Reducing waste with your supply chain

Introduction

If you are looking at strategies for reducing waste within your business, one route could be to take a look at your supply chain. It is common for extra waste to be generated within this, and therefore this article aims to help you figure out what steps you can take to cut it down.

Determine what you actually need

The first step in your supply chain strategy for cutting down on waste is for you to have an in-depth understanding of what products and materials your business actually needs. Start by monitoring an average month in your business.

Keep a record of: all the materials you order; how much you are bringing in; how much of that you actually use; how much you sell; and what gets thrown away or put back into storage at the end of each week. That will give you a good baseline for what is actually coming in and out of your business each month to help you manage your supplies more efficiently.

Think about your storage

When reducing waste, it is also important to think about how you store materials. If you order lots of resources all at once, you are probably saving money in the long run – but only if those material actually get used. If you are buying in bulk with the intention to store rather than because you need that volume to operate, you could actually be wasting your money.

Certain products have a use-by date attached to them that you need to adhere to. This ensures that you give your customers a quality product or service, and that it complies with regulations. If you have bought in bulk, it increases your chances of missing that deadline and wasting the item.

Even if there isn’t a use-by date, leaving materials in storage for extended periods can also lessen their quality, whether that be damp, dust or unforeseen damage. If you are bringing materials in thinking they will get used at an unspecified date in the future, you might want to rethink this strategy in order to reduce wastage, which is both costly and bad for the environment.

Consider your suppliers

If your business is using suppliers from across the UK or overseas, you might be limited in your delivery options and have to buy in bulk to make the shipping worthwhile. However, if you are able to source these items locally, you may be given a little more flexibility.

Local suppliers often have the ability to deliver smaller orders more frequently. This means that you will be able to place them depending on your demand, rather than based on your estimations of production and sales. Taking the time to research suppliers who can deliver based on your demand rather than a minimum order or set delivery schedules, is a great way to ensure that you are not spending needlessly or throwing away excess materials.

Summary

Being familiar with your supply chain strategy is an important factor to reducing the amount of waste created within it. Build good relationships with your suppliers and have materials delivered to meet your demand rather than buying in bulk. This ensures that you don’t have to store the surplus and run the risk of it going to waste.

Read our 6 ways to make your business more sustainable for more tips on how you can benefit from incorporating environmentally-friendly working practices into your business