Urgent need for 3PL to work towards achieving carbon-neutrality

Many organisations are aiming to become carbon neutral by reducing the carbon footprints through various environment- positive strategies. This means, any carbon released as a waste by any of the business activities would be balanced by removing equal amount of it from the environment. With the increase in the complexity of supply chains, organisations need to get into the details of their processes to find ways for doing this. 3PL service providers form important part of supply chain systems. They too, need to plan for an eco-friendly future that could support their partners to achieve carbon neutrality.

Cutting down on wastage, reduced consumption of resources, and minimal greenhouse carbon emission have become necessary steps that an organisation can take to showcase a responsible behaviour. In case of third party logistics, the operational activities involved are huge in scale. These include warehousing, transportation, freight forwarding, inventory management and packaging. These processes involve resource management that helps 3PL service providers in providing advantage over speed, cost, infrastructure and technology.

This change can be attributed to the shift in the consumer behaviour towards responsible and sustainable practices. The end-consumer has become aware of the processes a business undertakes while manufacturing and delivering the products and services. Today, the consumer is smart enough to understand the environmental impact of over-usage of resources versus usage of responsible and eco-friendly solutions. Hence, all the partners that are involved in producing the goods and services for the consumer are in a race to make the supply chain carbon neutral.

One of the first initiative that can be taken in this regard is the re-designing of organisational procedures at every level. All the departments or parts of services that 3PL provides should be undertaken separately. Amount of carbon emission should be calculated separately for different functions. A cross-functional team can be made responsible for monitoring the operational changes and can ensure better human resource management especially at the ground- level staff.

3PL service providers can work upon different functions to reduce the carbon footprints and become more responsible partners for their customers.

Multi-modal transportation
Striking the right balance between the different modes of transportation is something that a 3PL company could do efficiently. Use of waterways and airways would reduce the use of road ways that can help in reducing carbon emission. The right combination of different modes of transportation can prove to be beneficial in the longer run.

Vehicle choices
The vehicles that are being used for the transportation should be chosen wisely. Organisations should aim at using low carbon emission vehicles or the vehicles with hybrid-fuel consumption. It is the responsibility of the firm to keep a check on the maximum limit of carbon emission from the vehicles used.

Route planning
Technological advancement has enabled the use of smart tracking and smart route planning. Through this, drivers can be tracked and informed regarding the traffic conditions and can be suggested a better route to save time and energy.

Green – warehousing
The warehouse facilities can help in reducing the carbon emission to a larger extent. The facilities could use eco-friendly alternative modes of energy like solar panels and green buildings. Water harvesting systems can be installed as these warehouses are stationed facilities.

Recycling the packaging
Packaging function can create a huge amount of wastage. Keeping this in check and recycling of the packaging material can act as a initial step to reduce wastage. Packaging design could play an important role in avoiding excess use of the material.

It is important to note that carbon emission from supply chains are 11.4 times higher than that from other operational functions like manufacturing. Thus, carbon emission reduction should be incorporated in the smaller units of the organisational structure of supply chain. 3PL firms need to realise their contribution in this and act accordingly.