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Attending to the social and economic impacts of the supply chain

By Jonathan Wright | 05/18/2010 | 6:30 AM

My blogs so far have mostly focused on carbon reporting and decarbonising the supply chain. There is no doubt that in supply chain management we have a significant role to play in innovating and optimizing our end-to-end networks in these areas.   However, I am also focusing more on the social and the economic impact of supply chains, which are equally important. These areas are increasingly being taken into consideration by companies on a global scale, particularly as they look upstream in their sourcing activities.

I was recently challenged to define what we mean by “sustainable supply chain” at the Business for the Environment (B4E) Summit in Korea.  Developing a sustainable supply chain means taking into account environmental, social and ethical concerns when addressing issues across the whole supply chain – so for me it is about bringing about a more ‘responsible’ or ‘holistic’ approach to business decisions. This aligns to more general views of sustainability, including taking actions that that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.   

At the B4E conference I reflected on the relationship between sustainability and population growth.  It was only 100 years ago when the world population was around 1.6Bn. It has now more than quadrupled to 6.8Bn and could rise to 9Bn before reaching a plateau. We must comprehensively support education, up-skilling and empowerment—for example, by lending support to the empowerment of women in emerging economies, for example.

So how does this relate to us as supply chain practitioners? As our upstream supply networks become more complex and spread into more rural parts of the world, they are directly influencing some of these issues. We impact millions of lives in the jobs that we create and the ecosystems or industrial clusters that we develop in and around our organizations. As supply chains expand, so does manufacturing and sourcing in areas such as western China, sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam.

I think that we must recognize the social impact that we are having as we expand into such markets, and should look to build community and education programs.  We should place more significant value on the suppliers and partners that demonstrate the appropriate behaviours.  This will require moving away from a narrow focus on “lowest unit cost” and find more long-term ways to value suppliers who are creating a more sustainable society and environment.

The behaviours, decisions and tradeoffs that we make in supply chain can make a real difference to achieving equilibrium in the world. The network modelling, the partnering decisions, the sourcing and the supplier development programs we initiate can all drive towards a better society, a more educated population and increased sustainability. The real challenge we face is not in singling out any one of these issues but by changing the global consciousness to address all them all simultaneously.

 

South Korea: Notes from the Business for Environment Summit

By Jonathan Wright | 04/29/2010 | 5:31 AM

I am writing this blog en route back from Seoul, where I was privileged to be presenting at the Business for the Environment (B4E) Summit.

This was a fantastic event with speakers including Lee Myung-bak, South Korea's president, the presidents of the Maldives and Guyana, and CEOs from businesses such as LG Electronics, Puma and Siemens to name a few.  It was a powerful and influential event, with business leaders from large global companies pledging further commitments to some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems.

It was also a great display of the practical role that technology enablement can play, with video links from the auditorium to Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore,  and movie director James Cameron attended in Live 3D via Cinedigm's CineLiveTM Digital Cinema Technology.   CNN International will broadcast the plenary discussion in a program titled The Special Debate for Earth's Frontiers: The Future of Energy.

South Korea is pushing the sustainability agenda hard with its bold commitments to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2020.  It was great to see that many other business leaders were making similar commitments.  We are all challenged however to focus more on the “how” and to start delivering the step changes required to achieve lasting improvements.

I chaired a session on sustainable procurement and supply chain, and was joined by the Executive Vice President & Chief Procurement Officer of LG Electronics; the Managing Director, Asia, of Business for Social Responsibility and the President & CEO of World Environment Center.  The discussion focused on how to measure and create systemic solutions, how to embed sustainability metrics into supply chain decisions and how to work more collaboratively with suppliers. I was energized by the conference and the impact that we in supply chain can have across the broad social, economic and environmental agendas.

In our physical supply chains, we all influence raw material suppliers, manufacturers, warehousing and transportation operators.  Our supply chain ecosystems are constantly connecting new rural sourcing geographies and emerging consumer markets around the globe.  We must increasingly focus on the social and economic impacts that supply chains have on the environment – going beyond the carbon impacts.

For those of us who work in fulfillment operations in particular, we must continue to ensure that this topic remains front of mind. Its importance is going to continue to grow and by focusing on it we can make a difference to the environment and the lives of many.

Improve the State of the World--A Quick Update

By Jonathan Wright | 02/10/2010 | 5:06 AM

Just over a week ago, I blogged about some of the achievements of the World Economic Forum’s Logistics & Transport Industry Group, which has been taking a look at ways to respond to growing interest in product-level carbon reporting by major manufacturers and retailers.

