Volume 13, Issue 3 - May-June 2011

Supply Chain Dynamics
inside distribution

Environmental Responsibility
by Dino Lanno


Global warming, over-flowing landfills and soaring carbon dioxide emissions—the threat of environmental damage is on everyone’s minds, including business leaders’. While many companies have been seeking “greener” ways of working, only within recent years has it really become prominent in the auto glass supply chain.

Managing an environmentally sustainable business has a number of advantages beyond caring for the world in which we live. First, it improves public reputation. In fact, more than 88 percent of consumers think companies should try to achieve their business goals while improving society and the environment, according to research from Do Well Do Good, a nonprofit organization. The study also showed that 70 percent of consumers were willing to pay more for a product that supports a cause.

“Not only does working ‘green’ promote your company publicly,
it often can reduce long-term costs."

Working Green
Not only does working “green” promote your company publicly, it often can reduce long-term costs. When considering the many other variables in the supply chain industry where costs are climbing, it’s important to find ways to offset them. That’s why many in the industry have invested in environmentally conscious business practices.

There is enormous variety in auto glass and parts—each with their own packaging. The lack of standardization means fewer parts per package, which creates the need for more packaging. With every package comes a different label, using yet more paper and ink. And, because part number formats are not always consistent across suppliers, this also requires more re-labeling. Clearly, the denser the pack and the less labeling, the more the savings will be seen in the process.

This also impacts transportation. Transporting more product on a single tractor trailer reduces the need for additional trips, using diesel fuel and creating carbon emissions. For example, if we can increase the number of windshields on each tractor trailer by 100, the tenth load would ship for free.

Reducing packaging is the first step toward improvement, followed by reuse and recycling. To minimize waste going to a landfill, the cardboard is sent to recycling and the wooden pallets are broken down and chipped for mulch or used in a composting process. The nails in the pallets are captured during the chipping process and sold as a low-end recycled metal.

Steel pallets are a newer alternative currently being tested in the industry. With steel options, there will be one pallet that can expand or shrink for all sizes of glass and can be used repeatedly. The only costs will be the initial procurement and ongoing maintenance. Ways to recycle glass and the PVB layer also are being piloted.

Some manufacturers and distributors now are using returnable crates for shipping windshields. The crate is disassembled at the warehouse into the different components and returned to the distribution center to be reused. On average, we re-use a crate four to five times.

Reducing Waste Balances Costs
Most plants and warehouses are doing what they can to properly dispose of waste and recycle or reuse what they can—but that comes at a price. The cost of dumping and hauling is increasing. As you can imagine, it’s not free to take a dumpster full of trash to a landfill, especially for larger plants and warehouses. We are always looking for ways to repurpose, recycle, eliminate or reduce wastes. We do it because it’s the right thing to do for the environment. Processes to compact the trash as much as possible can help reduce the number of trips to and from the landfill.

Lastly, the basic ways offices operate can have a big impact, including recycling and re-using electronics, paper, plastic, aluminum and pens.

These are just examples of how the vehicle glass industry is becoming greener. What can you do better? What ideas can we develop as a team? As an industry, we must commit to the sustainability of the environment. Until some of these alternatives are more widely embraced, the alternatives may be costly, but they will help to ensure the future of the natural resources we are trying to protect.

Dino Lanno is senior vice president of supply chain and manufacturing for the Safelite Group in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Lanno’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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