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Now that 2015 is officially here, if you haven’t already taken steps towards a greener supply chain, it is time to start. Not only is having an environmentally-conscious supply chain the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, in many cases, it can save your business money.

If you aren’t sure where to start or have been putting it off for a while, there are some easy tips to help you incorporate more eco-friendly practices into your supply chain. Here are six ways to move towards a green supply chain in 2015:

1. Improve Your Packaging

Packaging can be a significant cost, especially for large-scale manufacturing companies. Some of the biggest companies in the world have been able to establish a green supply chain by improving their packaging and the systems they use to put these packaging practices in place. According to the EPA, in the five-year period between 1987 and 1992, GM was able to save a staggering $12 million in disposal costs simply by switching to a reusable packaging system. The reusable or biodegradable packaging option you choose will depend greatly on the type of product you have, how long it will be in shipment, and the end user environment.

2. Schedule Off-Peak Deliveries

This is a simple, outside-the-box solution that makes it easy to create an environmentally friendly supply chain. When you use off-peak deliveries (7pm-6am), you enjoy the benefit of more on-time deliveries, less fuel consumption, and reduced carbon emissions from trucks idling in traffic jams.

3. Know Your Benchmarks

You must have a strong understanding of how much energy you are currently using, as well as how much energy you would like to be using, so that you can effectively come up with a plan to reduce your environmental footprint.

Remember, don’t just think about your own benchmarks: you’ll want to consider the performance of your suppliers as well. A huge part of creating a green supply chain relates to choosing green vendors, so keep that in mind as you analyze your supply chain in the search to become greener.

4. Make Your Facilities Greener

How much electricity is your manufacturing plant or warehouse using each month and quarter? What about the storage bay for your trucks? Are any of your buildings leaking heat that is making your HVAC systems work harder? These and other questions must be answered to keep your facilities as eco-friendly as possible to improve your supply chain.

5. Encourage Your Employees

You can establish green policies, but to truly create change you must have buy-in on the part of your employees. Create educational programs that provide instruction on why it is important to go green, and consider offering incentives for employees who display leadership in helping to establish your company’s green supply chain. The more help and cooperation you have in your efforts, the more likely you will be to achieve success. 

6. Invest in New Technology

In the coming years, there will be a huge market for green technology in manufacturing. It has already been announced that 9 of the top 10 wind companies have plans to build facilities in the United States. Green energy is spurring the growth of all types of new manufacturing technology: be sure that your company is riding the wave of technology towards a more eco-friendly supply chain.

Environmentally friendly business methods are much more than just a fad. Green technology, strategies, and products are here to stay into the foreseeable future. With these tips, it will be much easier for your business to create a green supply chain that will enable you to save money and stay ahead of the competition.

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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