Warehouses are busy places. Goods are constantly on the move; inbound and outbound deliveries have to be dealt with as well as the movements of items from location to location. Many businesses now incorporate packing and assembly operations within the warehouse, creating an even more complex environment.
Businesses are trying to maximize their return on each dollar spent on warehouse operations. As well as incorporating value-added processes in the warehouse companies are looking to use environmentally focused procedures to reduce costs while increasing their social responsibility efforts.
When businesses look at making their warehouse processes more environmentally focused, they generally look at three main areas; reduce, reuse and recycle.
ReduceWhen we look at a warehouse there are many areas where businesses can reduce consumption, whether this is consumption of energy or resources. In turn, both of these concepts can help reduce spending. As energy costs continue to rise, any reduction in consumption will help the environment and a company’s bottom line.
Many businesses have been working to reduce the amount of packaging they use in shipping products. Advances in packaging materials allow a reduction in weight while maintaining efficiency. The reduction in packaging weight not only reduces shipping costs but saves energy by moving packing material and packed items around the warehouse. Biodegradable packaging materials are also an important part of this scenario, so customers are not liable for disposing of environmentally harmful packaging.
In the warehouse, businesses are reducing energy costs in a number of simple ways such as using motion sensors to only illuminate areas in use and charging forklift trucks in off-peak hours when energy costs are lower. Some companies are looking at introducing solar panels on the warehouse roof and intelligent electrical systems to take advantage of off-peak power.
ReuseWarehouses have been one area in a business that traditionally reuses materials. Items such as wood pallets and plastic totes are constantly reused in the warehouse. Some businesses are examining their warehouse processes to identify where reuse is appropriate.
One area that is of interest is in the adoption of returnable packaging for products. Some packaging can be extremely expensive to manufacture and is lost each time a product is sold. By increasing the life of the packaging and making it easy for customers to return, the packaging can be reused a number of times, reducing waste and saving money.
Other companies are trying to reuse the packaging material that they receive from their suppliers. Some packaging cardboard or packing can be reused and can reduce the amount of packing material that needs to be purchased.
RecycleRecycling of materials in the warehouse can significantly reduce waste. Sending used packaging and packing material to recycling facilities rather than waste facilities is the environmentally correct decision to make. However, there are many instances in a warehouse where recycling is also appropriate such as the recycling or environmentally correct disposal of batteries, oil, and chemicals. Many businesses have performed audits of their locations to identify areas and processes where they can be more environmentally focused.
These processes can significantly reduce costs as well as producing a more environmentally sound company.
However, despite the investment a company makes in order to improve its social responsibility, the employees need to change their work habits and follow new procedures that combined will help the environment and in turn, help the company’s bottom line.
Posted by: Brad Gething, PhD
The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) Technical and PDS Manager, Dr. Brad Gething, co-hosted a sold-out two and half day educational short course with Dr. Laszlo Horvath, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design (CPULD). The course, titled “Wood Pallet Design and Performance: Pallet Design in the 21st Century,” focused on developing techniques to design efficient and safe wood pallets using the industry standard software program, The Pallet Design System™ (PDS).
The course covered the major aspects of pallet design that affect performance: the location and dimensions of pallet components, the materials used, and the loading and handling conditions the pallet experiences. When these considerations are accounted for and simulated in PDS, pallet strength, stiffness and durability can be accurately predicted, leading to safer and more efficient pallet usage.
Amazon, DuPont, and 19 companies representing a broad cross-section of pallet manufacturers and recyclers, pallet brokers and end-users of pallets participated. Dr. Horvath noted, “We were very pleased to collaborate with NWPCA for the second year in a row. This partnership provides these packaging specialists a range of industry and academic experiences on safe pallet design techniques.” Added Dr. Gething, “CPULD at Virginia Tech is an outstanding facility to host a course on pallet design. The attendees were able to observe actual load tests in a lab setting while learning how to simulate loading a pallet using PDS.”
Planning for the spring of 2016 is already taking place, and will be held in Washington, DC. More information will be provided on both organization’s websites: PalletCentral.com and the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design.
The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) is the largest international organization of wood packaging professionals in the world with 640 member companies located throughout the United States and in 28 countries. The Pallet Design System™ (PDS) is the most used pallet design system in the world with 400 corporations in 24 countries using the software.
