There’s a difference between being green and being sustainable. You can go broke going green, but that’s not sustainable.
When leaders get serious they need to go after sustainability endeavors with their eyes wide open. Thus, sustainable logistics includes environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and financial prosperity for all stakeholders. These stakeholders include customers, suppliers, employees, and the company itself.
This is a societal issue, and the initial internal challenge is always engaging the culture of the company.
The hurdle for green practices is more difficult in distribution and warehousing than it is in manufacturing. In warehousing and distribution, we are a ‘pennies’ business.
We adopt new practices more gradually to recognize ROI (return on investment) because the ROI also tends to build at a slower pace than it does in other industries. When we perform ROI, we take into account our annual savings from the adoption of a green practice, and we divide this by the final installed cost of the solution.
The other element in this is the 35 percent tax credit is we can also presently gain from green technology investment. The present availability of tax credits and utility company rebates has helped to add urgency to many projects.
Best practice is to engage in a prolific recycling of the basics, but this may be the easiest step of the entire green logistics upgrade process. One easy way to moving forward is creating facilities that are now closer to state-of-the-art green practices - by installing modern lighting systems. An example of easy state of the art practices is using computer-controlled lighting to where you can turn off up to 250 zones in the warehouse from an iPad or iPhone.
Still, the warehousing and distribution industry sees a different type of low-hanging fruit for sustainability than manufacturing does.
In manufacturing, you can also include lifecycle design and tooling strategies in your sustainability practices. In contrast, warehousing is almost a service industry. The low-hanging fruit in our industry is anything that can be used to save energy, so our credo almost has to be ‘a penny saved is a penny earned.’