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Creating a Green Supply Chain

Filed under: Green

There is a reason for the growing concern regarding climate change and the move to become more eco-friendly. Two million tonnes of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each second, 1.3 billion tonnes of waste is generated each year and international goals to limit global warming are becoming unattainable.

We are told more often than not; that every little bit we do to help the environment counts. But how do we implement ‘green’ practices into our supply chains and what is a green supply chain?

before and after shot

Green Supply Chain Concept:

A green supply chain can be defined as a supply chain that continually works to conserve energy and resources, therefore eliminating environmental waste in the manufacturing and distribution of a product.

How to create a Green Supply Chain


Changing your suppliers can help reduce carbon emissions and cost. Determine what sort of carbon impact your suppliers make and if they are doing anything to promote green supply chains. If you are willing to make a move to different suppliers who meet your environmental expectations, change to a local supplier who produces the least amount of carbon emissions.

Change sign

Improve packaging:

Review the type of packaging you use. If your packaging is complicated this will create waste. Use the least amount of material as possible which will still ensure the security of your package. Bio-degradable packaging is another option. This will ensure your customers are not liable for disposing of environmentally harmful materials.

Efficient planning of routing:

Establish optimal routes; is it faster to go via the highway or through the city? The shortest route may have more traffic which increases idling time and calls for more frequent acceleration. This is therefore less efficient then driving at a consistent speed. Approximately, every 3 litres of diesel consumed creates 10 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Inefficient planning and routing of transportation units and fleet operations lead to a large amount of wasted time and fuel. If every driver within a fleet of fifty trucks drove 8 kilometres less each day, it would save around 6.8 million kilograms of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Picutre of fuel


Preventative maintenance plans are an easy way to reduce harmful emissions and fuel consumption. Low tire pressure, clogged filters and incorrect wheel alignment all have a significant impact on fuel efficiency. Regular maintenance can reduce fleet operating costs by up to 15%, whereas a poorly maintained vehicle can produce up to 50% more harmful emissions than a maintained vehicle.

Energy conservation in the warehouse:

There are a number of improvements you can make to your warehouse. Installing energy saving motion sensors for lights, solar power and skylights are only some options. Ensure you reduce, reuse and recycle materials.

Solar power photo

Go paperless where possible:

Paperless invoices will convert documents into electronic data, automate processes and save a significant amount of time. With 170 trees destroyed for every 500,000 pieces of paper this is worth looking in to.

Driver behaviour:

Develop a corporate policy on driver behaviour. Fuel efficiency can be influenced by the way a vehicle is driven. Driver behaviour such as harsh breaking and sudden acceleration can be corrected. Installing engine monitoring technology can monitor engine idling time, speed and breaking distance amongst other driver behaviours.

Car stuck up tree bad driver

Optimise transportation mode:

Consider investing in vehicles that offer good fuel economy and reduced emissions. Ocean, truck and air transport each produce a different level of carbon output per unit. Consider both time and distance constraints and select the mode that will address both with minimum carbon footprint.

plane/car/boat picture

Going green is the right decision to make and if done correctly should reduce the overall costs involved in your supply chain. For a green supply chain to work, you must incorporate an environment within your company that supports the goals you have set forth. Introducing these goals to your organisation has never been more important, your wallet and not to mention the environment will thank you for it.

We have only scratched the surface on ways to create a green supply chain. It would be great to hear about some of the steps you and your company are taking to go green.


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