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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Supply Chain Critical to Zero Waste Success

Recycling made easy for employees
photo courtesy of Subaru
In the ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, the WE Consciousness is introduced as one of three culture shifts necessary to succeed on the zero waste path. The first WE Consciousness step applies to employees across departments teaming together for contaminant-free material collection.  

Next the company works with haulers and recycling companies to create systems where the material maintains maximum valuable for sale with a low carbon footprint. These steps are integrated and often occur in unison.

Once the by-products and materials generated in a company's operations are reused, re-purposed or recycled, the remaining "trash" destined for landfills often relates to transport packaging for office items and raw materials used in production processes. Zero waste companies across industry sectors work in partnership with their suppliers to create reusable and | or recyclable transport packaging, thus edging closer to the finite "zero"

Understanding the supply chain's imperative role for zero waste success, Inside Supply Chain Management published The Journey to a Zero-Waste Supply Chain in their March issue Sustainability Column. Written by Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore, the article is introductory in nature. with an overview of zero waste including the WE Consciousness.  

The article addresses how zero waste practices are locally driven by available infrastructure and material end markets. Infrastructure is defined as recycling companies that accept specified, presorted materials and the hauling companies that transport material from the generating company to the recycling company. 

Recycling Integrity - maintaining maximum material value with minimal energy expended -  is at the foundation for long-term program success. Local end markets, along with the commodity market, dictate how best to aggregate and sell material for recycling. Energy is defined as labor hours and effort, transportation, electricity | water and other energy used within the entire system.

Scott w/ fellow Ei Ptr Amy Moreland
of Heritage Interactive Services
Zero waste icons Piazza Produce and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, worked closely with their supply chain to develop transport packaging that was either reusable or recyclable.  When reusable, the supplier picks up the packaging upon a subsequent delivery. Often, the supplier experiences decreased costs by working closely with their customer on reusable solutions; an add-value is deepened client loyalty.

For specific examples of Piazza Produce's WE Consciousness in action, visit the Ei FB album, 09-24-12 Piazza Produce Zero Waste Tour.  Piazza Produce facility manager Scott Lutocka - the gentleman responsible for their zero waste success - wrote informative comments on many of the pictures, creating a valuable industry tool.

The Journey to a Zero-Waste Supply Chain article ends with examples of Subaru's team work at play with their Japan corporate headquarters as well as their suppliers. For an article pdf, visit the Ei Media page to download the file.  An on-line version is not available.

Reusable stacked pkging
photo courtesy of Subaru
NOW is the time for the supply chain to take an active role in their products' life cycle, ensuring integrity is maintained during the production process, delivery | transportation and their customer's disposition options at end of life. Leaders step forward in a proactive manner working within the WE Consciousness to create innovative solutions that benefit the entire industry. Zero waste is only one of many components within product life cycle integrity.

Thank you Institute for Supply Management for taking an important proactive step by publishing the zero waste article in your monthly trade association magazine. Associations are a support avenue to guide members as markets and customer expectations | demands evolve.

Industry leaders understand sustainable practices are business best practices, driven by corporate and personal consumer demand. Beyond their own internal practices. leaders demand their supply chain shifts to sustainable best practices to ensure product life cycle integrity. 

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