Have eco-friendly businesses gone the ‘Gangnman Style’ way?

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September 18, 2013

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Can you recall the last time you heard the massively popular “Gangnam Style” on the radio? I doubt it. Human interest is fickle and trends tend to come and go. Such is the fate that seems to have befallen the once popular Green Movement.

Thankfully, while “eco-friendly” may no longer be the buzzword of the moment, the movement trudges on behind the scenes with several industries seeing a shift towards eco-consciousness.

In this, the logistics sector has not lagged behind. Green efforts begin from the packaging of products for delivery. In most cases, goods are shipped using excessive material which is cumbersome to dispose of in an environmentally-friendly way. While it is fairly simple for shipping companies to cut down on wasteful packaging, the main culprits remain the materials themselves.

Duct tape, Styrofoam packing peanuts and plastic bubble wrap used to package goods have a devastating effect on the environment when improperly disposed, as major quantities are each year.  Eco-conscious shipping companies have begun to embrace biodegradable variants of the same, which sometimes come with a higher price tag but work wonders on the conscience.

Countries or a people who suffer a genocide can achieve unfathomable things. They get to start from scratch and reinvent themselves. I’ll write of neighboring Rwanda which the world watched 18 years ago as inter ethnic killings brought the country to its knees.

Kigali airport greets you with a large sign “Use of non-biodegradable polythene bags is prohibited.” A certain chutzpah is needed to impose such a ban, especially in an African country. To the best of my knowledge, Bangladesh is the second country in the world to attempt such; her results being limited.

If an African country, projected to have a population of 13 million by 202,0 has managed to effectively impose such a ban, why can’t logistics giants do the same? A question that logistic companies – both great and small – should ask themselves and try hide their embarrassment for lack of an answer.

Warehousing has seen its share of eco-upgrades. With the advent of technology such as lights that rely on motion-detectors, to using solar power to fuel climate controlled chambers, it is increasingly easy to reduce on consumption of resources and waste production.

Concern for Mother Nature is also shown by reusing packing materials where possible or repurposing the material for a different use and carefully disposing of what cannot be reused or recycled.

The shipping of goods is another area being explored for green solutions in the logistics industry. Careful planning of shipping routes not only maximizes fuel use but also contributes to reducing pollution resulting from travel.

Less popular but equally important are the more drastic approaches to eco-friendly travel. One such approach is the use of “smart cars” that run on electricity or recycled oil, though these are yet to catch on especially in Africa, largely due to cost concerns. A more accessible alternative would be the use of more mainstream low sulphur diesel or bio diesel, which have less of a detrimental impact on the environment.

Customers can also play their part in making shipping more green by requesting delivery in areas within business districts, as opposed to residential areas, which are likely to be far from delivery points of origin in an effort to reduce travel distances and subsequent emissions.

Unlike absurdly catchy Korean hit singles and their accompanying dance moves, the movement to preserve our earth remains in vogue. Propelled by the resilient force of human teamwork it is certain that we will be able to leave the world just that much better for future generations. Now, don’t you feel bad about leaving that light on all night?


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