On the fence about going green? Jack Ampuja can't see why anyone would still be dithering about it. Ampuja, president of the consulting firm Supply Chain Optimizers and director of the Center for Supply Chain Excellence at New York's Niagara University, said his work with shippers has convinced him that the economic benefits of environmental programs usually outweigh the costs. "My on-site observations and discussions with clients lead me to conclude that the companies that are leading the field in green are also the ones with the lowest costs and greatest efficiencies," he told attendees at last week's meeting of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) New England Roundtable.
Anyone who needs a reminder of the financial benefits need only consider the freight savings that result from less packaging, said Ampuja, who's something of an evangelist on the subject. He presented examples of million dollar savings among his own clients and cited Wal-Mart's now-famous toy packaging redesign, which cut annual import shipments by 700-plus ocean containers. Such savings are not limited to the largest companies, he said. "It's a lot of work to get this, but these kinds of opportunities are available to all companies if they work with suppliers on packaging and freight costs."
Though packaging reduction programs can have a big payoff, there are some things to keep in mind, warned Ampuja. For example, shippers still have to make sure their products are adequately protected during transit and that the new packaging complies with the National Motor Freight Classification's rules. Bringing logistics professionals into the packaging discussions can help in this regard, but companies don't always do that, Ampuja noted. "The typical company does not consider packaging's impact on supply chain management," he said. "But wouldn't you like your marketing people to know that if they pick a particular box, freight costs will go up by $1 million?"