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Collaborative Relationships Key to Overcoming Obstacles on the Path to a Circular Economy

Forging strategic partnerships can unlock immediate win-win solutions while also creating a roadmap for future success across the supply network.

Modern businesses know that the pursuit of a sustainable future has become the cornerstone of innovation and growth. Brands across sectors grapple with the challenge of establishing meaningful partnerships throughout their complex supply network. However, within this challenge lies a massive opportunity for sustainable business transformation. The journey towards increased brand sustainability relies on collaborative efforts that transcend traditional boundaries and dismantle barriers to pave the way for collective success.

As a global leader in the supply chain industry, CHEP knows firsthand how the power of collaboration fuels a more sustainable future. By fostering strategic partnerships with brands and companies of all sizes, the company aims to create a fully circular system within its operations through a collaborative share, repair and reuse program. Any organization that buys pallets of products has the potential to become a participant of CHEP’s circular model. When pallets are sent to the landfill or otherwise not returned to CHEP, this creates costly replacement fees, added labor costs, distribution surcharges and planetary harm.

While any organization that buys pallets of products has the potential to become a participant of CHEP’s circular model, it has achieved the highest level of success with participants such as manufacturers and retail consumer goods companies. The more challenging partnerships to develop are found among organizations that do not typically prioritize pallets in their primary operations and logistics — such as airports and hospitals.

Two main obstacles identified when enlisting new participants into CHEP’s circular model are identifying the right relationships and educating on the program’s environmental benefits.

As CHEP is a Member of the Sustainable Brands® (SB) Member Network, Dennis Raffa — Senior Program Manager of the company's Zero Waste World program at CHEP North America — jumped at the opportunity to join a SB Member-exclusive sustainability tour of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC) during a SB Member Meeting hosted by Alaska Airlines in Seattle, WA. This behind-the-scenes look at SEATAC’s waste-reduction initiatives revealed that pallet storage was actually a pain point in reaching SEATAC’s sustainability goals. The airport needed a long-term solution that would address its waste goals while also freeing up valuable space for additional, operational needs. Raffa knew that SEATAC was not one of its brand participants, primarily due to the FAA security clearance requirements. He also knew that by identifying the right relationships, they would find a perfect match for a win-win solution. Through the SB Member Network, relationships were quickly developed within CHEP’s and SEATAC’s shared supply network resulting in mutually beneficial programmatic changes that went into effect just one week later.

“One conversation at the Sustainable Brands Member Meeting illuminated the opportunity for quick collaboration toward shared sustainability goals. CHEP's partnership with SEATAC has taken off and we've collected 1,000 pallets that have been returned to the CHEP pool, allowing us to keep the supply network moving for everyone.” — Dennis Raffa

Planet-positive results to date

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1,000 pallets recovered in the first four months of SEATAC partnership, saving:

  • 15,656 pounds CO2e, equivalent to that absorbed by 9 acres of forests
  • 99 million BTUs of fossil fuel consumed, equivalent to 17 barrels of oil
  • 271 board feet of wood consumed, equivalent to 1 mature tree
  • 1,544 pounds of waste, equivalent to waste from 1 average US citizen

Understanding and overcoming the hurdles CHEP had been facing with airport partners has allowed the company to apply the same roadmap toward its future growth. Five months after launching with SEATAC, CHEP began working with Denver International Airport and is in conversations with other airports and port authorities in the US. As the relationships begin to form, CHEP is able to work directly with the sustainability teams involved in the program to provide data on the carbon emissions, waste and lumber saved through the partnership — highlighting the power of collaboration to enable both parties to achieve their individual sustainability goals.

Collaborative relationships enabled CHEP to:

  • Establish a new approach to enlisting participation across airports
  • Address cross-industry supply chain issues through a holistic lens
  • Engage sustainability teams on CHEP’s environmental impact
  • Deliver planet- and business-positive results by returning more pallets into circulation

Join a community of changemakers and unlock actionable insights to drive good growth

The SB Member Network is a community of brands and solution providers who are pursuing good growth through purpose-driven innovation, business transformation and brand-led culture change. It's a safe and productive space where brand and sustainability professionals come together to assess their journey, share obstacles and insights for overcoming them, forge new relationships, benefit from premium research, and co-create solutions that drive progress for all. Discover more about this collaborative, pre-competitive and cross-sector community by joining your peers and partners at SB’s upcoming Member Meeting in New York City on December 7th. To learn more about becoming a Member of Sustainable Brands, or to join the upcoming Member Meeting as a guest, please contact us for more information.