Businesses are being held more and more accountable by customers for their sustainability and environmental responsibility. Plastic packaging is eschewed, and consumers are more mindful of the environmental impact of their purchases. ‘Green warehousing’ is becoming a focus for businesses, but how do you reduce the carbon footprint of a warehouse?
If you have stock and supplies stored in warehousing, here are some suggestions for how you can you make your warehouse more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
1. Reduce emissions
Your warehouse probably uses high levels of electricity to operate the lighting, and energy to heat or cool the warehouse depending on the temperature outside. Unless you’re using green energy sources such as wind or solar power, your warehouse is probably producing quite high emissions through this energy use.
To reduce these emissions, you could consider a number of options.
- Switch to motion-sensitive or timed lighting systems, so that your warehouse is only lit when staff need to access it (without relying on staff to remember to turn off unnecessary lights).
- LED lights are better for the environment and will lower your electricity costs, too. They’re brighter, they last longer and they use far less electricity.
- Instal wall and ceiling insulation if possible to help regulate internal temperature.
- Upgrade your windows and doors to minimise heat loss through drafts, and consider whether automated doors will increase or decrease the amount of time doors are left open (allowing heat or cool air to escape) - this will largely depend on the amount of staff using your warehouse and the amount of movement that may trigger automatic door opening throughout the day.
- Instal skylights to increase natural lighting without losing wallspace for shelves.
- Rather than using one large warehouse, could you switch to several smaller units that are easier to heat and light efficiently? Self storage warehouse spaces are available at Safestore in a range of sizes, and each is indoors and our UK stores are powered by 100% renewable electricity).
2. Decrease use of natural resources
You can greatly reduce the amount of paper your business uses by switching to a digital warehouse management system (WMS). You’ll be able to keep track of orders, locate stock more easily in the warehouse, and speed up distribution of your stock, too.
Installing solar panels and using captured rainwater or flow reduction plumbing devices will boost your eco-credentials even further.
3. Reduce waste and increase recycling
Another benefit of using a WMS is that you can reduce wasted inventory. If you have stock that has a shelf life, a WMS can make sure that stock is sent out not only within date but before newer stock.
You can switch to eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging, reducing reliance on materials that are difficult to recycle such as bubblewrap (there are quite a few environmentally friendly alternatives to bubblewrap now).
You could also investigate local options for recycling single-use plastic, so that even things like plastic wrap doesn’t end up in landfill. Depending on the packaging you use, you could initiate a returns system with your customers, whereby they receive a discount for returning used packaging that you can reuse for future customers.
Offsetting the costs of going green
The costs of switching to green warehousing can be off-putting, but over time you should see that investment cost being recovered through savings on your energy bills and positive customer feedback (which in turn converts to increased sales or new custom).
Customers will pay more for products that don’t impact negatively on the environment as long as they can see that they’re still getting good value for money whilst (vicariously) doing their bit for the environment - so make sure you publicise your efforts at every opportunity!