VINELAND, N.J. — With more than 16 billion tons of cargo moving across the country each year, greening up a supply chain can have a significant impact on the environment. What’s on the bottom of every supply chain? Pallets. Each year in the U.S. alone, more than 1 billion pallets help move goods across the country. “That’s a lot of opportunities to eco-up the supply chain,” says Michael Smith, C.O.O. of PALNET, a nationwide supplier of shipping pallets and logistics management.
According to Smith, “If every shipper switched to environmentally-friendly pallets, it would have a profoundly positive effect on the ecological health of the planet.” And Smith isn’t the only one who thinks the planet would benefit from greener shipping procedures. Wal-Mart and other big players are deeply involved and committed to green supply chain initiatives.
For instance, Wal-Mart recently issued a vendor questionnaire that asks suppliers specific questions about green and socially responsible issues. Their answers impact their choice of vendors.
Among those questions are:
* Have you measured your greenhouse emissions?
* Have you set publicly available solid waste reduction targets?
* Have you established publicly available sustainability guidelines?
* Do you have a process for managing social compliance at the manufacturing level?
In a recent survey of supply chain executives, 70 percent said that environmental issues are of prime importance in their decision process and 57 percent expect that their eco-initiatives will return financial and public relations dividends.
How do you determine the greenness of your pallets? Smith’s advice is to choose the one with the smallest footprint. “You have to look at the environmental trail before you decide. Plastic pallets begin their life in an oil well, travel long distances in an oil tanker, then go through a manufacturing process with a heavy environmental footprint.”
Smith adds, “Our wooden pallets are made from the excess trim of the lumbering process. If this trim didn’t go into the manufacturing of wooden pallets, it would end up in an already overcrowded landfill. That makes the manufacturing of wooden pallets actually an environmental plus because it uses waste instead of creating it. At the end of their life, our wooden pallets are ground up into garden mulch. They’re green from beginning to end.”
For more information on PALNET and its products and services contact the company at 1-877-PALNET-1, or online: www.palnetusa.com .