World Environment Day Special – Pioneering Sustainability in the Supply Chain Industry

Dear Patrons,

June 5th every year marks the World Environment Day and ‘celebrating’ this day we, as humanity, not only appreciate our environment – the planet that we live on – but also intensify our efforts towards its rescue mission. The supply chain industry is one of the top contributors to carbon and GHG emissions, we but have been on the learning curve to reverse the effects that supply chain activities have caused over the years. This article is an attempt to celebrate the planet that we live on, yet help readers become more conscious of our actions and their consequences as an industry.

Let’s imagine planet Earth as a small yet populous city called Greenville. In this bustling city of Greenville, the hum of commerce gave a hint of its thriving economy. As the city grew, the level of industrialization grew and so did its environmental challenges. As a result, the residents of Greenville faced increasing air pollution, rising waste levels, and diminishing green spaces. Amidst this backdrop, a visionary leader named Captain SC took the helm of AMI Freight – a local supply chain company.

Captain SC was deeply committed to environmental sustainability. He believed that the logistics and supply chain industry, which was vital to Greenville’s economy, could also be the key to its environmental revival. He was truly inspired by the principles of sustainability and embarked on a mission to transform AMI Freight into an example of green innovation.

Taking the first step to this humongous task, he integrated renewable energy into the company’s operations and had solar panels installed across its warehouses and distribution centers. As a result, AMI’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources decreased significantly. This was a double win for Captain because it not only cut down on energy costs but also reduced the company’s carbon footprint.

Due to the degrading environmental quality of Greenville, the city was slowly turning into a kiln in summer. But Captain had the warehouses redesigned to include green roofs, which helped regulate temperature and reduce stormwater runoff.

The Captain also recognized the importance of clean transportation. He invested in a fleet of electric and CNG-powered vehicles, which replaced the older, polluting diesel trucks. This move drastically cut down emissions and improved the air quality in Greenville. AMI Freight also established a multimodal transportation system, optimizing the use of rail, road, and waterways to minimize environmental impact.

But the Captain’s mission didn’t stop here – he introduced a comprehensive recycling and waste management program within the company. All packaging materials were redesigned to be biodegradable or recyclable. He ensured that his employees were trained on sustainable practices, fostering a culture of environmental responsibility. The Captain’s efforts extended to his supply chain partners, encouraging them to adopt similar green practices.

The initiatives that Captain SC took, and their resultant transformation had a ripple effect throughout the city. Other businesses were inspired to adopt sustainable practices, leading to a collective effort to make Greenville greener and better for the coming generations.

Coming back to the real world, an effort taken by a handful of businesses engaged in the supply chain industry would have become a symbol of hope and change for others globally – demonstrating that economic growth and environmental sustainability could go hand in hand. Years later, the collective vision of supply chain leaders has time and again proved that with innovation, commitment, and collaboration, we are near the possibility of creating a supply chain that not only powers the economy but also preserves the planet.

As the logistics and supply chain industry plays a critical role in global commerce, adopting environmentally friendly practices within this sector is vital to reducing the industry’s overall carbon footprint and promoting sustainable growth.

For instance, the Transport Corporation of India Limited (TCI), on this Environment Day, reaffirms its commitment to sustainable logistics, reflecting the company’s dedication to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. Mr. Vineet Agarwal, Managing Director of TCI, emphasized the company’s achievements and ongoing efforts in this realm.

“With approximately 30% of our consolidated revenues coming from multimodal logistics, we’re proud to be an ESG-compliant logistics partner for all our customers. In the last financial year, TCI generated 17 million kWh of renewable energy and completed 50,000+ B2B last-mile trips through 3,500+ CNG vehicles. Additionally, we provide green warehousing solutions integrated with eco-friendly practices to reduce power consumption, electricity costs, carbon footprint, and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Vineet Agarwal (MD, Transport Corporation of India)

TCI also runs a Supply Chain Sustainability Lab in collaboration with IIM-Bengaluru – a project that achieved significant milestones.

As evident from everything mentioned above, in recent years, there has been a paradigm shift towards integrating sustainability into supply chain management. One of the most impactful changes is the integration of renewable energy sources into supply chain operations. Along with this, companies are investing in electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as alternative fuels. Multimodal transportation systems are being optimized and increasingly adopted to reduce the carbon footprint of logistics activities.

Moreover, businesses are redesigning packaging materials to be biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable. Innovations such as lightweight packaging and bulk shipments are being implemented to minimize waste and reduce transportation emissions.

And more importantly, implementing comprehensive waste management systems within the supply chain has turned out to become essential to the cause of protecting our environment. This includes recycling programs, waste reduction initiatives, and the responsible disposal of hazardous materials. Companies are also encouraging their partners and suppliers to adopt similar practices, fostering a culture of sustainability throughout the supply chain network.

To take another example, Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR Airport) has taken a significant step today with the introduction of a new fleet of EV Airport Taxis, in collaboration with Refex eVeelz. The new EV fleet comprises 175 compact SUVs, marking a significant shift from traditional fuel-based taxis. With over 50 percent of the fleet being electric, BLR Airport aims to drastically reduce carbon emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment benefiting both the immediate surroundings of the airport and beyond.

At BIAL, our commitment to sustainability drives us to consistently implement initiatives that benefits the environment. The introduction of our EV taxi fleet and the tree planting driveare significant strides towards reducing our carbon footprint and enhancing the green spaces within our airport. With a strong focus on providing sustainable ecological solutions, these initiatives positively contribute to the ecosystem and improve the overall experience for our passengers and benefits the local community.

Hari Marar (MD & CEO, Bangalore International Airport Ltd.)

However, while significant progress has been made, with businesses and governments recognizing electric vehicles as the future, more awareness is needed to ensure wider consumer adoption. Industry leaders, stakeholders and the government must collaborate to raise awareness, dispel myths, and showcase electric mobility’s economic and environmental benefits. We must move past debates and embrace this inevitable shift wholeheartedly.

Global warming is real and it is here. Many Indian cities are already facing the brunt. This is no longer a risk, it is an issue that demands the urgent need for collective efforts to mitigate its impact. Our planet’s well-being and future depend on our ability to switch to sustainable and eco-friendly solutions – electric vehicles being one of them.

Maxson Lewis (Founder & CEO, Magenta Mobility)

On this World Environment Day, Magenta Mobility reaffirmed its commitment to decarbonizing logistics through our safe, smart, and sustainable mobility solutions. As of today, its fleet of 2,000+ vehicles has traveled 16 million clean kilometers across 17 cities and managed to keep 430 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of our air. They aim to deploy 10,000 electric vehicles by September 2025, significantly amplifying their environmental impact.

The logistics and supply chain industry stands at a critical juncture where every decision can either contribute to or combat the climate crisis. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing among industry players, governments, and communities are pivotal in scaling these efforts globally. As organizations pave the way with innovative solutions and green commitments, they inspire a collective movement toward environmental stewardship.

On this World Environment Day, we are reminded that our planet’s health hinges on our choices and actions. The story of Greenville and Captain SC serves as a microcosm of what is possible when visionary leadership meets unwavering commitment to sustainability. It is a call to action for all stakeholders in the logistics and supply chain industry to embrace sustainability not as an option but as an imperative.

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