The "go green" initiative has been around since 2002, pushing individuals and corporations alike to reduce their carbon footprints and make their operations more eco-friendly. With millions of people working in the warehousing and storage sector of the American economy, even small changes in warehousing practices can make a big difference for the environment as a whole. Let's take a look at some simple and effective ways you can make your warehouse more eco-friendly.
Recycling your packing materials is a great way to reduce your waste production and save money at the same time. Set up recycling centers throughout the warehouse for cardboard, plastics, paper, and anything else you may use for packing. Reuse cardboard boxes, when possible, and recycle the cardboard when it is too worn to be trusted. Be sure to ask each of your clients about how they wish to have their items packaged and handled, as they may have protocol in place that would prevent (or improve) your recycling efforts.
Approximately 54% of wood pallets are disposed of after just one use, regardless of their structural integrity. When you add up that cost over the course of a year, you can quickly see a ton of money and wood being thrown away for no reason. Reuse your wood pallets as long as you can, and then recycle them once they are no longer strong enough to stand up to your loads. Ask your employees to conduct a brief inspection of the pallets after each use to determine when they should be recycled.
Yet another way to reduce waste in warehousing is to use paperless communication systems. Ask your clients to enroll in paperless billing so you can invoice them directly through email or text message. If you send out daily, weekly or monthly inventory reports, you may ask your clients if they wish to receive these electronically. Most will choose the paperless options anyway because they receive the information faster and don't have to worry about it getting lost in the mail.
Proper lighting makes a huge difference in the way a warehouse operates on a daily basis. Because of this, you likely have an assortment of lights illuminating nearly every inch of your warehouse. Make sure that the bulbs and fixtures you are using are low-energy and eco-friendly. Fluorescent lighting uses a minimal amount of energy, and it allows for better light distribution.
If possible, consider installing more windows or skylights in your facility to allow natural light in during the day. This could cut down your energy bills considerably and still give you the lighting you need. Set up motion detectors in low-traffic areas of the warehouse so the lights only come on when a worker is present. Once again, this saves you from paying for lighting you don't actually need.
If you are still using gas forklifts in your warehouse, consider upgrading to electric ones. This will eliminate the forklift emissions in your facility and improve the air quality considerably. It will also save you money in fuel, to the tune of $26,000 in propane over the course of 5 years. Electric forklifts are usually easier to maintain, longer lasting, and more maneuverable than gas forklifts, so you can increase your productivity and decrease your costs at the same time. Your investment will soon pay for itself. Follow the suggestions above to go green in warehousing, and you can make a big difference in the environment around you.
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