At the beginning of 2020, sustainability was one of the hottest topics in logistics. Consumers and shareholders alike are paying closer attention to the environmental impact of the companies they support and invest in, and that scrutiny gets passed down through the supply chain to the logistics companies that distribute food. Now, not even six months into the year, the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and subsequent quarantine have turned the entire supply chain on its head.
Right now, the industry is being forced to adapt as circumstances are changing by the hour, but that doesn’t mean the strides that have been made to achieve more sustainable operations have to suffer. One principle of sustainability will always ring true—wasting less means spending less. As times get leaner, you should be looking harder than ever for ways to recycle more and waste less because any amount of waste now is going to have a much larger impact on your bottom line than it would have five months ago.
Here are four tactics that can help manage the supply chains in a sustainable manner during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Leverage technology
There are new technologies emerging every year that help reduce and even eliminate food waste. Products like “spoiler alert” can help ensure that none of your freight goes to waste. Utilizing this type of freight tracking software lets you know where trouble spots or the potential for spoilage exist well before any products or produce can go bad. That said, the implementation of sweeping changes in the way an operation runs or the technologies you utilize takes money and time. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your weaknesses right now and exploring options to help your business become more efficient, sustainable and profitable.
- Continue looking for ways to reduce waste
Fleets inherently produce large amounts of waste. From used oil and fluids to tires, fleets have unique opportunities to leverage recycling for just about any type of waste produced. If you’re currently taking advantage of one type of program, now is the time to talk to a waste vendor about expanding those programs. Think of the other waste you end up with. Pallets are a perfect example of a recyclable commodity that often gets thrown away, and fleet operations end up with tons of them every year. Packing waste is another opportunity to recycle materials that you would typically just throw in a dumpster. A waste audit is a great way to identify weaknesses in your waste management and recycling programs.
- Manage essential waste as efficiently as possible
Inevitably, you are going to generate some sort of waste. Ensuring that waste is handled as efficiently as possible is the first step to a truly sustainable operation. In times of higher operating costs and reduced revenues, every bit of savings helps your business to remain profitable. Take advantage of all available options, as savings in the waste and recycling category alone can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Your waste management vendor is the key here. Make sure you are working with a company that is focused on reaching your sustainability and financial goals, not just theirs.
- True sustainability = people
Conversation around sustainable business practices typically revolves around environmental impacts. Keep in mind that people, specifically employees, are a major part of that equation as well. With the heightened concerns around viral contamination, your business needs to take steps to develop a decontamination program that ensures your employees stay safe.
● Professional decontamination for your locations.
Bringing in a professional decontamination and disinfection service is quickly becoming a standard part of any operation. These companies come in and use professional strength, CDC-approved disinfectants that kill viruses on contact, along with specialized equipment to decontaminate large spaces like terminals or warehouses very quickly. Make sure you’re working with a decontamination service that uses the right materials, will show up quickly, work around your schedule and handle the waste per the local state regulations. Just like with any other vendor, not all decontamination services are equal.
● Decontamination services for trucks.
At the heart of logistics is the drivers keeping the country running. In a situation where you have different drivers in different vehicles, there are mobile systems and even systems you can have installed in terminals that can ensure trucks are completely decontaminated between shifts. They are simple to use and set up, but still ensure professional-level decontamination for your vehicles.
Operating sustainably doesn’t just mean doing what’s best for the environment; it means operating in a way that is efficient, profitable and conscious of the environmental impacts your business has. A truly sustainable operation will be able to weather market shifts and unprecedented situations like COVID-19 because operating sustainably is synonymous with operating efficiently.