Published 4 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
/ This article is sponsored by
CHEP, a Brambles Company.
Wooden pallets may not be the most glamorous part of the global supply chain, but nothing gets moved around without them, and they are a huge opportunity for a circular economy.
The market leader in wooden pallets is a company called
CHEP, which has 300 million assets in over 55 countries. It’s become something of a quiet hero in the burgeoning circular economy.
Reusing wood pallets can significantly reduce logging, which cuts down on GHG emissions and saves money. All of CHEP’s assets are rented,
collected and reused; this saves a lot of virgin material, but the company also
knew more could be done.
In June, CHEP’s parent company, Brambles, launched
“Zero Waste World,” an initiative
that will increase circularity and efficiencies of CHEP and its customers. It
aims to decrease waste by increasing its range of reusable supply chain packaging
options (which CHEP President Laura Nador explored in a
keynote at SB’19
Detroit). The company
will collaborate with customers that are shipping products in opposite
directions to transport and reduce empty truck miles. By carefully
tracking its assets, CHEP and Brambles leverage their data to reduce inefficiencies.
We caught up with Jonathan North, Zero Waste World North America Program
Lead at Brambles, to learn more.
Jonathan North: The CHEP business model is inherently circular. Our
investment in high-quality, returnable assets (pallets, crates and containers)
is a direct contributor to the circular economy, where these assets are reused
and shared many times. We further prolong the life of these durable products
through rigorous inspection, repair and washing procedures, which reduces the
overall demand for raw material.
JN: We believe that environmental and economic benefits go hand in hand.
Typically, in our business model, more sustainable solutions cost the end user
less money, so we can satisfy our customers’ supply chain needs from an
environmental or an economic point of view. Having said that, it seems that the
pendulum is now shifting more towards the environmental argument, which the Zero
Waste World program strongly reinforces.
Image credit: CHEP
JN: We have access to a substantial amount of information about where and
how goods are shipped throughout North America. This supply chain data, in
combination with strong collaborations with our customers, helps us to identify
opportunities to optimize these flows. We can now specifically focus on reducing
waste, eradicating empty transport miles and cutting out other inefficiencies
that help reduce resource use.
JN: One major opportunity is to identify empty transport miles in the supply
chain. This is one of the focus areas in Zero Waste World. Industry statistics
indicate that there are as many as 50 billion empty truck miles driven each year
in the US, equivalent to 28 percent of the total distance they travel. That
represents a substantial opportunity for reducing a very important and relevant
JN: CHEP and JBS, a leading processor of meat and poultry, collaborated
to eliminate almost 900,000 empty truck miles from its supply chain; and in
doing so, also eliminated 3.3 million pounds of CO2 emissions. We are
continually looking to collaborate with our partners to identify similar
opportunities to increase the utilization of transportation
equipment, benefiting both the bottom line and the environment.
Published Sep 4, 2019 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.