Supply Chain Sustainability

Reduce your supply chain impact without sacrificing quality.

 Our Supply Chain Consultants: 

  • Can help you prioritise supply chain improvements to have maximum impact on sustainability criteria
  • Bring the latest in best practice and strategies from years of experience working across a variety of industries. 
  • Will balance sustainability goals with key KPIs including customer service and profitability.
Sustainability in the Supply Chain

The UK government’s pledge is that the economy will reach Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Rising numbers of conscious consumers are wanting to spend their money with companies doing good for the planet.

Governments are rolling out business sustainability standards. Investors are looking for businesses to be hitting certain ESG credentials. It’s now more important than ever to look at ways to improve the sustainability of your business.

Your supply chain is key to achieving a sustainable offering, with opportunities at every step. This can include activities outside of your business contributing to the carbon footprint of your product:

  • Are the raw materials used in your products conscious to the limited resource on earth?
  • Could your production processes be more environmentally friendly?
  • How efficient is your company’s storage/warehouse?
  • Are your packaging materials recyclable?
  • How efficient is the transportation within your network (between suppliers, warehouses, and stores)?
  • Could you offer less carbon intensive delivery options to customers?
  • Could you reduce the volume of customer returns?
  • Could you improve the circularity of your product / business model? (What of old products could be cannibalised to make new ones.)

How we can help

Growth Strategy

A growth strategy plans create sustainable, long-term growth and capture a significant share of the market.

Demand Planning

Demand forecasting is a critical business requirement to support a range of business functions, including logistics, production and finance.

Business Intelligence

From business data to business insight. Business intelligence aims to interpret large datasets and present actionable information.

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analysis encompasses the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data.

One of the UK Government’s sustainable initiatives – the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Report (SECR) – requires companies which have either 250 employees or more, a turnover of £36 million or more, or assets of £18 million or more to report their annual energy usage including gas, electricity, and transport fuel, along with their reduction plans for the future.

Enforcing sustainability requirements on large companies has the domino effect of passing on these objectives to their entire supply chain. It drives large companies to be conscious about where they procure components from, making it important to collaborate on sustainability to secure future contracts.

We’ve identified four key environmentally negative impacts, common in supply chains, that businesses should focus their efforts on to reduce. These are: carbon emissions, the amount of green space utilised, the use of chemicals, and landfill waste.

We leave you with the tools and knowledge to continue improving when we are gone.

Reducing carbon emissions from your supply chain

Last mile delivery

Transportation of goods into, around, and out of your supply chain network is typically the largest contributing factor to carbon emissions.

Last mile delivery (delivering into urban centres) commonly accounts for more than half of all delivery emissions. Collaboration with your commercial teams can be critical in coming up with ways to improve efficiency of delivering to customers.

Maintaining customer service is always crucial when making any business change, but when thinking about the delivery options you can offer the customer it’s worth noting that studies have shown that 86% of consumers want to be offered and incentivised to use delayed, more environmentally friendly, shipping options.

A slower delivery promise can allow for a greater number of orders to be consolidated into fewer vehicles at a greater truck fill, saving fuel and therefore reducing the carbon intensity of each order. This can also provide the additional benefit to the business of flattening daily peaks of outbound orders, allowing operations to produce more consistent plans and realise further cost savings.

Greening your fleet

Upgrading your fleet can be a daunting prospect, with the shift to greener biofuel engine vehicles, or the switch to fully electric, both requiring large cash investment.

Yet, for the sake of sustainable transport, using vehicles with greener fuels can also have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions. Electric vehicles even more so, but these come with the additional challenge of how to plan delivery routes with EV charging points in mind.

This can be overcome with the right transport planning and the right software.

Knowing where to position your fleet of vehicles to minimise the mileage expelled on an average day also requires a trade-off on how centralised/de-centralised your supply chain network should be. Setting up micro-hubs reduces the distance items have to travel to the consumer but also require more internal logistics and more inventory held in a greater amount of space.

