Eco-friendly, sustainable and green. Everyone is talking about these buzzwords. However, with climate change deadlines looming, sustainability is no longer an interesting idea — it’s a necessity.
Warehouse owners and those in the logistics industry must determine how to make facilities eco-friendly. How can you implement green initiatives without sacrificing productivity and profit?
Invest in Natural Lighting
Most buildings are reliant on artificial lighting. Designers often ignore options like windows and skylights when building for utility rather than aesthetic. However, warehouse owners can switch to natural lighting options that reduce energy reliance. Ensure you opt for double-paned glass, which keeps structures insulated and comfortable.
If natural options aren’t available, choose LED bulbs. LEDs do the same work as incandescent and fluorescent alternatives while using 80% less energy, keeping utility costs low. Plus, these bulbs last much longer than other options, shrinking your carbon and waste output. If you’re ready to skyrocket to the 21st-century, research renewable energy options, like solar and wind power.
Go Paper Free
It’s nearly 2020. If you’re still using paper invoices and inventories, why? An eco-friendly commitment means going paper-free. Trade in the traditional invoices for digital options. A computerized system is more efficient — if you make a mistake, you can fix it in an instant. You can also scan in data through a handheld scanner or smartphone.
Start by looking at current processes. Where can you adopt digital alternatives? You might be surprised how easy it is to make the transition. Calculate how much you spend each year on printing costs, including ink and paper. Then, compare that number to the start-up cost for a digital system, which doesn’t require ongoing supplies. While a paper-free system might require a higher investment, it will lead to substantial long-term savings.
Install Polished Concrete Floors
Warehouse floors are typically concrete. Polished concrete doesn’t require harsh or dangerous chemicals during its application or upkeep. It’s denser than traditional options, meaning it’s energy-efficient. It’s also sealed and resistant to damage, so you don’t have to worry about costly repairs or replacement. Additionally, you can make concrete in the quantity needed for the project which reduces waste.
Despite the high-end appearance of polished concrete, it’s more affordable than most options. The start-up and lifecycle cost is similar to other inexpensive choices, like carpet.
Lean manufacturing is a process where companies create an efficient workplace by reducing waste and streamlining processes. Not producing anything in your factory? No problem. One of the primary tenements of lean manufacturing — waste reduction — can make your facility eco-friendly.
Waste isn’t merely what you toss in the garbage. It can be lost time, movement and space. Do customers wait a long time for their orders? That’s another form of waste. Do you use too many resources to create a product? Perhaps you over-ordered product and use much-needed floor space to store it. Analyze current procedures and determine what you can do to reduce waste and make your facility greener.
Improve Your Insulation
Warehouses can be hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Owners might shell out a lot of money to keep workers comfortable regardless of the weather outside. If you want to create a relaxed atmosphere and reduce your carbon footprint, don’t open the doors and windows. Instead, upgrade your insulation and weather-stripping. You should also use fans to keep air moving, taking less pressure off the HVAC system.
Look into eco-friendly insulation options you can add to your building. Sheep’s wool, for example, is a renewable resource with natural insulative properties. When you compress wool fiber, it forms millions of tiny air pockets. These air pockets keep buildings warm in winter and cool in summer. As a result, you don’t need to adjust your thermostat as much and can save big.
Upgrade Your Packaging
When most of us think of packaging, Styrofoam packing peanuts, plastic bubble wrap and cardboard boxes come to mind. For those interested in improving their carbon footprint, make the switch to eco-friendly packaging. Opt for biodegradable peanuts instead of Styrofoam. Choose corrugated paper bubble wrap instead of plastic. Use as much recycled material as possible.
Look into innovative packaging ideas that you can adopt. For example, experts believe seaweed may take over the plastic industry. Seaweed packaging dissolves in hot water and is safe for consumption. If you don’t want to eat it, you can dispose of it in the garden or compost pile for natural fertilizer. Manufacturers who use seaweed packaging can print logos directly onto the outside.
Make Your Warehouse Eco-Friendly
It’s not an option to go green — it’s a necessity. Sustainability doesn’t mean a loss in productivity or profit. Instead, you can incorporate the tactics above, such as lean manufacturing, polished concrete, natural lighting and eco-friendly packaging. The result is a facility more efficient than ever before.