As warehouses seek ways to cut operational costs while maintaining productivity and efficiency, many are looking to green initiatives as a means to reduce waste and lower energy costs. Eco-friendly warehouse initiatives can range from the simple to the exceedingly complex, but implementing green innovations holds tremendous promise both in terms of cost reductions and other non-financial perks, such as branding and vendor relations.
Below are a few green initiatives today’s eco-minded warehouses are implementing to lessen their environmental footprint and cut costs.
1. Eco-Friendly Lighting Alternatives
Lighting is one of the most cost-effective investments for warehouse operations, offering savings of up to 80 percent compared to traditional lighting technologies. While there’s an upfront cost associated with replacing traditional lighting with LEDs and other energy-saving alternatives, the cost savings over time is well worth the investment. LEDs and other environmentally friendly lighting alternatives cost more upfront, but they also take less energy to run and don’t need to be replaced as often — meaning you’ll also save on labor costs by not having to replace lighting as frequently.
2. Warehouse Identification
Warehouse identification is a valuable investment for warehouses, providing data that helps to reduce waste and streamline operations through more efficient picking and stocking. Options such as multi-level warehouse rack labels make it quicker and easier for workers to identify the proper racks and shelves, speeding order fulfillment and cutting down on labor costs, while hanging warehouse signs and long-range retroreflective signs and labels make overall navigation seamless.
3. Optimized Warehouse Layouts
Data gained through asset tracking can be used to design optimized facility layouts, which in turn can cut down on labor and energy costs by making fast-moving stock more accessible and reducing travel time throughout the facility. There are a variety of methodologies for maximizing space utilization and organizing the facility layout to reduce the time it takes to stock shipments and fulfill orders, which improves labor efficiency and boosts vendor and customer relationships through better service delivery. By making better use of vertical space, warehouses can store more stock, directly impacting the bottom line.
4. Water-Saving Initiatives
While most warehouses consume much more electricity than they do water, water-saving efforts are still a worthy green initiative for today’s warehouses. From installing low-flow toilets and faucets, you can cut down on water waste from everyday use, whether from toilets and sinks in restrooms or hoses used for cleaning and maintenance.
5. Energy-Efficient Equipment
Warehouses have more options today than ever when it comes to equipment such as forklifts. As the industry is increasingly aware of environmental concerns, more warehouses are choosing to invest in electric forklifts instead of their gas-powered counterparts.
“The use of electric forklifts eliminate tailpipe emissions produced by gas forklifts which can result in improved employee health and have less impact on the environment,” explains PBD Worldwide. “By using electric forklifts, the cost of fuel is eliminated which results in estimated savings of $26,000 in propane over 5 years of using a 5,000 lb capacity forklift 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.”
6. Recycling Programs
Warehouses can also cut costs and reduce their environmental impact by implementing reuse and recycle initiatives. Most warehouses already reuse items such as pallets and crates or totes, but it’s worth conducting an audit to determine what items your facility continuously disposes of and if there are reusable alternatives to reduce waste. Some warehouses are minimizing waste by reusing packaging materials such as cardboard and packing rather than disposing of it when feasible. Waste that can’t be reused should be recycled when possible.
Why Going Green is an Investment That Pays Off
Going green requires an upfront investment, but it’s an investment that more warehouses are finding worth the effort as cost savings continue to be realized for years after initial implementation. In some cases, going greener is simple and even free. It doesn’t cost much (if anything) to start a reuse and recycle initiative, for example.
Other efforts, such as energy-efficient lighting alternatives and equipment, come with a larger initial investment but promise substantial savings for years to come. If your warehouse operation isn’t as eco-minded as it could be, perhaps it’s time to conduct an audit and identify eco-friendly initiatives that can save you money and benefit the environment.
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