There's been a lot of talk about the green movement and what it means to the supply chain. But what concrete steps can supply chain managers take to reduce their carbon footprint? A case study in the Quarter 4/2009 edition of CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly outlines the steps that one organization —U.S. yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm —took on its way toward reducing annual carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2014. Here are five steps the company has taken:
Consolidated less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments into full truckloads. To promote truckload delivery, the yogurt maker established order minimums for customers and began requiring 48 hours' advance notice of order revisions. It also undertook route optimization. As a result, the company was able to eliminate more than four million miles and some 2,500 truck trips from 2006 to 2007, reducing its CO2 per ton delivered by about 40 percent.
Encouraged motor carriers to reduce carbon emissions. Stonyfield accomplished this by incorporating environmental considerations into performance scorecards and encouraging its carriers to participate in the EPA's SmartWay Program. And the shipper inserted stipulations that motor carriers use new, lower-emission equipment into any new transportation contracts it signed.
Conducted a network analysis with an eye toward reducing the number of miles traveled during deliveries. Stonyfield's analysis examined its distribution patterns, inventory deployment, and customer locations. Analysts looked at scenarios that included adding new plants and distribution centers to shorten lengthy, nationwide routes. (The company has decided not to go that route yet.)
Switch some highway shipments to rail. In 2009, the company began using Railex, a weekly refrigerated railcar service for food products, to move orders to the Pacific Northwest. One slight drawback is that the company needs an additional day's notice to prepare rail shipments. Still, the service has been successful enough from both an environmental and a cost standpoint that Stonyfield plans to use Railex to deliver product to customers in California, Texas, and Florida by 2012.
Upgrade tractor and trailer equipment to "greener" models. Stonyfield has worked with its third-party logistics provider, Ryder Logistics, to replace three of the four tractors and four of the six refrigerated trailers in its small dedicated fleet. The new tractors have on-board computers that monitor drivers' compliance with curbs on engine idling and with the company's 63-miles-per-hour speed limit. The new units also come with such enhancements as special tires and direct-drive transmission for better fuel economy. The fleet is now averaging 6.3 miles per gallon, a big jump from the 5.25 miles per gallon it achieved in the past. As a result of purchasing new equipment, the dedicated fleet has cut its carbon emissions by 10.4 percent.
To learn more about Stonyfield Farm's environmental efforts, see "On the road to a smaller carbon footprint."