Guide to Source Reduction for Warehouses and Distribution Centers

Guide to Source Reduction for Warehouses and Distribution Centers

By AAA Polymer | Can Liners

Mar 03

No matter your industry, source reduction is probably a buzzword you're already tired of hearing. However, it's not going anywhere. Source reduction, also known as waste prevention, is the process of eliminating waste before it starts. This strategic process involves the design, manufacture, purchase or use of products and materials that work to reduce the amount of toxicity of what's thrown away. 

In short, source reduction means stopping waste before it ever happens. And when you get it right, source reduction can go a long way in reducing your costs associated with the disposal of waste. Let's take a closer look at source reduction and simple steps warehouses and distribution centers can take to move closer to your sustainability goals. 

Right Size Whatever You Can

When it comes to source reduction, the adage of "bigger is better" doesn't hold water. To effectively attain source reduction, it's critical to take the right-sized approach wherever applicable. And one area where it makes dollars and sense to take the right-size approach for your can liners. Failure to do so can result in spills, the creation of unnecessary hazards, and wasted money. 

How do you know if your trash can liners are working against your source reduction efforts? One simple trick is to walk through your facility and look for Ugly Bag Hangover. While noticeable bag overhang may not appear to have a big impact on your bottom line, it can. Based on most research, facilities are utilizing a stunning 30% more trash bag than they actually need. 

However, the solution is simple: purchase the right size trash bag for each receptacle. In addition to reducing waste for your facility, you're likely to create immense savings by choosing the right size can liner. And the team at AAA Polymer can help with our free trash bag audit

Pre-Stretch Wrap Is the Way to Save

For warehouses and distribution centers, stretch wrap is one of the largest sources of waste. Even so, this material is critical to securing pallets and protecting products. This leads to questions like "How much stretch film is enough" and "Are my employees using the right amount of stretch wrap?" 

One way to achieve source reduction with stretch film is to invest in a stretch wrapping machine. Consider this, a customer wrapping 50 loads a day can waste an estimated $35,000 in film over a five year period if the facility isn't using a machine with pre-stretch film

Most of today's modern stretch film machinery will pre-stretch film between 150% up to 300%, which is ideal for economy and effectiveness. For perspective, if your machine pre-stretches at 150%, it can morph a 6,000-foot film into 9,000. 

Selectively Purchase Materials

Another way to achieve source reduction is to strategically purchase materials that are reusable, durable, and repairable. Undoubtedly, the top tip for selectively purchasing materials with a focus on source reduction is to avoid buying single-use products and look to purchase in bulk. 

Whenever you purchase an item, do so with a focus on the toxicity and solid waste that would be created by it. If possible, select the less toxic option. You can also strategically work to think about the disposal of a product before the purchase. 

Achieve Source Reduction with Equipment Improvements

For warehouses and distribution centers, some of the waste created isn't generated from purchases, but from the type of equipment you use. Even if you strategically purchase materials with source reduction in mind, it's impossible to have the desired results if your equipment is inefficient and generates two times as much waste as necessary.

Once you recognize a machine is inefficiently generating waste, you should begin the process of assessing the feasibility of new equipment. In your analysis, make sure to focus on the savings a new machine would provide you in the long run. 

After you have determined your ROI, you can decide whether it would make the most sense to retire a piece of equipment early or design it for minimal waste generation. In most instances, the solution that is best for the company is most beneficial to source reduction efforts as well. 

Always Measure Your Source Reduction Progress

Measuring your organizational source reduction and the impact is a necessity. Without effectively analyzing where your waste streams can be reduced, it's impossible to know what tactics and actions would be key to the success of your business. Only after you have measured your waste streams, tracked the source, and determined the best source of ROI should you implement a program. 

Contact AAA Polymer for Help Achieving Source Reduction

Source reduction is among the highest goals in the hierarchy of solid waste management. And if you're looking to create less waste or minimize your organization's environmental impact, the team at AAA Polymer can help. We offer a full suite of services and solutions designed to save your firm money and reduce your carbon footprint, including:

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help move your organization closer to its source reduction goals. 

About the Author

AAA Polymer, Inc. was founded in 1974, as a plastic resin and material trading company with an innovative vision to create a company to provide plastic recycling services for industrial/commercial businesses. If you have any questions, we're here for you. Just call us at 718.389.2498.

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