Sustainability Starts With a Clean Supply Chain
Sustainability continues to be the word of the day in all areas of business and life. Companies in the United States have made great progress in reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts. In many cases, our country leads the world in these efforts, but there is still much more that can be done.
In our industry of prestige fragrances and cosmetics, the focus tends to be on what consumers do with their empty product containers. That’s important, but the production of consumer goods has a much larger and greatly overlooked environmental impact along the entire manufacturing supply chain.
For example, driving a new electric vehicle never will come close to offsetting the damage done to the environment while building the electric car. You are actually better off driving a used gas-powered car that already did its damage when it was manufactured.
The same is true of the products in the glass packaging industry. Even though a cream or perfume bottle is recyclable when it’s empty, that environmental benefit is a drop in the ocean compared to the carbon footprint required to produce the bottle. This side of the sustainability equation rarely gets an in-depth look.
It is clear that, supply chains, for most organizations, have a far greater impact on the environment than any other part of their operations. While most corporate and public focus has been on the sustainable profile of a product, (i.e. its source and whether it is recyclable), there is a need to spotlight and to understand the sustainability issues related to the transportation and distribution of those products.
—Sustainable Supply Chain Foundation
As a link in our clients’ supply chain, at Decotech we are very serious about how our manufacturing process impacts the environment and have taken many measures to mitigate our footprint to contribute to sustainability and safety. Here are just a few of our accomplishments so far:
- Renewable Power: At Decotech we derive an incredible 40 percent of our electricity needs from a large rooftop solar installation that went live at the end of 2016. We partnered with tenK Solar because they make the most efficient panels in the business, and they cover more of our roof than other panels could.
- Zero-Waste-to-Landfill: We have partnered with our waste-stream management company to divert 100 percent of our non-hazardous waste from all landfill destinations. Rather than take up landfill space, our non-recyclable trash is converted to energy and funneled back into our local power grid as a renewable source of power.
- Natural Resource Conservation: In the past 24 months we have reduced our water consumption during manufacturing by an incredible 96 percent. We have developed new, cleaner decorating processes to replace old heavy-consumption processes.
- Re-use of Packaging Material: We re-pack finished decorated bottles and containers in exactly the same cartons and packaging in which we received them. This simple practice avoids a staggering amount of waste.
Other ways to make a supply chain more environmentally friendly include: regional/local sourcing to reduce transit time and emissions; efficient packaging to fit more items into a smaller space (aluminum beer cans compared to glass bottles, for example); and using lighter or less dense packing material to lighten the transportation load and consume fewer raw materials in manufacturing (such as the super-thin walls of Poland Spring water bottles).
Some sustainability leaders, like Subaru, have been at it for years. They know improving the manufacturing supply chain has the most significant environmental benefit. But we are only just beginning to see an honest focus on supply chain sustainability across industries.