Environmental Sustainability Is Hiding Within Your Business

  • Environmental Sustainability Is Hiding Within Your Business

    Written by Stuart McAvoy | UPS, MEPOL Industrial Advisory Board Member

    Here’s a road map to unlocking value while reducing your carbon footprint. 

    For decades, supply chain specialists focused on wringing every ounce of value or saving the most amount of time by optimizing the movement of goods. At the same time, sustainability specialists focused on reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact.In some cases, these two very different goals were aligned. But all too often, the objectives were pursued independently of one another.

    The situation frequently bred frustration among both supply chain and environmental sustainability experts. Those days are thankfully fading away. Perpetual harmony is on the horizon.

    The one element that was so often missing is surprisingly simple: collaboration. At UPS, we live by the adage that the greenest mile driven is the one you don’t drive at all. It’s also the most profitable mile.

    Exploring technologies

    That’s why we meticulously study techniques and explore technologies that minimize the number of miles traveled at every point in the supply chain.

    When a mile must be traveled, make the most of it through a combination of streamlined travel patterns, multi-modal transportation options and alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

    For example, by increasing its warehouses from two to three, one company decreased its carbon footprint more than 30 percent, improved its customer service by 40 percent and decreased its transportation costs by 6 percent.

    The revelation lies within a company’s supply chain analytics.

    But isn’t increasing assets counterintuitive to reducing environmental impact? Sometimes, yes. The revelation lies within a company’s supply chain analytics. Where are the manufacturing, distribution and retail points?

    What volume of products are transported – and at what intervals? What are the time-in-transit constraints? How does seasonality impact the business, both from the company’s suppliers and outside industries?

    Taking a holistic view

    When a 360-degree view of a company’s existing infrastructure and planned growth is developed, a road map materializes, which reveals exactly where business and environmental efficiencies converge.

    This is how many companies are now improving customer service and the bottom line while, at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One company, for example, takes the equivalent of nearly 30 passenger vehicles off the road and keeps 40 tons of waste out of landfills annually through this approach.

    Right now, the retail and transportation industries are jointly facing a tremendous challenge. How do we continue to meet online shopping demand while mitigating the rising financial and environmental costs of residential deliveries?

    For our part, UPS is meeting this challenge head-on by acting as a strategic adviser to our customers and investing in environmentally sustainable business assets.

    We have a team of experts deployed around the world who design and implement supply chain optimization strategies that enhance customer service, improve financial results and decrease environmental impact.

    Combining efficient supply chains with transportation infrastructure reduces environmental impact.

    UPS’s fleet of more than 7,700 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles helped us meet our goal of driving more than 1 billion miles last August – a full year early.

    We developed UPS’s proprietary ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) route optimization software to eliminate 100 million miles and 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

    And we’re testing non-traditional vehicles such as the eBike in the U.S. and Cargo Cruiser in Europe, which modernize urban package delivery models.

    By combining more efficient supply chains with transportation infrastructure that reduces environmental impact, companies receive more than public accolades. It’s good for the bottom line.

    Environmental sustainability no longer has to cost a business. Modern supply chain strategies are proven to enhance a company’s profitability, customer experience and environmental stewardship. That’s a road map worth following.


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