What is sustainable inventory management?

Sustainable inventory management aims to reduce the social and environmental impact of a company without compromising profitability.

The process of storing inventory creates carbon emissions from a number of sources. Carbon is emitted from the fossil fuels of the vehicles that transport inventory to and from the warehouse. During working hours, it takes energy to light a warehouse and keep it warm enough for staff to work in. If that energy comes from non-renewable sources, there is an environmental impact.

A holistic approach

Sustainable inventory management requires a holistic strategy. The environmental impact of all aspects of the business needs to be looked at. An item of inventory sitting on a shelf does not appear to have an impact on the environment, but the process of getting it to the shelf and then delivered to a customer after ordering uses energy and resources. Some staff directly interact with inventory, putting items on a shelf and picking and packing orders that are loaded on delivery vehicles. All this cannot happen without the sales team and office administration staff, who also use energy and resources. A holistic approach looks at the environmental impact of the whole warehouse operation.

There are three main principles that guide a sustainable inventory management policy: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy

There are many ways to reduce fossil fuel use and the carbon footprint of a business. Electric delivery vehicles are being developed. Whilst large diesel trucks are still required for bulk deliveries, electric vans are practical for small loads and local deliveries. Electric-powered forklifts can be used instead of gas-powered models.

Warehouses have large roofs, which are ideal for solar panels that generate renewable energy.

Reduce energy use

Warehouses can reduce energy consumption in many areas. For example, energy efficient lighting systems that only come on when workers are in an area can be used, and skylights can provide light during the day. Insulation can be used so less energy is required to warm a building.

Reduce packaging

Items in a warehouse may have too much packaging. Warehouse managers can work with suppliers to reduce packaging to the minimum. Paper or cardboard that can be recycled can be used instead of plastic.

When handling returned orders, recycle the packaging, or reuse it if it’s practical.

Build sustainably

When a new warehouse is needed or an existing one is extended, a contractor who uses sustainable materials and architects who understand eco-friendly building design can be used.

Green steel

At Steely Products, we use tubular steel to make strong inventory storage and handling equipment. Traditional steel manufacturing involves a large amount of energy, but steel producers are now developing green steel, which is more environmentally friendly. This is made using renewable energy or hydrogen power to reduce carbon emissions. Steel is also recyclable, and new steel often contains some recycled steel.

For more information about how we manufacture our equipment, contact us at Steely Products by phone or use the form below.

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    Posted by Mark
    27th November 2021
    Retail & Warehousing

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