the release of chemicals harmful to the environment.
The coordinated work of the Marketing and R & D areas has been promoted in order to develop packaging with volume improvements and less use of materials in its preparation. As can be seen, there is a wide range of possibilities in which companies can venture under a focus with environmental commitment.
Contemplating the described scenario, the consulting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) conducted a study entitled “How supply chains will evolve before a world with energy limitations and low carbon emissions”, stating that the cost of mitigating climate change will vary between the 600 and 1,500 million annual dollars approximately, estimating that 90% of the aforementioned figure will come from the private sector. The referred study is pronounced stating that by the year 2030 companies should design a sustainable supply chain.
– It can be noticed that the implementation of logistical strategies of environmental sustainability could involve important investments because the challenge is to be creative enough to find the return. A first impression can be considered an increase in costs in the supply chain, but in a few years it will not be strange that it is more expensive to maintain the current energy matrices (oil or alternative energies).
– Currently, the “Green Logistics” is visualized as an innovative form of business proposal, but there is no doubt that it is only a matter of time before it is established as the standard.
– The State plays a fundamental role to promote change, providing benefits to those companies that favor the reduction of the carbon footprint or that use energy from renewable sources. The consumer is undoubtedly a protagonist in the promotion of consumption of products of companies with sustainable proposals.