We can help you decide what is the right balance for your business.

Pick up and drop off

Lastly, the number of stops and starts of a delivery vehicle is a big contributor to carbon emissions. An option is to offer customers delivery to Pick up and drop off (PUDO) locations which are often positioned in populated areas where consumers can collect or drop off a parcel while on a journey they would have taken anyway.

It may be more economical altogether to outsource your customer deliveries. Third party delivery providers will be able to maximise truck fill across routes and are also on the forefront of developing new initiatives such as electric drones and droid (vehicles on pavements) deliveries.

Although this technology is still some way from being common-place.

To re-cap, the key questions to ask when thinking about your last mile delivery are:

  • what delivery options will be offered to your customers,
  • what vehicles you will use to transport goods to the customer,
  • which locations goods will be held and dispatched from, and
  • where deliveries will be left for the customer
  • should customer deliveries be outsourced?

Thinking bigger

Further transport carbon-reduction projects may include finding ways to replace long haul air logistics with sea or train routes which can have a huge impact on reducing carbon footprint. This is likely to require better inventory forecasting given the increased lead-time of supply.

A drastic measure can involve procuring goods currently purchased from abroad instead from national suppliers, referred to as “re-shoring”. This can be a costly and time-consuming activity but not only can it minimise carbon output but also reduce risks to supply, for example, the Suez Canal incident in 2021, or the recent global pandemic.

Other areas to look at to reduce carbon emissions are:

  • Production processes: clothing and shoe production is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions with 70% of those emissions coming from the production process.
  • Reduction in the volume of returns: Walmart invested in a diverse range of models to provide online fashion shoppers with a better representation of themselves in the clothes, ultimately reducing the volume of returns and therefore the associated carbon emissions.
  • The energy used to run warehouses – switching bulbs to LED can be a super quick and effective win, but also offsetting emissions by generating your own renewable energy through clean energy solutions such as solar panels or wind turbines. Not only can clean energy generators offset building energy consumption but by supplying excess energy back to the grid can lead to certification in being a net zero company.
  • You may also look at ways to help employees travel to work in more environmentally ways such as cycling or car-sharing schemes.


Growth Forecasting for a National Pharmacy

Optimising E-commerce Returns for a Global Fashion Retailer

Reducing utilisation of green space

As well as requiring a lot of energy, warehousing can also be a large consumer of green land. This can be detrimental to natural habitats and a contributor of deforestation.

Optimising and controlling the amount of inventory held in stock reduces the amount of storage space required, not only reducing your carbon footprint but also the cost of rent.

With the aid of automated inventory retrieval technology, warehouses can be built taller with up to 66-foot-high racking, optimising land space and using about half the land that would traditionally be required for an equivalent facility.

Looking to production processes, vertical farming is a revolutionary practice that optimises plant and crop growth with vertical, soil-less infrastructure. Try looking outside of your business for inspiration on how processes might be able to be carried out in less space than they currently utilise.

Reducing the amount of chemicals used

Chemicals, predominantly used in manufacturing stages, can pollute soil and cause damage both to the environment and humans. An example of cotton growers collaborating with their customers resulted in growing cotton in colours to reduce the chemicals used in later dying processes. This also brought the benefit of reduced lead-times in the overall production process for their customers.

Reducing the volume of ‘stuff’ going to landfill

We all know the phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ and as suppliers of goods we have the responsibility of minimising the amount that ends up in landfill.

From April 2022, the UK government will be introducing a plastic tax that will apply to packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. This follows from the plastic bag charge and is likely to be one of many initiatives introduced to reduce plastic waste, so it’s good to get on the forefront and understand the sustainability of your current packaging.

Thinking about the circularity of your products can reduce costs of sourcing new materials but can also provide opportunities to do something good for the local community, for example McDonalds recycle binned happy meal toys into children’s playgrounds.

Our Clients

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    We are independent supply chain and warehouse consultants specialising in data analysis, leading strategy, and bringing a fresh perspective to your supply chain challenges.

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