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The focus on climate change – and the quest to reach net zero emissions within the next few decades – is increasingly on the agenda for businesses across all industries.
There is a greater pressure for larger companies to reduce their carbon footprint, and in turn for their supply chains to do the same. This is where the SCOPE 1, 2 and 3 requirements come in, with each element of the supply chain being subject to different restrictions, and some businesses falling under all three levels.
For many businesses, a significant portion of their carbon emissions falls under SCOPE 3, which includes indirect emissions from the entire value chain, such as transportation, supply chain, and product usage.
Among these, the supply chain is often a substantial contributor to SCOPE 3 emissions. To combat this, many companies are turning to warehouse automation as a powerful tool to not only optimise operations but also to significantly reduce their environmental impact.
Understanding SCOPE 3 Emissions
Before delving into the ways in which warehouse automation can help meet SCOPE 3 emissions requirements, it’s important to understand what is meant by the different SCOPE emission levels. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol classifies emissions into three scopes:
Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, such as emissions from company-owned vehicles and facilities.
Indirect emissions from purchased electricity, heat, or steam.
All other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain, including emissions from suppliers, transportation, product use, and disposal.
SCOPE 3 emissions often account for the largest portion of a company’s carbon footprint, making them a primary focus for sustainability initiatives. It will also become a key requirement for suppliers wanting to maintain contracts – all of their clients will need to show their supply chain is hitting targets, and they will need to take their business elsewhere if this isn’t happening.
For logistics providers, that means satisfying those companies for whom you’re acting as a distributor that your warehouses are cutting emissions. And part of that can be achieved through warehouse automation.
Warehouse Automation: A Key Solution
Efficient Inventory Management:
Warehouse automation systems, including stock management systems like inventAIRy XL, help reduce excess inventory and waste. This directly impacts SCOPE 3 emissions by decreasing emissions from suppliers (e.g., less material production and transportation) and mitigating emissions from the disposal of excess or obsolete inventory.
Modern automated warehouses are designed with energy efficiency in mind. The automated system we work with – unlike some of the original inventory control drones on the market – are capable of working in the dark. This means stock counts can be conducted at night when the warehouse is shut down, further reducing carbon emissions associated with electricity use (SCOPE 2).
Warehouse automation systems can improve order picking accuracy and order consolidation, resulting in fewer shipments and more efficient transportation routes. By reducing the number of shipments and miles traveled, companies can significantly cut SCOPE 3 emissions linked to transportation.
Automation can enable companies to optimise packaging processes, reducing material waste and the environmental impact associated with packaging production and disposal. Additionally, automation can help in designing eco-friendly packaging solutions.
Real-time Data for Decision-Making:
Automation systems provide real-time data and analytics, enabling companies to make informed decisions about resource allocation, route optimisation, and energy management. This data-driven approach helps companies minimise their carbon footprint throughout the supply chain.
Improved Staff Wellbeing:
While not directly related to carbon emissions, warehouse automation can enhance staff wellbeing, removing them from repetitive and often risky tasks – such as working at height – and freeing them up for more creative jobs that can boost the business’ bottom line.
In the era of heightened environmental consciousness, companies are increasingly aware of their responsibility to reduce SCOPE 3 emissions and drive sustainability across their value chains. Warehouse automation technologies offer a powerful means to achieve these objectives. By optimising inventory management, improving energy efficiency, streamlining transportation, and promoting sustainable practices, automation not only enhances operational efficiency but also contributes significantly to the reduction of carbon emissions.
As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to a changing world, warehouse automation will remain a cornerstone in their sustainability efforts, helping them meet SCOPE 3 emissions requirements while simultaneously driving innovation and competitiveness in the market.
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