The frequency of climate emergencies is increasing, with flooding, wildfires, heatwaves, and other catastrophic weather events having a huge impact. The latest IPCC report on climate change paints a grim picture—temperatures are going to continue increasing for at least the next 30 years. If we want to limit warming to the lower end of the climate emergency scale, we need to act, and we need to act now.
We’ve previously explored some techniques for reducing carbon emissions in the supply chain.
“The typical consumer company’s supply chain creates far greater social and environmental costs than its own operations, accounting for more than 80 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions and more than 90 percent of the impact on air, land, water, biodiversity, and geological resources.” — McKinsey: Starting at the source: Sustainability in supply chains.
Although carbon emissions are a major issue, other supply chain activities can also have a major environmental impact:
“First, their operating practices and supply chains have sizable effects on the environment. If the CPG sector were a country, its carbon dioxide emissions would be second only to those of China. The metals sector expels an estimated 300 million tons of toxic waste in rivers and streams each year. Fertilizers and other products produced by the chemicals sector are associated with a 30% reduction in biodiversity when found in the soil.”—BGC, Your Supply Chain Needs a Sustainability Strategy
We can define “Green Tech” as a type of technology that:
From a supply chain perspective, this means:
Let’s explore some practical ways that you can take advantage of green supply chain technologies to improve your sustainability.
Every business’s approach to green supply chain technology will be different. Logistics providers might want to focus on green transportation, while manufacturers utilize clean energy, and supply chain managers track overall emissions.
Just like the supply chain itself, all of these technologies are deeply linked together. There’s no single green technology that will make a massive difference on its own. Instead, it’s about driving smart sustainability through collaboration. This needs to happen whenever and wherever we can, with the net combined benefit being less environmental damage. Here are ten ways you can make a difference.
Investigate whether your products can be manufactured from more environmentally friendly materials. For example, bamboo is an easily replaceable, fast-growing resource that can be used as a basis for many wood and natural products.
Understand the emissions and other environmental damage caused through each transportation mode you use—ocean, rail, road, or air. Create logistics and transportation models focused on reducing the environmental impact as much as possible.
Use AI-powered routing software combined with IoT tracking devices to optimize how goods move through the supply chain network. Combine this with optimal supply chain network locations to reduce the distance goods need to travel.
Source energy from renewable power such as solar, tide, or wind. Explore lower emission vehicles for logistics—moving to electric-powered trucks or natural gas-powered vehicles.
Review industry best practices and sustainability frameworks to identify where you can make the most difference. Create a set of green policies and processes together with accurate KPIs and other measures to understand the benefits of these policies.
Once you have policies and processes in place, insist that supply chain partners adapt them as minimum standards. Build these requirements into the Service Level Agreements that you have with third parties. Integrate with data capture and reporting systems within your supply chain partners to ensure they are meeting your requirements.
Use a supply chain audit tool to analyze every step in sourcing and manufacturing processes, including environmental impact and emissions. Track these processes over time to identify trends and drive improvements.
Implement AI forecasting to identify likely demand and supply patterns to allow for more efficient “Just in Time” manufacturing. Use warehouse and logistics automation to drive efficiencies and reduce waste in the supply chain.
Explore alternatives to traditional packaging, including reusable packaging, low-impact packing materials, and micro-supply chains. Investigate this more in our “Packaging Trends in Sustainable Supply Chains” guide.
Build a stronger sense of reusing and recycling unwanted products and byproducts to limit new sourcing and manufacturing. Create greater visibility of available materials together with operational processes to feed them back into the manufacturing process.
There are dozens more green technologies and solutions you can customize to your supply chain circumstances. Whatever green technologies you choose, we can help.
The Topo platform is focused on helping you achieve your green supply chain environmental goals. We empower you to monitor, inspect, and analyze the different stages of your sourcing, product development, production, quality, and sustainability processes within your supply chain.
Some of the ways we can help include:
We cover the entire journey of your products, from sourcing, product development, ordering, production to quality, chemical, and sustainability management. Our supply chain platform digitally transforms your business— regardless of your industry. Topo allows you to collaborate remotely, automate processes and analyze data within your supply chain in real-time to increase transparency and productivity while decreasing operational cost.