Supply Chain Information: Warehousing

Sector Name: Warehousing

SIC Code: 48-49



Major Players:



Major Issues

The environmental issues surrounding warehousing and distribution centers initially revolve around the building materials used for their construction and renovation as well as the amount of land developed on and around the site. During facility operation, there is the energy used for lighting, heating, cooling, and forklift batteries. Lastly, there are the logistical operations of moving and storing the inventory, which affects operational efficiency and space optimization.


Key Requirements

Warehousing companies have to comply with buildings codes, equipment and employee logistics, labor issues, and employee health. This can include certifications for machine operators, internal training, qualifications to work with union labor and payroll contracts, and environmental and health compliance. Protocol for the proper handling of cargo is important to insure proper storage and to minimize damage to goods and people. Most companies have both policies for warehousing operation and supply chain engagement with shipping companies. The NAICS also has small business size standards for Transportation and Warehousing.


Key Certifications



Getting Started

  • Invest in Warehousing Management System (WMS) software, which optimizes movement and storage of inventory in a warehouse
  • Interlock stacking to increase the strength of boxes while allowing for compressed box sizes and decreasing material requirements
  • To decrease energy use, add a reflective roof or consider painting it white, which will reflect heat away from the building and keep it cooler in the summer.
  • Reuse pallets
  • Use cardboard balers to reduce the size of boxes, and recycle corrugated packaging
  • Use plastic air bags for internal packaging instead of foam peanuts
  • Include packaging and logistics experts with the product and marketing strategy development to ease shipping and delivery


Going Further

  • Use cross-docking between vehicles to directly transfer cargo from one transport vehicle to another, reducing the amount of warehousing needed for inventory
  • Eco-friendly labeling inks for packaging
  • Replace light bulbs with LED or fluorescent light bulbs, which are more energy efficient and effective.
  • Use radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking which will allow for faster, more efficient, and accurately traceable means of tracking inventory.
  • Install lighting motion detectors so that lights are only on when building or areas of the warehouse are occupied.
  • Install “light harvesting” sensors, which will detect the amount of light in a room and adjusts the brightness accordingly


Advanced Steps

  • Install solar panels or wind turbines for alternate and/or supplemental energy generation.
  • A relatively new technology is forklifts run with hydrogen fuel cells, which improves warehouse productivity, lowers operating costs, and reduces waste products.
  • A longer-term solution would be to relocate warehousing operations to multi-story, urban distribution centers, which cuts transportation costs and reduces operational impact of the facility on the environment.


Best Practices Leaders


Kenco Installed high intensity fluorescent technology with dimmer sensors at two of its logistics facilities to cut energy consumption by 70 percent.


DB Schenker

DB Schenker’s green initiatives focus on reducing the about of carbon dioxide emitted by truck and rail freight.  It has a few premiere programs, such as the Green Logistics Network Project and Green Road that offers clients the optimal way to efficiently ship and store goods, while either offsetting or reducing their carbon emissions.  DB Schenker also thoroughly assesses its own practices and suppliers to ensure optimal efficiency of its shipping and warehousing logistics.


DSC Logistics

Back in 2009, DSC Logistics launched a new Bill of Lading (BOL) system to reduce the amount of paper used in its ordering process.  The new system requires clients to determine their exact order, reducing the amount of paper needed for the shipment and warehousing details.  This system saves 644,000 pieces of paper each year.


EA Logistics

EA Logistics’ “Delivered GrEAn” program provides customers with carbon dioxide emission estimation and provides carbon offsets that go specifically to fund reforestation projects.  In addition to this premiere program, EA Logistics greens all aspects of its supply chain, from retrofitting its warehouse to using biodiesel in its trucking fleet.


GENCO Supply Chain Solutions

GENCO Supply Chain Solutions purchased 25 hydrogen fuel cell power units for use in its forklift trucks, supplying their forklifts with an abundant supply of renewable energy, saving on costs, reducing the demand for energy, and reducing its carbon footprint.


CHEP Equipment Pooling Systems

CHEP has received numerous sustainability awards for its efforts to reduce its customers and its own carbon footprint.  It specializes in reusable and recyclable pallet products and pooling services, diverting 125 million pounds of solid waste. 

Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing

Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing has made all of its forklift trucks cadmium and mercury free, and listed 26 hazardous chemicals that must be eliminated or reduced in materials to build its products from vendors and suppliers.



Key Resources

The Warehousing Education and Research Council offers educational events, performance metrics for benchmarking, research, expert advice, and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange

The International Warehouse Logistics Association provides legal and regulatory advice, business development and customer outreach, professional training and education, advocacy and legislative representation, sharing of best practices and networking, and discounts through group purchasing

EPA’s SmartWay has developed a set of tools to allow companies to better asses and calculate logistics costs.

Logistics World has a listed directory of logistics resources on the internet

The Warehousing Internet Resource Exchange is an online marketplace for users to post jobs and offer goods for sale for warehousing, distribution, and logistics.

The Distribution Group provides news and information to distribution professionals through publications, online Warehouse Management Systems directory, industry links, and events calendar.


Key Words


  • Warehousing efficiency
  • Warehousing sustainability
  • Green logistics
  • 3PL sustainability


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