In this day and age, sustainability and ‘going green’ is, very much, a hot topic and calls for switching to environmentally-friendly practices doesn’t stop in the warehouse. With climate change issues becoming more regular, being eco-friendly has become more of necessity as opposed to a concept.
With that in mind, it’s paramount that warehouse owners take the steps required to lower their carbon footprints. Where it’s not feasible for a warehouse to become net-zero, there are things that every warehouse manager can implement in a bid to be more sustainable overall and we have some simple-yet-effective methods for becoming an environmentally-friendly warehouse, which is also now a selling point for customers.
Look to natural lighting or invest in eco-friendly alternatives
Most warehouses rely solely on artificial lighting, but with many distribution centres being relatively old, their initial design didn’t allow for the installation of additional windows, doors and skylights in a bid to let in as much natural light as possible.
If your centre is lacking in windows, then invest in a number of new ones and place them strategically around the warehouse. Not only will extra windows flood your premises with light, but it’ll simultaneously reduce your energy bills whilst increasing efficiency.
Alternatively, if you’re on a budget, look to replace your old lightbulbs and light fittings with eco-friendly ones. LED bulbs are brighter than incandescent and fluorescent ones whilst using 80% less energy. Just like natural lighting, this will help to keep your utility bills as low as possible whilst also shrinking your carbon footprint.
As well as being just as effective as older, cheaper lightbulbs, LEDs will last far longer, thus reducing your waste output. If you have a particularly large budget, then consider renewable energy options such as solar and wind power.
Go paperless where possible
Going paper-free is one of the quickest and easiest ways of reducing your carbon footprint. When providing customers with invoices, you should opt for digital alternatives and email copies of receipts and invoices to clients instead of printing them off and sending them in the post.
As well as it being an eco-friendly option that’s easy to undertake, a computerised system is far easier to use and is exceptionally efficient in comparison to the physical handing out of paperwork. Not only will it be easier in terms of record-keeping, but it’ll also allow for the quick correction of mistakes, if any have been made.
You should also look into the use of scanners and smart devices as they will allow for the instant uploading of customer data where applicable. Analyse your current processes and look for possible digital alternatives in a bid to go as paperless as possible.
Make an effort to considerably reduce the waste you generate
Reducing waste and streamlining processes is a short and effective way of reducing your carbon footprint. Although, when it comes to waste reduction, it isn’t just referring to items that you can toss away, it also comes down to lost time, lack of movement and a reduction in space.
It could even come down to a warehouse manager ordering too many resources for one project and therefore having to throw excess materials away. You should analyse your current procedures in a bid to streamline the way you deal with waste, no matter what it is.
Reducing water waste
Many warehouse owners aren’t aware of exactly how much water they use and waste every day, but regardless of that, there are some low-cost changes you can make in order to be more eco-friendly when it comes to water usage throughout your premises. You could start with modern toilet systems that only store and use a limited amount of water for each flush. Look into other low-flow fixtures such as taps and aerators for flush valves.
It would also be worth collecting grey water for use when flushing toilets, irrigating and more. Grey water is usually tap water remnants found in washing machines, baths, showers, dishwashers and sinks. Although it’s not sanitary, grey water isn’t toxic or harmful to humans, wildlife or the environment and so it can be safely reused in a number of applications, as long as it’s not for consumption.
As well as collecting grey water, you could install a system that’ll collect rain water and this could be as simple as leaving a tank underneath roof guttering, for example. You could use this water for a number of different things in and around your warehouse, depending on the industry you work in.
Pipe and water tank insulation is also more economical and a more cost-effective solution than replacing them entirely. When these things aren’t insulated properly, then your workers will wait longer for the water to run hot, which means an unnecessary waste of water in the meantime. Immediate access to hot or warm water is paramount when it comes to lowering your carbon footprint and this can work in the home as well as in the warehouse.
Reuse and recycle
Simply put, you should completely avoid using single-use plastics when it comes to packaging your products and pallets. There are several paper or cardboard alternatives that are more easily recycled and biodegradable, which is far better for the environment. Warehouses might also be able to benefit financially by collecting and recycling plastic waste responsibly, where you have no choice but to use it.
You should also look to encourage your workers to recycle even the smallest items, whether it be sandwich packaging and paper cups after lunch or cardboard pallet wraps for even the heaviest of goods, your employees should be made aware of how important it is that their carbon footprint sees a significant reduction.
Improve insulation around your warehouse
Warehouses can get extremely hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. In a bid to feel more comfortable in those conditions, warehouse owners will then start to install air conditioners and electric heaters which aren’t cost-effective or environmentally-friendly. If you insulate your warehouse effectively, not only will you be able to dodge the initial cost of air-con and heating systems, but you’ll even see a reduction in your energy bills.
Sheep’s wool is a natural insulation material that’s also renewable and that’s because, when you compress wool, millions of small air pockets are created which will then help to keep your warehouse cool in the summer and warm in the winter, meaning you won’t have to rely on your AC units or electric heaters so much, thus saving the planet and your bank account.
Hire Forklifts are pleased to be able to provide our customers with high-calibre warehouse equipment, including diesel, LPG and electric forklift hire, to name a few. All of our short and long-term contracts are transparent, reliable and flexible, so you’ll be able to tailor it specifically to your individual needs. Regardless of the industry you work in or the budget you have, the professionals here at Hire Forklifts will always be on hand to help – for more information, get in touch with a member of our specialist team today.