 

I’m proud to now be able to say that the members of the Forum’s Logistics & Transport Industry Group – supported by an Accenture project team – have just signed off on the set of guidelines for consignment-level carbon reporting.  The guidelines will help the sector to respond consistently and accurately to requests for emissions reporting from its manufacturing and retail customers and address topics such as defining the scope of emissions to report and how these emissions should be allocated in cases such as shared transport or backhaul.

 

These guidelines also complement  broader product-level carbon reporting standards which are either already available, or are in development, including the GHG Protocol Life Cycle and Scope 3 Standards, which are expected to be released at the end of 2010.

 

This voluntary agreement on consistent reporting is a great way for firms to begin to compete on their environmental efficiency.  I imagine there could be an increase in the number of firms adopting the guidelines as they become more widely known – as well as a likely adoption of similar approaches by other industries over time.

 

I certainly sense that the time for this is right, with the renewed interest in sustainability topics growing as the global economy comes out of recession.

 

Feel free to take a read of the full Consignment-Level Carbon Reporting Guidelines, or view a video of me outlining them in more detail online.

Improve the State of the World

By Jonathan Wright | 02/01/2010 | 1:00 PM

I’m writing this on the plane back to Singapore after a few days with the World Economic Forum in Davos.

 

The agenda was “Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild”--clearly a bold agenda but from the sessions I attended, it set the right tone. It was cold and snowy, which was to be expected and the security was unsurprisingly intense.  The trendy boarders and skiers were replaced by a strange mix of suits, briefcases and walking boots.  But when seated in the working sessions, the agenda was clear – how to get back to growth, but with climate change at front of mind.

“Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild” has been particularly evident in the logistics sector as we reflect on the challenges faced in 2008/09 and think about the opportunities of growing in a rapidly-changing world – be it repositioning ourselves in response to market convergence, developing new growth poles in key emerging markets--or even responding to renewed discussions with customers about carbon reporting.

Given that a recent Accenture survey highlighted that 90 percent consumers globally would be willing to switch to a new manufacturer if its product was certified as minimizing the climate change impact, carbon reporting is an important issue for this industry.  In recent posts, I’ve shared findings from other Accenture research that show that even among the best performing supply chain organizations, only 10 percent are actively modeling and managing their emissions in any detail.  Although this statistic is worrying, the challenge is even worse. The consumer is demanding more, and wants to understand the total carbon impact of a product or consignment that is handled by multiple parties, in multiple geographies, in multiple forms and states.

 

Tackling carbon emissions has been the focus of the World Economic Forum’s Logistics & Transport industry group, a group that we have had the pleasure of working with.  Last year, we collaborated on research that identified the top opportunities for reducing supply chain emissions, published in “Supply Chain Decarbonization.” Since then, we’ve been working with this industry group to think through responding to the growth in requests for product-level carbon footprint data.  We had an invigorating session at Davos last week and I look forward to sharing more with you about our progress.  It’s clear that agreeing on standards for product-level carbon footprint data could help make a big difference in providing what we call ‘corporate assurance’ – greater trust from consumers in the transparency and accuracy of information provided to them on packaging, on the internet and on marketing billboards.

 

My time in Davos reminded me how important it is to try and go the extra mile on these important environmental topics, even when they are hugely complex and require difficult decisions.  I am immensely proud to be working with the World Economic Forum on these topics, and look forward to sharing the outcomes with you.

 

In the meantime, I am looking forward to being back in the 95 degree heat of Singapore, after four days of 14 degrees!

The Christmas Returns Challenge

By Jonathan Wright | 01/13/2010 | 5:57 PM

The Christmas Returns Challenge

 

Happy New Year!  I hope that you all had an enjoyable holiday season and managed to relax after the challenges of running a supply chain in the run-up to the festive break.

 

Like many people, I found myself wandering around the retail outlets before and after Christmas. Predictably, the store employees were exceptionally busy, dealing with new season stock, sale items and returns all at the same time. 

 

Data in the US suggests that one-third of consumers are returning unwanted holiday gifts to stores–quite a step up on the usual 10% to 20% returns rates seen across retailers for the remainder of the year.  But as consumer markets have evolved over the past few years, many retailers have seen a rising trend in returns rates back to DCs.  The increase in home shopping has clearly played a part, but we are also seeing evidence that the recession has resulted in consumers exchanging gifts for more utilitarian items or swapping for store credits instead of alternative products.

