Going Green in the Warehouse

September 6, 2013

In an effort to minimize costs and increase social responsibility, many warehousing and fulfillment companies are looking to implement environmentally friendly practices that minimize their carbon footprint and reduce environmental pollution. Here are some eco-friendly ideas for how your warehouse can go green!

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

The importance of the three Rs, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, has been ingrained in our heads since a young age, yet many times we neglect this concept in the warehouse.  The warehouse is the perfect place to start reducing, reusing and recycling. Here are a few simple ways to get started:

  1. Don’t throw it away! Increase the life of packaging by reusing and recycling packing materials. By creating a recycling bin in your warehouse, you can give used materials a new life. Warehouses must recycle cardboard, plastics and paper materials in order to make their unit more eco-friendly.
  2. Another way to reduce & reuse is to make it easy for customers to return by creating collapsible packing or pre-paid freight. This way the packaging can be used many times, helping to reduce waste and save money. 
  3. Reusing pallets is a great way to save money and be environmentally friendly. According to Premier Handling Solutions, 54% of pallets are disposed of after just one use. Once a pallet is no longer in commission, make sure you recycle it. Recycling wood shipping pallets helps to minimize waste.
  4. Use recycled packing materials (i.e. recycled paper and cello flat air bubble made out of recycled plastic) and shipping boxes made from recycled materials.
  5. Other green ideas commonly implemented include offering paperless invoices which can dramatically reduce the amount of paper used. Another idea is to take advantage of today’s technology and offer digital products that are delivered electronically – this is 100% green! You can also lower the possibility for obsolescent inventory and disposal of out dated products by using a print-on-demand solution offering a green alternative to bulk printing. Print-on-demand reduces paper and disposal as well as costs for printing, storage and shipping – and that’s a win - win.

Lighting

According to a study by Smart Energy Design, lighting accounts for the biggest energy cost in a warehouse. By adopting modern technologies for lighting, you can reduce your lighting energy by up to 50%. Here are a few ways to reduce your energy use and cost of lighting in your warehouse:

  1. Use motion sensors in low traffic areas. This will trigger lights to turn on only when the area is being utilized.
  2. Choose fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lights use less energy for the same amount of light and have better color rendering, in addition to uniform light distribution.
  3. Clean and replace lamps on a fixed schedule to avoid dirt build-up and ensure full-light output
  4. Consider installing more natural lighting, such as skylights or solar panels, which allows the sun to help reduce our dependence on electricity and lower energy costs.

Electric vs. Gas Forklifts

As society’s concerns over pollution and air quality have increased, so have warehousing companies’ focus on the use of electric equipment. The use of electric forklifts eliminate tailpipe emissions produced by gas forklifts which can result in improved employee health and have less impact on the environment. By using electric forklifts, the cost of fuel is eliminated which results in estimated savings of $26,000 in propane over 5 years of using a 5,000lb capacity forklift 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Electric forklifts typically have better turning radius specifications which can increase storage capacity, reduce product and truck damage and/or increase productivity. What’s more, electric lift trucks produce less noise during operation which results in a better, safer work environment for your employees.

Whether you’re building a new warehouse or redesigning your existing warehouse, it is important to keep the health of your employees and the environment in mind. Going green in the warehouse not only benefits the environment and your employees, but can save your company money and make you more efficient. 

Check out some of PBD's green initiatives!

Sources: 

http://www.fleetmanconsulting.com/

http://smartenergy.arch.uiuc.edu

http://www.premierhandling.com/

Topics: Distribution Center, Fulfillment Center, Fulfillment Companies, Product Fulfillment Services, Green Warehouse, Digital Distribution, Environmentally Friendly

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