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5 Ways To Reduce Supply Chain Waste And Embrace Sustainability

Embracing sustainability in your supply chain could be crucial to your company’s green strategy. Here are 5 ways to reduce waste in your supply chain.

Bradford Arick | December 8, 2022


The turbulence of the last few years has businesses big and small looking for ways to save money and meet sustainable goals. One area to be noticed is the supply chain for your business.

Embracing sustainability in your supply chain could be crucial to your company’s overall green strategy. According to the UN, an estimated 80% of global trade passes through supply chains. Your business can save money and reduce waste in the supply chain by cutting your carbon footprint, establishing upstream and downstream reporting, and ensuring waste management programs are optimized. These can also help boost your ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) score.

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here are 5 ways to reduce waste in your supply chain and make it more sustainable


1. Start at the end

Consider starting with the end in mind. In terms of waste management, we’re talking about the material sent to landfills or recycling centers. A big part of any supply chain audit should be to find ways to reduce or eliminate waste. Working backward, you can identify the volume of material sent to a landfill for example. Your business will be able to know where it was transported, how it was transported, the volume and makeup of the waste, where it was generated in the supply chain, and the processes involved that created the waste. All of this information then allows you to start finding solutions to minimize waste at every level.

Starting at the end and working backward can provide valuable insight into your supply chain.


2. Manage resources

Do you know which parts of your supply chain are generating the most waste? Examining your supply chain in depth can help your business determine which processes are responsible for the most waste. You can then start to rework programs, such as your product transportation, to reduce waste. If you want to start cutting greenhouse gas emissions in your supply chain, your business can start working with companies employing electric vehicles. Is your packaging not recyclable or reusable? Instead of sending it to the landfill, your business can find ways to change how your products are bundled using sustainable alternatives. 

Optimizing your resources throughout your supply chain can seem like a tall order at first. But once you realize the long-term impacts on your business, you’ll find you can likely save time and money.

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3. Select the right waste equipment

Having the right equipment for the needs of your business and those in your supply chain can go a long way to reducing wasted time and money. Conducting an audit of your supply chain will help you know the types of waste being created. Businesses can then explore how to deal with it throughout their supply chain. Maybe one supplier needs a trash compactor to help efficiency. Perhaps another needs to right-size its dumpsters and pick-up schedules to optimize operations. 

Selecting the right waste equipment for your supply chain can often save money, conserve resources, cut carbon emissions, and increase efficiency. 


4. Communicate with your suppliers

Supply chains that function at optimal levels involve partners with shared goals. When it comes to sustainability, establishing a shared vision from top to bottom can mean accountability at all levels. Global supply chains have the power to fight climate change and keep the ocean plastic free. Supply chain partners holding each other accountable to a shared Code of Conduct for example can ensure sustainability standards are met across the board.

Those at the top of the supply chain can help those at the bottom meet sustainability goals. Lower-tier suppliers can often struggle with high employee turnover or inadequate waste management programs. Bigger outfits helping the little ones can ensure an even playing field across the entire supply chain.


5. Establish upstream and downstream reporting

Want real, lasting value from your supply chain? Establishing upstream and downstream reporting allows your business to make decisions in a better, more informed manner. You’ll understand potential risks, discover areas where sustainability can be added, and be able to better meet the needs of your customers. Sticking to key reporting metrics will allow your company to monitor things like recycling and waste diversion programs throughout the supply chain. If you’re looking to cut carbon emissions, reporting will provide data that can show how it’s working. Maybe renewable energy is something your supply chain is focusing on. Where your power is coming from, how much your operations are using, and how solar arrays or wind turbines are performing can all be measured.

Establishing reporting and making that information public is a step towards transparency. Consumers believe businesses should have a greater hand in figuring out solutions to fight climate change. Being transparent with what your business is doing to help can go far in appealing to those customers.


Waste can be rather… wasteful, especially when it comes to your supply chain. To truly work toward reducing waste and managing it better, buyers, suppliers, distributors, and more have to communicate. There needs to be a shared vision of sustainability. There needs to be accurate reporting to know what’s working and where changes need to be made. And waste management operations need to be optimized across all levels of the supply chain.

At RoadRunner, we’re able to help your business be the best it can be. We can make sure you’re right-sizing your waste equipment. RoadRunner offers accurate, timely reporting for your waste operations. Our FleetHaul program is cutting carbon emissions while ensuring your recyclables get delivered on time. We work hard for our customers every step of the way and throughout every level of your supply chain. 


Find out how RoadRunner’s powerful green technology can work for your business today!



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