 

Reverse logistics is a costly problem for supply chain executives–both in financial and environmental terms.  The cost of processing a return is typically two to three times the original shipping cost, with the total cost of reverse logistics in the US estimated to be equivalent to 0.5% of US GDP.  Environmental costs include the substantial proportion of returns that still ultimately end up in landfills–or that end up being dumped in developing economies through grey market processes.  Waste in each step of the process represents an opportunity to cut manufacturing costs as well as to reduce carbon emissions.

 

How to go about this?  From conversations with colleagues at some of the largest third-party logistics providers and consumer goods firms, three or four main principles emerge:

 

Right First Time:  Getting the product right in fulfillment and in the in-store process.  Accenture research shows that best-in-class supply chains are twice as likely to incorporate returns data into service development for continuous improvement.

 

Keep It Sold:  Discounting instead of taking back the return.  Or, for communications and high tech firms, increasing “fix in-situ” rates.

 

Ensure Returns are Legitimate:  Is the return compliant with policy? The non-compliance rate for one electrical retailer was 5% of returns.

 

Right Commercial Agreement:  Are there matching commercial terms back up the supply chain?

 

The major discussion point though is probably how to handle returns volumes more efficiently. A recent Accenture survey of supply chain executives found the best-performing logistics operations are twice as likely as others to make sure returns are managed out at the lowest cost point, typically the nearest inventory holding location.

 

Some work Accenture did recently showed a substantial opportunity for firms to focus on quick wins– such as providing more frequent store sales information to manufacturers--that improve production planning, sales forecasting and distribution efficiency.  And for distribution operations, there were opportunities to improve consolidation operations as flows go “many to one” back up the supply chain.

 

As trends such as increased home shopping and the development of “fast fashion” continue, I think we will continue to see management of returns become more of a core supply chain activity, and less “out of sight, out of mind.”  It’ll be interesting to see if the staff at my local retailers are just as busy next year!

The Next Big Thing - Innovative Fuel Technologies Driving Our Future

By Jonathan Wright | 12/15/2009 | 4:42 PM

Earlier this month, I met with some of my colleagues here in Singapore to discuss innovation.  One of the key messages that came from that meeting was that innovation is not just about bringing new ideas to life; it’s about those ideas adding value and making money. It's about commercializing them.

 

This is an interesting perspective when applied to sustainability, but it is still true… Innovation that improves the environment must also be commercially viable to succeed. Even the largest corporations may not have the will to sink dollar after dollar into R&D if the time to profit is long and unclear – especially given the challenges of the recession.   

 

I believe that the direct relationship between oil and GDP must eventually be broken for us to achieve sustained growth. Convergence, Next Gen broadband and the evolving digital economy will clearly have a major impact but the need for “transportation” will not disappear and the role of innovation in transport fuels must be important to us all. In a recent Accenture study titled “Betting on Science – Disruptive Technologies in Transport Fuels”, we found that there are 12 key technologies that could make a fundamental difference to supply chain management and our current reliance on oil.  This report does provide some hope and a glimmer of light!

 

The study demystifies these technologies – providing data on when and what the trajectory might be for commercial viability and highlighting the key economic challenges to bringing these technologies to market.  The report looks at technologies in three categories:  evolutionary, revolutionary, and “the game changer.”  Evolutionary fuels focus on improving efficiencies in our current technologies.  While arguably the quickest to implement, these fuel technologies do not move us away from our dependency on oil.  Revolutionary fuels, on the other hand, are not oil-based and have the additional perk of being able to use the existing fuel distribution infrastructure.  Biofuels dominate this category, sourced from plants including algae, sugarcane, corn, etc.  The “game changer” is electrification.  These technologies provide us with the most emissions-friendly options, but require the most investment to develop and implement.

 

As we look at this wide range of potential “future fuels,” a number of questions arise.  Given the extensive infrastructure of our transportation industry, are we reaching a tipping point by which a commitment to one or more future fuels is required?  And if so, which technology should policymakers, utilities, and operators get behind? 

 

If we look at current market trends, it is clear that while there is a tendency to favor technologies that leverage our current asset infrastructure in the shorter term, there is room for expansion.  Electrification, for example, is arguably one of the most widely accepted technologies for long term sustainability.  Here, there is a significant amount of coordination required across players who have not worked together before (local governments, utilities, OEMs, battery & charging companies, etc).  In current pilots of this technology, the coordination of efforts including network management, division of responsibility and revenue sharing vary greatly. 

