Edition 85
From Linear to Circular: Changing the World One Supply Chain at a Time
by Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, Director of Sustainability, Brambles North America

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Preserving our natural resources or generating economic growth is not an either-or proposition. Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, framed the issue well when he said, “Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.”

That is important because the global population, currently 7.5 billion, is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. That fact, along with a recognition in recent decades that the earth’s resources are finite, have propelled companies, individuals, governments and organizations to develop and implement sustainable solutions that preserve resources and drive efficiencies and economic growth at the same time.

Household and private sector recycling, which took significant root in the 1970’s, provided a critically important start to the global conservation effort. Today, imagination, experimentation and new technology are being used to develop environmentally-sustainable systems that achieve both conservation and economic goals.

For instance, think tanks, multi-lateral organizations, foundations, corporations and governments are adopting a circular economy approach to sustainability. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a leading circular economy proponent, “…the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design… it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimizing negative impacts… underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds natural and economic capital.” As such, the practical vision of a circular economy is a global economy that produces zero waste and zero carbon emissions.

At CHEP, we are committed to preserving and protecting our natural resources for future generations. We have embraced the vision of a circular economy fueled by a circular supply chain, and inherently understand the opportunities it presents. In fact, a recent study by McKinsey & Company showed 90% of current and future sustainability gains for consumer goods manufacturing companies reside in their product supply chains.

While that is a headline grabber, it really isn’t new news to CHEP. We have worked inside thousands of supply chains and have been collaborating with our customers on sustainable supply chain solutions for decades. What we have learned along the way is that ideas and value chain collaboration are vitally important.

Earlier this year, CHEP participated in a powerful thought leadership session, Connecting the Dots: Sustainability Through a Circular Economy, at the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL). CHEP teamed up with IGEL, PepsiCo, Meijer, Amcor and Nielsen to discuss how supply chain collaboration and innovation are helping to create a circular economy that will move us more towards zero waste and zero emissions.

Circular principals mesh nicely with CHEP’s vision because our business is inherently sustainable since it is based on a “pooling” model that uses shared and reusable assets. We move consumer goods throughout the world on more than 300 million pallets, containers and crates that are used over-and-over again by our customers. We enable our customers to share and reuse resources that make them more efficient and more sustainable at the same time.

Moving from vision to reality, CHEP is working with retailers, manufacturers and growers to create more efficient and sustainable supply chains. For instance, CHEP recently partnered with Walmart Canada to develop a unique reverse logistics solution that helped the company solve an unexpected solid waste problem.

When gardeners crowded into Walmart Canada’s 400 locations, they left a costly environmental issue behind – empty wooden racks where the plants were displayed. To address the challenge, CHEP developed an innovative reverse logistics and waste diversion solution to use the retailer’s trucks to transport the excess racks to a recycling facility. The solution resulted in the removal of more than 2,000 tonnes of wooden waste, improved the health and safety of store associates and reduced waste disposal costs. The recycler is turning the wood into chips and sawdust, sold as bedding for farm animals.

On the grower front, CHEP collaborated with Wholesum Harvest, one of North America’s fastest growing providers of organic fruits and vegetables, to help make the grower more efficient while achieving its sustainability goals.

Wholesum converted to CHEP shared and reusable pallets for handling, warehousing and transporting their produce, generating efficiency and environmental benefits across their supply chain. To further reduce Wholesum’s environmental footprint, CHEP helped the company utilize carbon offset credits to help provide 30,000 Mexican families with efficient, safe and sustainable wood burning stoves for daily cooking.

These are just two examples that show how CHEP, partnering with its customers, is developing sustainable solutions that preserve natural resources, empower growth and help make the world a better place at the same time.

Over the past two years, our Supply Chain Solutions have helped deliver more than $60 million in customer value, including savings and new revenue. During that time, customers also made their supply chain operations more environmentally sustainable by eliminating more than 4.3 million empty truck miles, resulting in a reduction of 16.2 million pounds (~7,348 tonnes) of CO2 from their transportation networks.

In addition, CHEP customers achieve outstanding sustainability benefits each year by sharing and reusing our platforms:

• 1.6 million trees remain on the planet.
• 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 never enter the atmosphere, the equivalent of removing more than 500,000 passenger vehicles from US roads or the energy needed to operate more than 250,000 US homes.
• 4,300 fewer tonnes of food are damaged during transport.
• 1.4 million tonnes of waste never make it to landfill.
• Reduced customers’ empty transport lanes by nearly 3 million miles.

From our work with Walmart Canada and Wholesum Harvest, to Kroger and The J.M. Smuckers Company, CHEP is bringing the vision of a circular supply chain to life for the fast-moving consumer goods sector. In addition, our own operations are becoming more sustainable every day, as part of our Better Business, Better Communities, Better Planet commitment. The core goals are zero deforestation, zero waste and zero emissions by 2020. The Company’s 2020 Sustainability Goals focus on the most material aspects of our operations and are closely aligned both with the aspirations of our customers and with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

At CHEP, we believe sustainability and economic growth go hand in hand, and we are using our knowledge and expertise to bring the vision of a circular economy to life. But our commitment goes well beyond data, charts and metrics. Out ultimate vision is to help make the world a better place, so that our children and grandchildren can live safe, productive and bountiful lives.
Suzanne Lindsay-Walker is the Director of Sustainability for Brambles, Ltd. She engages with external customers and internal cross-business regional teams to develop and implement the Sustainability strategy and vision across the North America region. Suzanne works to successfully incorporate Sustainability as part of our value proposition to customers, determine the strategies to reach 2020 Global Sustainability goals across the region and develop the tools to further demonstrate the environmental advantages of CHEP’s share and reuse model.

Suzanne brings a wealth of experience to Brambles, having spent a total of 10+ years driving sustainability into the retail and consumer goods industry. Mostly recently, Suzanne spent 5 years at The Kroger Co. as Director of Sustainability, having successfully built and launched Kroger’s 2020 Sustainability Goals, one being the strategic Zero Waste program. She was also responsible for communicating and engaging with external stakeholders. During her time, Kroger was listed for the first time on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and has been for the fourth consecutive year. Suzanne was founding member and co-chair of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, former chairperson of the Food Marketing Institute’s Sustainability Executive Committee and an environmental steering committee member of the Consumer Goods Forum. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Lawrence Technological University.

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