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How A 3PL Can Help You Go Green


Reducing your carbon footprint and operating as green as possible is a goal which many businesses share today. Not only for the sake of the environment but also to provide ease of mind for environmentally conscientious customers. 

Owning and operating your own facility and vehicles is already a costly endeavour, upgrading or purchasing additional green vehicles and facility upgrades is often unachievable for many smaller operations. A similar analogy to why carpooling or taking transit is better for the environment than driving alone can be applied to this case as well. If a single company operates solely in their warehouse, they are using more energy for heating, lighting and cooling than operating in a shared space. 

In this blog, we have compiled reasons why working with a 3PL can reduce your carbon footprint, and make you and your customers feel better about your contribution to helping the planet.

Increased Efficiency

Increased efficiency throughout all stages of an order on its own is a great benefit of a 3PL. With increased efficiency comes reduced resources. Inside the warehouse, increased efficiency can look like organized bins or optimized picking routes. Electric forklifts can be operated in a more efficient manner with planned routes for each product, resulting in less wasted power from travel. Frozen product picking can also be optimized to allow workers to spend less time in the freezer which can result in fluctuating temperatures, which in turn use more energy to correct. 

Outside of the warehouse and possibly the most important example of how increased efficiency can reduce your carbon footprint is route optimization and load sharing. 3PLs will load multiple orders from different businesses which share the same or similar final destinations. This reduces the number of trucks which would otherwise be driving to the same destination. This alone can reduce the amount of fuel used on the deliveries and fumes expelled from the multiple vehicles doing the job of one.

Alongside a 3PLs ability to reduce vehicle traffic to one destination, many 3PLs employ intelligent technologies to improve delivery routes. By having their drivers run routes which cut down on time and fuel, emissions are also being reduced.

Greener Forms of Transport

Another benefit of partnering with a 3PL to reduce your carbon footprint is the many more forms of transportation available through them. While some 3PLs may have access to greener trucks, such as electric ones, this is not a widespread thing just yet. In the previous section, we discussed how optimized routes and load sharing can offset some carbon emissions, however, there are other forms of transport that are greener. 

When working with a 3PL, many of these greener forms of transport become more accessible to customers due to the connections and knowledge of a 3PL. For example, where an independent company may need to hire or transport their own products across two provinces via truck, with the support of a 3PL they would be more likely to have access to railway freight to make the bulk of the journey, cutting costs and emissions. 

Compared to trucks, freight railroads are 3 to 4 times more efficient on average, according to the Association of American Railroads. 

As well, according to Canadian National Rail (CN Rail), of the three main forms of transportation, rail and sea are the greenest alternatives. 

Freight Truck: 81.14 g CO2e/tonne-km 
Rail Freight: 12.97 g CO2e/tonne-km
Freight Ship: ​​12.74 g CO2e/tonne-km

A 3PL can make these more unattainable forms of transport, much more attainable through connections and partnerships than a company working without a 3PL. Alongside this attainability, comes greener opportunities to move your products.

Packaging, Waste Reduction, and Carbon Offsetting

3PLs that provide their own packaging options are also more likely to offer sustainable packaging options than a generic shipping company. This can be recyclable or even compostable bags, packing components, boxes, and more. 

As well as greener packaging, due to the volume of clients they may work with within their facilities, they may have stricter recycling programs and other waste reduction initiatives. Both packaging and recycling initiatives can help to reduce the environmental impact of the supply chain.

Another in-house initiative is carbon offsetting. While not every 3PL provider will offer this, there are some 3PLs who offer carbon offsetting programs. These can help to offset the carbon emissions associated with transportation and logistics. Sometimes these are donation matches or even tree-planting initiatives.

Looking for a 3PL Provider?

Contact us today to learn more about Birkby’s comprehensive 3PL solutions.

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