 

Coordination of these efforts as well as determination of the standards which need to accompany new fuel technologies require global attention.  It is important for all the technologies to use common standards—whether fuel specifications, emissions, charging, etc.  Lack of standards will create inefficiencies and increase the commercialization and scale-up costs.

 

In all likelihood, not all 12 technologies investigated in this study will be brought to market or found to be commercially viable enough to succeed in the current economic climate.  However, there may still be a role for business or policy makers to take action and improve the chances of success for these fuels and fuel technologies. 

The Sustainable Future of ERP

By Jonathan Wright | 11/17/2009 | 5:31 PM

A colleague and I recently found ourselves discussing Enterprise Resource Planning.  Whether it’s SAP, Oracle or the niche players, these IT platforms are now a major part of life for most businesses.  When they were first implemented, ERP systems typically replaced multiple server platforms with an integrated solution capable of managing a company’s data and processes from a single system.   As regulatory and environmental pressures grow, companies are now turning to these systems for additional functionality – help in executing and tracking the success of sustainability initiatives. 

It’s an interesting evolution.  When ERP systems first started out, resource planning was about people, bills of material, finances, manufacturing, warehousing, etc.  Now carbon is surfacing as a critical resource that companies must manage for their customers, shareholders and regulatory agencies. 

This shift finds ERP vendors fending off standalone solutions by adapting and building modules capable of providing data collection, project management and reporting functionality related to sustainability initiatives.  These solutions must be robust and accurate enough to meet the increasingly stringent regulatory requirements of global organizations. 

So, are we really there yet?  Not quite. While the need for businesses to provide increasingly accurate reports on carbon footprints, carbon trades and information to support product level carbon labeling is clear, a number of hurdles have to be overcome before their ERP systems can provide the industrialized, automated and accurate solutions they most desire.

Make no mistake, ERP providers are making great strides in building their sustainability offerings.  SAP has received countless awards and recognitions for its sustainability efforts.  Its annual Sustainability Report highlights these achievements, and the company’s recent acquisition of Clear Standards continues to support this trend.  

SAP is not alone in these environmentally-friendly endeavors.  Oracle has teamed with ESS and Zogix , which both specialize in carbon management and sustainability software, to enhance its offerings in the areas of sustainability reporting, planning and management.

While SAP and Oracle are the market leaders in ERP solutions, other options are available to meet the sustainability needs of businesses.  Web-based tools such as Netsuite, Acumatica and Nolapro and add-on solutions like Microsoft’s Environmental Sustainability Dashboard are also available, being marketed primarily to medium-sized companies or divisions of larger corporations.

Large or small, these solutions face similar challenges including the rather tedious task of gathering data.  Sustainability initiatives typically run the full length of a company’s supply chain.  So to really track and report success of corporate sustainability initiatives, these systems require complex streams of data.  We’re talking collecting product and SKU level waste data from manufacturing sites, securing consignment-level emissions figures from transport providers, obtaining “real time” energy consumption information from relevant utilities, etc.

 

One of the challenges in collecting this data is agreeing on scope and data standards.  Interestingly enough, while the importance of common standards is universally recognized, there is no single standards-setting body or process in place today.  Although the International Organization for Standardization is involved, it will be a long time before ISO standards proliferate; in the meantime, there is a need to drive consensus across non-governmental groups to gain critical mass.  Accenture is currently working with the World Economic Forum to address this need with organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Carbon Trust and Business for Social Responsibility.

Collecting and processing large amounts of data from across the supply chain in real time is what will bring these ERP platforms from the enterprise resource planning solutions they are now to the emissions reduction platforms they strive to become.  Agreeing to common standards is a huge step towards making this a reality.

The quiet wind of change: Integrated transport infrastructure

By Jonathan Wright | 11/03/2009 | 7:37 AM

I recently returned from a trip to Shanghai where I was talking to a retail client about developing its supply chain network to support the significant growth it is experiencing in the region. As I sat in the meeting, every 15 minutes or so, the Maglev silently whistled past the office block. This is the fastest, quietest and most futuristic passenger line in the world.

Reaching speeds of up to 431 km/h, the Maglev hovers 10mm above a special track and uses magnets for lift propulsion and braking. Developed by Siemens and ThyssenKrupp, it does not roll, it flies; it has no harmful emissions, emits no exhaust, and is quiet and very efficient. 

While the Maglev is a great step forward towards a more sustainable solution for passenger train technology, the transport industry as a whole is still a major contributor to carbon emissions.  As other industries move towards reducing their carbon footprint, a significant step change is required by transport and logistics providers to achieve similar negative emissions growth. 

