How to achieve carbon neutral warehousing and storage

From: Crown Commercial Service
Published: Mon Apr 03 2023

More efficient warehouse management systems can help reduce carbon emissions. In this blog, we discuss 5 ways the public sector can achieve carbon-neutral warehousing and storage.

Even though the UK is at the forefront of the fight against climate change, decarbonisation needs to happen faster. Short-term and long-term storage, a common requirement for the public sector, are opportunities where introducing more sustainable solutions can reduce carbon emissions in the logistics sector.

In a previous article, I explained how the public sector, logistics industry, and providers can work together to cut transport-related carbon emissions. In this article, I narrow the focus to look more closely at the warehousing and storage aspect of the logistics industry.

More efficient warehouse management systems can help shrink carbon emissions by reducing space waste, enabling more sustainable materials distribution, and minimising heating and cooling costs.

Here are 5 innovative ways of reducing carbon emissions after the freight you've shipped is stored:

1. Seek out opportunities to switch oil-based plastics for biodegradable and non-fossil-fuel-derivatives

Conventional plastic used in traditional packaging is commonly produced from oil-based fossil fuel derivatives. However, new plant-based alternatives to traditional oil-based plastic consumables are gaining traction in the logistics industry.

Made from plant-based sources rather than traditional fossil fuel-derived plastic, they are often designed to be biodegradable or 100% recyclable. Instead of releasing fossil carbon into the air, these consumables remove present-day carbon from the environment, representing a carbon-neutral alternative. Plant-based polyethene mailbags and pallet wrap produced from sugar cane are examples of alternative products in use today.

2. Switch to greener stacking and packing

The traditional wooden pallet has been largely unchanged for decades, but even this industry mainstay has a more sustainable alternative. Sustainable options include reclaimed and reformed wood pallets with load capabilities equal to their traditional counterparts. Protective packaging is also available in greener alternatives produced from starch, reformed wooden furniture, and recycled paper.

3. Build sustainable design into storage facilities

It's no secret that warehousing real estate is currently in high demand with new facilities being erected along many motorways around the country. In many cases, developers are giving greater consideration to the green credentials of the new premises. For example, new builds include design elements such as improved insulation, solar and wind power-generation facilities, and heat pumps and charging stations that are eco-friendly and more cost-efficient. Older facilities can also be retrofitted with greener heating, cooling, and lighting components.

Energy-efficient LED warehouse lighting is used in new builds and retrofitted in older structures. Linking LED lighting with motion sensors helps reduce energy consumption even further, ensuring that lighting is only ever used where needed.

4. Plug-in to greener energy

Efficiencies can be gained in cost and carbon emissions by powering lighting and temperature-controlled environments using alternative sources to fossil-fuelled gas or oil.

Choosing a green electricity supply, either from your power supplier or opting for onsite generation, reduces emissions and enables large sites to generate energy to use or put back into the National Grid network. Warehousing facilities cover extensive square footage; in newer facilities, reinforced rooftops allow solar panel power generation systems to be installed.

On a simpler level, using air-conditioning systems as a source of temperature control can act as an alternative to gas or oil-fueled heating. In addition, where the power supply is generated by solar or wind power, this then provides a 100% environmentally sustainable heat source.

5. Using green power for site machinery

In previous articles, I've looked at the use of alternative fuels for transport logistics, but the same principles are also being applied in warehouses. Electric pallet trucks, stackers and forklifts are not new technology, and many warehouse operators are using e-vehicles onsite as opposed to diesel or LPG-fueled models.

Many thanks to Iron Mountain for supporting the content research for this blog.

We are here to support your decarbonisation journey

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) offers storage services through a variety of different framework agreements depending on customer requirements. In 2020, CCS launched its first-ever UK public sector Logistics and Warehousing framework agreement.

Twenty-five suppliers were awarded framework agreements to provide a wide range of transport and warehousing services across 8 lots that were written to reflect the different categories of market specialism and public sector needs. Storage and warehousing are also available through:

Like many in the industry, our suppliers are working hard to implement new technologies and innovations to support the UK Government's net zero pledge by reducing the impact of their warehousing activities. If you are interested in learning more about these approaches, contact the CCS framework category team to learn how to take advantage of new, greener packaging and storage spaces.

Company: Crown Commercial Service

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