Supplier Award Winner: Container Exchanger
In addition to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality for its offices by the end of 2009, Container Exchange offers its clients returnable packaging broker services, resell folding bulk containers, metal storage bins, plastic industrial totes, plastic pallets and used Gaylord boxes throughout the U.S. market. "Our clients, both buyers and sellers, use our services to reduce their own carbon footprints while simultaneously improving profitability," says David Madden, president of the company.
Returnable packaging reduces landfill waste and energy consumption when compared to expendable packaging. However, over time, as a company's product mix changes or a manufacturing contract expires, it may no longer have a use for the packaging associated with particular parts. In most cases, the packaging is still perfectly useable, but because they no longer have a use for the containers, the companies would have typically sold the containers to a scrap company, which would reprocess the materials, creating pollution, waste and additional energy use.
Container Exchange acts as a matchmaker between companies looking to dispose of returnable packaging and those looking to acquire the packaging. It is true that transportation of the packaging between buyer and seller through less-than-truckload and truckload-size shipments consumes energy, primarily in the form of fossil fuels. But Madden believes that as his company's network increases in size and adds buyers and sellers, the chances of locating a matching set of returnable packaging close to a buyer increases, and that close proximity creates a financial and environmental impact through reduced freight costs and fuel use. Container Exchange currently is running at a rate of 400,000 lbs. of repurposed material per month.
Green Supply Chain Enablers
IHS Inc. (Englewood, Colo., www.ihs.com) Green is, at its heart, a product issue, and IHS has the data that drive the green product lifecycle. The company provides expertise and information designed to help companies manage product lifecycles and enable green performance. Its areas of expertise include eco-friendly and lead-free design, green chemical performance, high reliability and sustainability, strategic obsolescence management, and supply chain and product change management.
Earlier this year the company expanded its green portfolio with the acquisition of two leading environmental information companies: Dolphin Software, a provider of solutions for chemical data and formula information to help companies pursue the evolving discipline of total chemical management; and Environmental Software Providers (ESP), a provider of enterprise information solutions to help companies manage their corporate-wide sustainability programs.
ILOG Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif., www.ilog.com) If green supply chain has a guru, it surely is David Simchi-Levi, the MIT professor turned software visionary who has led the development of ILOG's LogicNet solutions. Simchi-Levi has written and spoken extensively before industry audiences about applying supply chain optimization to the challenge of reducing a supply chain's total carbon footprint. In his talks on the topic, he cites examples from his own practice that demonstrate the reducing carbon emissions can go hand-in-hand with reducing overall supply chain costs.
ILOG has built Simchi-Levi's vision into its LogicNet Plus 6.0 XE solution, offering a Carbon Footprint module designed to help evaluate the impact of various supply chain network configurations and transportation strategies on their carbon footprint and provide alternative plans that will reduce carbon emissions. The goal: enable companies to make environmentally-sound choices when designing and managing their supply chains. Fonterra, a dairy producer from New Zealand that is responsible for more than one-third of all global dairy trade, uses the solution to track "food miles," the distance food must travel to reach its destination, as a key measure of carbon effectiveness and as a way to understand and calculate the tradeoffs between cost and environmental impact.
Green Supply Chain Enablers
Global4PL Supply Chain Services (Santa Clara, Calif., www.global-4pl.com). Global4PL Supply Chain Services' green supply goals are to help companies achieve the maximum reduction of the carbon footprint and minimize their negative effects to the environment by enabling its customers to achieve what it calls "green cost efficient supply chains." The company's services include understanding how its clients source their raw materials to indentify more efficient sources of supply closer to the clients' operations to eliminate unnecessary movement of goods; incorporating environmental and quality criteria factors into the sourcing and request for quotation processes; analyzing and reducing packaging requirements; and optimizing the frequency and pattern of shipments companies to achieve better consolidation and optimization volume of their shipments, reducing both the number of movements as well as reduce the cost of their movements.
Profit Point (North Brookfield, Mass., www.profitpt.com). Profit Point has developed Green Network, a standalone planning software package used to design supply chain distribution networks that must balance profitability and environmental impact. Green Network can be used to measure a company's operational footprint while it analyzes the placement and location of production facilities, distribution centers and warehouses over a multi-period planning horizon. The solution also allows a company to model its existing or proposed supply chain for a geographic area, with its locations, flow limits, costs and any number of environmental byproducts, including carbon dioxide.
Spinnaker (Denver, Colo., www.spinnakermgmt.com). This supply chain consultancy has adopted internal green goals around reducing solid wastes and energy consumption, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The company has regular discussions with members of its supply base to cover "green" topics and discuss the steps they are taking to promote sustainable and environmentally favorable behaviors. In addition, sourcing teams under its management often include questions on outbound requests for products/services where providers must describe how they will support corporate responsibility goals and environmental initiatives, and help to operate the supply chain efficiently.