The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design housed in the Department of Natural Resources is the leading pallet and unit load research and testing laboratories. The laboratory was established in 1976 and since then it focuses on the education of Virginia Tech students, developing state-of-the-art research knowledge related to unit load interactions, and serving the needs of the pallet and packaging industries.
Dr. Brad Gething, NWPCA Technical and PDS Manager
703-519-6104 / email@example.com
Dr. Laszlo Horvath, Director of CPULD, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech
540-231-7673 / firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICAGO (CBS) — The days of taking your purchases home in a plastic bag may be numbered in the city of Chicago. A plastic bag ends up as litter in this Chicago street scene. (CBS)
A push is under way to make it illegal for city stores to pack up your goods in those bags, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.
Chicagoans use and throw away an estimated 3 billion plastic bags each year. And they’re not hard to spot being carried by shoppers all over town. Unfortunately, they’re also easy to spot everywhere, after they’ve been used and tossed. There seems to be a bumper crop this fall.
“India has banned them to the point where if you’re caught using them, you go to jail. Now, I’m not proposing that,” 1st Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno says
Moreno wants a new ordinance prohibiting big retailers from providing plastic bags to customers. Stores would be fined from $150 to $250 if they did not obey the law.
The billions of bags used in Chicago are not merely eyesores, Moreno argues. To make them takes 12 million barrels of oil each year, and they’re difficult to recycle. Plus, they can clog up the sewer system.
“I went out and talked to the guys that actually do it,” Moreno says. “They pull out hundreds of plastic bags out of our sewers. So, it’s costing the city money.”
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is promising to battle the proposed bag ban.
“Certainly consumers are using them. They obviously want to continue to use them, so we continue to provide them,” spokeswoman Tanya Triche says.
Moreno says if the outright ban doesn’t fly in the Council, he’ll go to Plan B: charging a tax of 10 cents on retailers for every plastic bag they buy. He figures that could bring millions of dollars in revenue to the city and put pressure on stores to stop using the bags.
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By Packaging Digest Staff in Flexible Packaging on March 18, 2009
The Reusable Packaging Association (RPA) has created a Reusable Packaging Economic Calculator to help businesses determine the cost savings of switching from single-use corrugated packaging to reusable packaging, it was announced today by the RPA. The calculator is available at http://www.choosereusables.org.
"Now more than ever, businesses are trying to reduce their operating expenses, and reusable transport packaging is a proven and effective way to reduce costs," said Bob Klimko, Chairman of the RPA Board and Director of General Industrial Marketing for ORBIS Corporation.
The Reusable Packaging Economic Calculator is based on a financial model that covers the key concepts in the comparison of the per container cost of both reusable and single-use packaging. The tool allows a potential reusable packaging user to perform some basic financial analysis to determine if the supply chain in question is financially conducive to reusable packaging. The calculator was developed in cooperation with StopWaste.Org (www.stopwaste.org).
The model compares basic cost differences of single-use corrugated packaging and reusable packaging. The calculator factors in corrugated costs, dwell time (how long containers are held at various stages of the supply chain), cartons shipped annually, annual interest rate, return miles for reusables, and the expected replacement rate. While the model uses factual inputs from prospective users, it is intended to offer guidance and not an absolute indication of exact cost benefits. More specific models are available to determine specific cost benefits, and additional assistance is available from RPA member companies.
“The calculator is a great tool for potential users to show their CFOs and others in the company the hard numbers to start a conversation about switching to reusable packaging,” said Jerry Welcome, President, RPA. “In addition to these quantifiable savings, reusable packaging has been proven to reduce costs in other ways, including reducing product damage caused by faulty containers, reducing labor costs and injuries, reducing space required for inventory, and increasing productivity. These savings can help businesses weather today’s challenging economic environment.”
Incorporating reusable packaging into the supply chain also can help corporations meet their environmental and sustainability objectives. Reusable containers have been proven to reduce solid waste and greenhouse gas emissions, improve transportation efficiency, and reduce energy use. These claims were substantiated in a landmark study conducted by Franklin Associates in 2004, Life Cycle Inventory of Reusable Plastic Containers and Display Ready Corrugated Containers Used for Fresh Produce Applications.