Three years ago members of the International Warehouse Logistics Association embarked on a journey to increase sustainability in warehouse-based third-party logistics companies. IWLA’s first step to this end was the Sustainability Logistics Initiative (SLI). That program asked participants to track various usages and outputs in their own facilities – and then track improvements.Fast-forward to 2013: IWLA established a Sustainability Council to re-evaluate the SLI program and to see if there were other ideas for providing resources on achieving sustainability.
“When we evaluated the SLI program we realized that a big part of the picture was missing on best practices in achieving sustainability,” says council chairman Jeff Smith, president of Allied Logistics based in Huntington, W.Va.
The charter places more emphasis on the IWLA Sustainability Council as an educational forum for IWLA members with an interest in learning and sharing ways to improve sustainability in warehouse facilities, supply chain and transportation operations.
Beginning in 2014, the group will ask all IWLA members who join the council to sign the Sustainability Commitment Program. This working document captures policies and processes to help members achieve sustainability at their companies.
“We recognized that sustainability goes beyond investment. It requires a shift in cultural mentality, processes and policies that must be supported by C-level executives and filtered down to every employee,” Smith says.
The Sustainability Commitment Program gives IWLA Sustainability Council members a roadmap for budgeting/calculating investments, setting long-term planning, roles and responsibilities, tracking sustainability inventory, and building policies around a team-effort to reduce environmental impact.
The council is also working with other organization to create an online clearinghouse of sustainability resources. “There is so much information out there, we didn’t want to recreate the wheel,” Smith says.
One of IWLA’s partners is the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps, a summer fellowship program that assigns students to participating companies. These “fellows” identify, analyze and prioritize energy efficient investments in commercial settings. The EDF’s reference manual for Climate Corps fellows is one of the documents the IWLA council hopes to use by tailoring the information to address unique characteristics of the warehouse and transportation industries.
For 2014 the council plans to build a library of webinars, case studies, and lists of vendor products. The overarching aim remains sharing best practices among members through the IWLA Sustainability LinkedIn Group. An annual qualitative assessment outlining sustainability goals and documenting members’ accomplishments will drive recognition for council members and supply realistic examples of how others are achieving success in their companies.
Special thanks to the IWLA Sustainability Council Steering Committee Members: Board Liaison Connie Anderson; Chairman Jeffrey Smith, Sr.; Rebecca Polan; Ashton Shaw; Staff Liaison Morgan Zenner.
Be part of the discussion. Participate in the IWLA Sustainability Council meeting during the 2014 IWLA Convention & Expo in Phoenix, Ariz. You do not have to be a council member to attend this session. Early-bird registration ends Jan. 31, 2014.