One of the most public debates on the issue of reducing transportation emissions is the future of fuel. There has been a fast increase in the development and use of renewable energy sources during the past few years.  Within the transportation sector, the movement from our oil dependency to a more sustainable fuel source is inevitable, and will probably progress through a phased solution, based on transport type.  For example, since they are continuously replenished by natural processes, biofuels (grown sustainably) may be the short- to medium-term solution for planes and trucks.  More sustainable fuel options for cars, meanwhile, have been more aggressively explored beginning with the introduction of Gasohol in the 1970s to the electric hybrids on the roads today.  Last month, a group of leading car manufacturers signed a letter of understanding agreeing to the development and commercial introduction of fuel cell vehicles within the next six years. 

What does all of this imminent change mean for the logistics infrastructure of the future?  While technologies within the transportation industry evolve, so must the supporting network.  This need for change presents opportunities to revolutionize the way the transport industry operates. 

One of the greatest challenges in transportation is the need for improved intermodal capabilities.  A transport infrastructure that does not sufficiently support these capabilities—that is, provide appropriate intermodal connectors--can impede, if not completely hinder, the benefits of this system.  The London Gateway project is the UK’s response to this challenge.  By combining a modern deep-sea container port with a large logistics park, plans are underway to integrate the road, rail, and sea networks into a more efficient and environmentally friendly distribution system. 

The emergence of such multimode port cities where ships, trains, trucks and planes converge to allow for the virtually seamless intermodal transition of goods could provide logistics companies with the opportunity to streamline the transportation of goods from manufacturer directly to the end user, avoiding distribution centers and potentially even stores.  The result could not only drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation process but also improve delivery times and costs. 

There are no doubt a number of hurdles to overcome before such a vision can become a global reality.  In addition to the massive financial investment required to build these new infrastructures, variations in international standards and the need for more robust cross-border customs agreements also present great challenges for logistics providers to overcome. 

But there is still a lot for logistics companies to take from all of these advancements and technological innovations.  Mode switches are an important part of a distribution network, but are often best optimized when combined with a network redesign.  Networks should be reviewed and, where appropriate, redesigned every 10 years or so to optimize the benefits from changes in technology, policy and infrastructure.  Such redesigns can ultimately save up to 10% to 15% of distribution costs.  In the long term, therefore, transport and logistics providers need to look holistically at the end-to-end supply chain, but also consider the likely evolution in supporting infrastructures. 

All those little (carbon) labels

By Jonathan Wright | 10/20/2009 | 1:55 PM

All those little (carbon) labels

 

A couple of my colleagues met with Carbon Trust last week.  Carbon Trust is the UK organization that wrote a detailed standard for identifying the carbon footprints of individual products (PAS 2050).  From the discussion, it certainly seems like there is a growing interest across manufacturing and retail companies of all sizes to include product carbon footprints on their products – following on from what some of the big brands have already done.

  

Similar to nutrition and food safety labeling, carbon labeling will require organizations up and down the supply chain to work together to come up with accurate calculations that can be trusted and used by consumers to make product comparisons.  Consumers expect to have “corporate assurance” that the information they are being given about a product is accurate and consistent with the information given on alternative products – not a trivial assurance.  

 

For example, to be able to use the Forestry Stewardship Council label and to earn the associated certification, an organization must first adapt its management and operations to conform to all applicable Council requirements.

 

Now, the key question for us in logistics and transport is to understand the data requirements for calculating the carbon footprint for a product (or more likely for us a consignment).

 

It’s not easy to conduct these types of analyses.   Just think of a shipment leaving a factory in Asia and heading to a retail store in Europe. The transaction involves a number of sub-contractors; different sorting, packaging and storage logistics centers; and a number of different transportation modes including sea, road and rail freight. In addition, there is the allocation of emissions from all these activities to a single consignment, although a multitude of very different products are shipped together. You get the sense of the complexity involved in this consignment-level reporting exercise?

 

While there currently are some great tools to help companies within the supply chain drive relative improvements, we still need standards across the end-to-end supply chain to ensure consistency.

 

The World Economic Forum’s Logistics & Transport group (with Accenture  support) is making good progress on developing guidance.  And, some of the world’s leading freight and logistics companies and the main advisory organizations like WBCSD, WRI and Carbon Trust are helping to underscore the need for a transparent and more standardized product-level foot-printing framework and developing industry-specific standards and guidelines to report consignment-level emissions.

