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Need Net Zero? Four Sustainability Ideas for Your CPG Supply Chain


The Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) supply chain is growing, and there are concerns about the sustainability of this model. While some CPG supply chain models cause environmental concerns, automated fulfillment centers resolve many of the issues CPG critics are concerned about.

Reduction in Packaging Needs

In the legacy CPG supply chain, many warehouses operate on conveyer belt sortation systems. Because of this, goods must be packaged in cardboard boxes which are often much larger than needed. This is largely due to conveyer belt sortation systems damaging products as they go down the conveyor and need extra protection.

New and emerging automated picking and sortation systems are gentler on products, which eliminates the need for these cardboard boxes. Additionally, these automated solutions have a smaller footprint that takes up less space than the legacy conveyer belt systems. This can allow for strategic placement of systems closer to the end consumer, eliminating the need of cardboard boxes for deliveries.

When items are handled with more care and have less distance to travel during the final mile, cardboard packaging can be eliminated. Eliminating unnecessary packaging is possible with automated warehouse solutions, allowing for a more sustainable CPG supply chain.

Vehicle Emission Reduction

Transportation plays one of the biggest roles in enabling the CPG supply chain to be more sustainable. To begin, automated warehouse solutions with smaller footprints can be located closer to consumers, which means they are also closer to potential skilled labor employees. Because of this, biking, bus routes, and carpooling become viable options for employees commuting.

Additionally, when these smaller, more efficient warehouses are located closer to consumers, the distance traveled in the final mile is minimized, saving on fuel cost and emissions when deliveries are made. While some critics argue that the CPG supply chain is bad for the environment because of the emissions in the final mile, the reality is the opposite. Instead of 30 separate consumers driving individually to the brick-and-mortar store, one delivery vehicle can be sent out to deliver these 30 orders. This greatly reduces emissions, one of the supply chain's biggest concerns.

Storage Footprint Reduction

When automated solutions shrink the storage footprint of warehouses, they can save on the consumption of heating and cooling, lighting, and building infrastructure. These are all factors that play into major environmental concerns, and traditional warehouses consume these resources on a large scale. Automated provides a smaller footprint than legacy conveyer belt sortation, allowing warehouses to cut back on space, and in turn, consumption of these resources that can be detrimental for the environment.

Energy Costs

Legacy conveyer belt warehouse solutions take up a lot of space and energy, but automated solutions, like Attabotics, are much more energy efficient. Because the system is condensed and robots move in three dimensions, they travel a shorter distance when picking orders. This means less recharging and less energy consumption on each order. Additionally, when Attabotics robots move down the structure, their wheels turn backward, generating renewable energy that is then utilized by the bot.

While some may argue that the legacy CPG supply chain is not sustainable and it’s detrimental to the environment, the right warehouse automation solutions make for a more sustainable supply chain than traditional options. By saving on energy costs, storage space, transportation distances, and packaging needs, automated warehouses are helping to solve supply chain problems we have seen associated with new consumer demand.