Industry experts explain why green logistics are smart logistics

by Canadian Shipper

VAUGHN, Ont. — Adopting sustainable supply chain practices is no longer an option, it’s what you have to do to stay in business was the message delivered at an SCL breakfast meeting  addressing sustainability issues today.

” Green is not going away. It’s not a fad. In Europe they don’t even call it green. They don’t call it sustainability. They just call it the way to do business. And that’s what’s going to happen here,” predicted Brett Wills, a senior sustainability coach of HPS Inc. Wills was one of several speakers at the event, which also served as the launch of the SCL-RBC Royal Bank report entitled “Focus forward: Enhancing supply chain value with green logistics and transportation .”  The report – the second in the series – provides case studies while making a compelling  business case for making the transition to cleaner, greener and more efficient supply chains. It is being presented across the country this fall.

“Your customers are looking at (green solutions) and investing in them. So there isn’t a choice anymore, you have to do it,” advised Susan Moore, director of sustainability at Lakeside Logistics. Her company, a non-asset based 3PL dealing with many Fortune 500 companies and up to 4,000 carriers, is a pioneer in sustainable supply chain practices. Back in 2007 it began the process with a company project aiming at reducing its inhouse carbon footprint and soon became involved in helping carriers reduce their own carbon footprint, providing metrics of the process to its customers.

“Being an early adopter was good for us. Over the past five years we’ve had several prospects where when all things were equal, it was our robust sustainability program that set us apart in the marketplace,” Moore said.

While many of the largest companies have adopted sustainable supply chain practices, getting the smaller and mid-sized companies to wrap their minds around the time and costs necessary remains a challenge.

Wills advised the process must start with education adding that many still are under the false assumption that going green costs money.

“Start with getting people to see where the waste is in the organization.  Focus on the low hanging fruit (such as lower energy lighting) so you can see an immediate cost savings with little to no investment. There is tons of money being wasted in any warehouse.  If you can show this stuff doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to do, you can get the momentum going and use the initial savings to drive longer-term projects,” Wills advised. “At the end of the day if you don’t want to call this green, call it variable cost management. It’s a smarter way to do business.”

To Glenn Mauney, vice president, business development, GENCO ATC, one of the largest 3PLs in North America, the move to green supply chain practices is really nothing more than an evolution of the lean management techniques many supply chain professionals are already familiar with.

“Lean is the means to green. If you understand lean it’s very easy to embrace green,” Mauney said, pointing out that both seek to eliminate waste.

“It’s not a big jump that less waste is good for the bottom line and for the environment,” he said.

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