 

That doesn’t take away from the need to be able to calculate consignment-level emissions in response to client queries (and I am working with a major global manufacturer on just such a request for their Asian plants). It is clearly not a straightforward exercise, which is why we are working with some of the world’s largest logistics and transport companies to automate consignment-level emissions reporting, increase the accuracy of the emissions reported from subcontractors and better integrate reporting with all other key functions of the companies.  

 

Ultimately, this will enable logistics and transport organizations to quickly and effectively provide their clients the environmental impact associated with shipping their products and go some way towards delivering corporate assurance on footprint labeling.

Headphones … and packaging

By Jonathan Wright | 10/05/2009 | 5:15 PM

I had intended to take a look at carbon labelling this week, but got distracted with packaging – I just bought a new set of headphones, and saw again just how much packaging there is with these kinds of things, which inevitably got me thinking…

 

My new headphones are pretty small, perhaps  10 cubic cms in freight terms – but I ended up with a much greater volume of blister packs, cable ties, and inserts in my recycling bin – probably 10 times the cube of the headphones, plus presumably a small amount more cube from transit packaging which was left at the warehouse or store.

 

Clearly, while it seems like there are a lot of over-packaged products in the world, packaging does have a role to play – hopefully, packaging is only added when it is saves more than it costs.  Those savings can include the environmental benefits of less waste resulting from damages and so on, as well as adding value through consumer information and marketing, improved ease of handling etc.

 

It’s also pretty clear to me, however, that many organizations do not yet have a clear packaging strategy – a way to manage the best fit compromise among the numerous parties involved – from Quality Assurance to Procurement, Marketing to Store Operations , Manufacturing to Distribution, Suppliers to Customers – and not forgetting the Corporate Social Responsibility team.  I think that organizations will increasingly need this coordination, as they look to balance the trade-offs among Logistics, Marketing and CSR to achieve the best possible balance for the customer.

 

I’m always surprised to see just how much cost is associated with packaging as compared with product. Lifecycle modelling of a carbonate drink seems to suggest packaging is over 10% of total product cost.  In the US, about 15% of all waste is consumer waste from packaging.

 

Thinking about that in carbon emissions terms, for many processed foodstuffs, packaging totals about 7% or 8% of the total carbon footprint.  The New York Times reported earlier this year that packaging contributes about 15% of the emissions produced by a half-gallon of Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice (How Green is my Orange?).

 

Applying the traditional 3Rs (REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE) hierarchy to this, there is a lot we can do across the end-to-end supply chain – not just in the consumption phase – to reduce waste.

 

REDUCE:

-   Applying Design for Environment principles to transit packaging as well as consumer packs

-   Optimizing box fills and managing minimum order quantities

-   Improving planning and order consolidation

-   Using postponement strategies

 

REUSE:

-   Switching transit packaging types to reusable types from card boxes

-   Using multi-trip pallets instead of one-ways

-   Equip the supply chain to manage re-use of returnable consumer packaging

 

RECYCLE:

-   Implementing waste stream separation in DCs and stores as well as in manufacturing sites

-   Taking back packaging materials from stores and home delivery locations to DCs for recycling

-   Renegotiating contracts with waste vendors to include specific service level agreements on recycling

 

Across the wider supply chain, more collaboration, more smart thinking about re-usable transit packaging – and potentially switching to dematerialized supply strategies and postponement – can yield big benefits in reducing unnecessary packaging. 

 

My headphone packaging was recyclable, but I can’t help thinking that much of the packaging could have been reduced or reused – rather than recycled (or disposed of in many cases) – had there been more of an integrated packaging strategy at work.

 

On a lighter note…….. I was recently reminded about the ultimate packaging reuse strategy – an edible plate that was launched in Japan a few years back – the idea being that you ate dinner from it, and then ate the plate afterwards.  This has evolved into the corn-based, 100% biodegradable packaging materials now seen in many coffee shops (see Biodegradable GreenGood® PLA Products as an example).  Although you can still get the edible plate too if you want it……. 

 

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright is a Singapore-based senior executive in Accenture's Supply Chain Management practice with global responsibility for the company's supply chain fulfillment client work. With 17 years' experience, he is a recognized thought leader in supply chain transformation and sustainability. He joined Accenture in 1997 after five years with Exxon Mobil Corp. Since joining Accenture, Wright has worked in the retail, communications, high-tech, and aerospace and defense sectors. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation.



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