Posted by: Matthew Molinari | June 29, 2012

Sustainability and the Supply Chain

Please check out my video blog above. In it I talk about a very interesting idea that I heard about from a classmate. The issue revolved around the shipping containers the company used which were made of styrofoam. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years you’ve probably heard that styrofoam isn’t exactly biodegradable.

Unfortunately, this company doesn’t have a current viable alternative to shipping using styrofoam. What they did come up with was a very interesting and inventive alternative. The business made a decision that they were not comfortable allowing customers to simply throw away the packaging after each order. However, asking a customer to spend time and money to send back an empty container or to have them locate proper recycling locations was not working.

The business took the initiative, and cost, to print and pay for return shipping labels so that the customers could simply attach the label and have their UPS or Fed Ex pick up the package free of charge. The labels were all pre-paid and addressed to a recycling plant in Reno that was equipped to properly dispose of styrofoam.

I thought this was a perfect example of a company performing a product life cycle review and determining that the impact was too high. I can assure you that doing nothing would have been much more cost-effective, and completely legal, but sustainability was important enough  that something was done about it.

Oh yea, I mentioned some good blogs about sustainable supply chains in the video so here they are (at least the ones I read regularly). Check them out when you get a chance, they are worth a read:


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