What Can Green Do for You?
How sustainability efforts change your supply chain for the better.
Going green is moving from a clichéd corporate phrase to simply the way business is run. Companies around the globe continue to make significant investments in sustainability that benefit not only the environment, but also the customers they serve. What does green mean for specialty logistics — and why does it matter for your supply chain? World Courier explores a few of the most critical questions shippers are asking when it comes to eco-friendly innovation.
How green is green?
How do you evaluate a specialty logistics partner in terms of sustainability? It’s complex, but consider your standards, as well as how the logistics provider measures itself. At World Courier, we often find that customers provide their own environmental statements, and our proudest moments come when we can comply because of our own strict policies. But there are a few areas shippers can focus on when selecting a logistics partner:
- Global scale. Operating consistently across the globe is complex but critical in the age of worldwide product development. Maintaining the strictest environmental standards means relying on a logistics partner that has not only global presence, but also the expertise and ability to understand and execute on local regulations.
- Certifications. What standard is your shipping partner operating to? The current global environmental standard is ISO 14001, which lays the foundation for companies to set up effective environmental policies. Certification requires annual audits conducted by evaluating compliance with an environmental manual — not only to check compliance in local offices, but also to evaluate the entirety of a logistics network. Compliance with the ISO 14001 environmental manual is compulsory; non- compliant companies risk their recertification each year.
- Measurable efforts. ISO 14001 certification also includes a dynamic component by which companies assess specific environmental initiatives year over year. The logistics provider decides what to evaluate on an annual basis, and initiatives can include everything from waste paper reduction and printer cartridge disposal to battery recycling. Each year, there’s something new to look at, all with the understanding that, in the transport world, some things simply cannot change. Under this component of ISO 14001, manuals define specific intentions that companies must demonstrate they investigated. World Courier, for example, found significant business and ecological benefits by moving from manual paper files to electronic systems. It’s initiatives like these that enable the best specialty logistics companies to leverage global reach to bring innovation in environmental ethics — and perhaps a new way of thinking — to remote countries across the world.
- Sound decisions. It’s no secret that sustainability is largely driven by reductions in a company’s carbon footprint. And for transport providers, fuel consumption is perhaps the most challenging component of green initiatives. Air transport, by nature, puts a strain on the environment that shippers may not be able to overcome when transporting products with time and temperature constraints across continents. How do you know your logistics provider is being mindful of excess waste? Solutions like World Courier Ground in Europe allow shippers to cut down on air freight in a continental or regional sense. These companies operate qualified temperature control vehicles that comply with the strictest EU regulations and emissions standards. The vehicles can also be qualified and monitored in such a way that returning empty is mitigated. As a vehicle becomes available for new freight, it can be dispatched to the closest place it can be loaded again. It is then full for the next leg of the journey and the conscious consumption of fuel.
What about packaging?
Boxes are top-of-mind when most companies start thinking about protecting the environment, and sustainability has driven significant innovation in packaging. Changes in packaging are creating cost savings, too. In fact, one change with the biggest industry impact is lighter boxes and packaging material. Not only does lighter material reduce waste, it also results in better freight prices. And while temperature control may limit what companies can realistically do to reduce material and package weight, multi-use packaging options are seeing an uptick in widespread use.
Across the globe, World Courier offices leverage local expertise to ensure material is completely qualified according to international standards and managed within the network on a global scale. That means multi-use solutions need not return to their origin, producing additional cost savings.
In addition, packaging innovators are working to leverage the advantages of both rigid and more lightweight single- use solutions. The most innovative, environmentally friendly solutions might have only a small single-use component, while using advances in other materials and design to improve metrics in both shipping weight and temperature-control capabilities.
What is the connection between ethics and value?
Companies that provide patient-minded supply chain solutions for pharmaceutical manufacturers running clinical trials recognize the importance of operating responsibly. With so many shipments impacting patient lives, a trusted transport provider is accustomed to being tasked with operational requirements that align with shippers’ ethical obligation to providing safe, effective products and samples. The value of a specialty logistics partner is wrapped in the human element, and more and more, protecting people on a global basis makes sustainability a high-value attribute in any partner.
Do sustainability and specialty transport go hand-in-hand?
In a word, yes. Sustainability is increasingly becoming a measure of quality and social responsibility for any company. And one could reasonably argue that, without quality — a commitment to flawless execution that reflects the most efficient and effective movement of the most time-and temperature-sensitive products — the “specialty” part of specialty transport just doesn’t exist.
What’s more, if quality is the intersection of value and cost, thinking about sustainability in terms of cost-effectiveness makes eco-friendly efforts critical for specialty transport. And while going green is certainly ethical, consider the bottom line disadvantages associated with not operating responsibly in the transport field. Wasteful operations in the supply chain — excess power consumption, packaging waste and fuel inefficiencies — can translate to higher overall costs or reduction in quality measures.
It is clear that the idea of “green” is moving into both the headlines and people’s heads. Simply put, the transport industry cannot ignore environmental concerns anymore. The most forward-thinking transport providers will continue to stay one step ahead of both competition and regulatory development. They’ll watch and innovate on their own accord, never waiting to be told what’s next. And looking to the future of earth-friendliness is a win-win for worldwide business.