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Today we are living in an era where sustainability is just not a mere ‘feel good factor or a great CSR tool’, it has today become the most important aspect of sustenance. Companies which understand this sooner, will reap long term tangible benefits and gain the first-mover’s advantage, while those who still can’t get out of their age-old practices will have to face the consequences. The good news is that new-age companies are quick to take cues on eco-awareness and have come all out in implementing sustainability practices in their respective organizations and are inspiring others to follow suit. Here’s an insightful version of early adopters and how they are leading the pack…

Ketan Kulkarni, CMO & Head - Business Development, Blue Dart Express Ltd.

Building and managing supply chain operations is a key factor for business success in India. For a company to pursue sustainability, it is critical to link environmental, social, and financial goals within a broader strategy. Companies have become conscious regarding their environmental and societal impact. Organizations are actively taking responsibility and adapting their methods to meet emission norms to have a positive impact on changing weather patterns, their workforce, local communities and the environment. As stakeholders become more aware and conscious, sustainable supply chain operations will, in fact, become an integral part of the strategy. There is a conscious need for organizations to take note of their emissions and work towards reducing them out of true concern for the planet’s health and resources. The government has also introduced policies and norms that support us in working towards this. It is important for companies to begin viewing sustainable practices to achieve efficiency which increase profitability. Sustainable practices are no longer seen as a positive aspect but a necessity to continue as a successful entity.

Blue Dart is committed to improving its environmental impact through various measures and the use of environment friendly technology. We firmly believe that the social and environmental performance of a company is as vital as its financial and operational performance. As part of the DPDHL group Blue Dart has a focused approach to this with its carbon reduction program, the target was to hit 30% carbon reduction by 2020 over the 2007 base, we are on track. As a strategic imperative the group is also committed to becoming a zero-emission company by 2050.”

Raghavendra Rao, Logistics Team Lead, Kohler Kitchen & Bath India

There are many opportunities that are waiting to unfold for us as industry leaders in the supply chain to leverage and lead our companies towards greener pastures. Some of them are:

Optimize Network: Strategically supply chain network footprint determines how efficiently product flow is managed, from suppliers’ suppliers to our customers’ customers. Hence there can be opportunities identified through periodic review of Supplier ? Manufacturing ? Distribution Centre ? Fulfilment Centre ? Customer network to optimize material flows, which will potentially yield benefits by reduction in freight & carbon footprint overall.

Electric Fleet for Last Mile: Last mile delivery is a significant element of cost as well as fuel consumption in the value chain. With favorable developments across government policies, improvements in charging ecosystem, last mile delivery can now migrate to Electric Vehicle/Fleet. While the range anxiety and load capacity remain to be the areas of attention, EV adoption in pilot mode in limited geographies will be a good start.

Up-size dispatches by order consolidation & route optimization: Most of the B2C transactions are expected to be serviced by next day delivery. However, it is worthwhile to leverage consolidation opportunities and up-size dispatches. One of the ways to achieve this is to quantify the environmental impact for every shipment chosen for rush delivery. This can go a long way in sensitizing customers to make sustainable shipping choices.

Leverage E-Invoicing & E-Way Bill: Warehouse usually generates a large amount of paper waste through print of documents like picklists, invoices, waybills, etc. With E-Way Bill & E-invoicing (announced to be in effect from 1st April ‘2020 ), most of these transactions from warehouses should preferably move to paperless.

Natural Lighting, Insulation Technology: Electricity is one of the critical resources in automated warehouses for material handling requirements. At the same time, modern warehouses enable provisions for natural lighting and specialized insulation to keep temperatures inside the facility controlled even in extreme weather conditions. These steps will keep electricity consumption in control, thereby helping operations to be sustainable.

Bipin Odhekar, Head - Sustainability & Operations Excellence, Marico Ltd

Sustainability is no more a ‘nice to have’ strategy for businesses. As the world is becoming a global marketplace, all geographies are getting connected and no one can remain isolated. Therefore, any positive or negative impact in supply chain will get prominent attention by all. As we all know, resource optimization is the key challenge for supply chain, all resources like raw materials, packing materials, fuels, etc., are produced by earth with periodic cycle of regeneration. Current industrial revolution and its consumption rate is higher than the Earth’s ecological footprint. World is realizing this true fact as it is witnessing the environmental surprises like fire, tsunamis and floods, etc. Slowly progressing communities in sustainability space have alarmed about these changes and a formal recognition of the change came through a political alignment called “Paris agreement”. Efforts have started from all dimensions to reduce ill effects on this Earth and supply chain is going to play the most critical role in it. Supply chain teams across all businesses have a great potential to collaborate and develop sustainable business practices all over and make this earth a better place to live.

Mihir Parekh, Vice President & Head – BubbleGUARD, Nilkamal Ltd

In the new world of same-day delivery, a single global market with international shipping contrasted by hyperlocal logistics, supply chains have never been as efficient as they are today. However, transportation and packaging used in this new world are some of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, paper and plastic waste. Two big shifts we have seen in the market to address this has been the preference of locally manufactured and sourced products – cutting down transportation and imports. The next trend is to eliminate all single use packaging – opting instead for reusable, returnable and recyclable materials.

Single-use plastic has been widely discussed but a bigger issue is single-use paper packaging which is used by most companies. The packaging is susceptible to tearing and humidity resulting in damaged contents. It is also a huge waste of resources because carton boxes need large amounts of trees and water to produce. MNCs have become frontrunners in this aspect – by switching wooden for plastic pallets, paper for plastic cartons and replacing single use film packaging with multi-use plastic wraps. Reusable packaging results in huge long-term savings and a much lower carbon footprint. Western countries have already enforced legislations to make this change and companies in India should start acting proactively before they are blindsided by a change in laws. These sustainable practices not only ensure sustainability of the environment but also long-term sustainability of the business.

Prof. Seema Unnikrishnan, Professor and Programme Coordinator of the Post graduate programme in Industrial Safety and Environmental Management, NITIE

Indian Industry is moving towards sustainability in supply chain as it is essential for their existence. Working with suppliers to improve sustainability can help companies conserve natural resources and reduce carbon emissions. Industries are integrating sustainability from the Product Design stage to manufacturing to distribution to recovery processes at the end of life. One of the ways to manage sustainability in supply chain is by measuring the carbon footprint of the major aspects of supply chain. Carbon Footprint is defined as the total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product. More and more companies are carrying out the carbon footprint of Scope 1, Scope 2, Scope 3 emissions. They are realizing that Scope 3 emissions are the maximum and many times, it is due to the supply chain: all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions are Scope 3 emissions.

Sustainability is also gaining momentum due to various Industry collaborations like Together for Sustainability and Pharma Supply Chain Initiative [PSCI]. For example, the pharmaceutical Industry has introduced the Pharma Supply chain Initiative [PSCI] with 34 pharma units as members. This encourages the inclusion of PSCI Principles in the company’s responsible procurement or green buying program helping to influence and promotes senior leader awareness and engagement in responsible procurement.

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