Reducing The Environmental Impact In Supply Chains


Responsible businesses across the country are examining ways to reduce their environmental impact.

Three of the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact are focussed on urging businesses to improve environmental responsibility proactively.

But how many are considering the overall impact of their supply chain? The consultancy firm McKinsey says 90% of companies’ impact on the environment comes from supply chains.

Issues such as water pollution, deforestation, hazardous air emissions and excessive energy use can occur in both local and global supply chains.

Unipart has a long history of working with complex supply chains across a range of industry sectors from automotive to health. The company’s philosophy of working in long-term, shared destiny partnerships with its stakeholders helped to shape the thinking behind its Group Environmental Policy.

Working with our key customers and suppliers, we’ve introduced a number of practices that have been sustained and improved over the years, including the following:

  • A zero waste to landfill policy for all waste types.
  • Implementation of a series of environmental KPI’s to monitor, report and manage the environmental performance across sites.
  • Tracking for key measures such as: energy consumption, carbon emissions, waste production, water usage and environmental compliance status, all of which are monitored and reviewed on a monthly basis.
  • Development of a digital application which is reviewed by each site’s dedicated environmental representative.
  • The use of Unipart Way tools and techniques identify improvements by teams to improve our environmental performance.

An example of how Unipart is focusing on the environmental impact is evident in the newly opened NHS Supply Chain site in Bury St Edmunds.  This new state-of- the-art facility was opened as part of a long-term growth strategy to yield savings for NHS frontline services.

Environmental sustainability is core for both NHS Supply Chain and Unipart; this is why a sustainability project stream was set up for Suffolk Park. An advanced rainwater harvesting system replenishes water in all on-site amenities and LED roof lighting was installed that ensures both energy efficiency and associated light damage compliance with MDR. On the site premises, a total of 2,200 trees and 750 shrubs have been planted and electric vehicle charging stations installed, along with a large bike shelter. A dedicated bus stop has also been agreed with the local council to minimise vehicle pollution in the near future.

In many circumstances, collecting and analysing data helps to uncover issues that can be addressed simply. A good example of this was the environmental improvement that took place at the NHS Supply Chain site at Rugby. The NHS Supply Chain is one of Unipart’s customers, with eight major sites across the UK.

The site had a high volume of general waste in proportion to recyclable waste. Studying the waste generation on site, we found that the baler which is used to process cardboard was unable to handle the large size cardboard pieces we were receiving.

Working with our waste management partner, CHC, we introduced a second low cost baler to enable the Rugby site to process material of this size.

The net impact was a 31% reduction of general and non-recyclable waste across a three month period in comparison to the prior three months, a sharp decrease in general waste volumes, while increasing recycling rates and the income generated for the site.

Now, Unipart is working on a visual management project rolling out to all warehouses and offices. This project aims to improve waste segregation and recycling through a unified colour coding system, improved signage and visual aids, and by improving the waste receptacles across each site.

When developing any improvements such as this on one of our sites, it becomes a standard which is then deployed across other Unipart sites and, in some cases, with our suppliers.

Consistent monitoring, visibility of results through dashboards and online portals, and the careful examination of problems to understand and address the root cause are all at the heart of driving continuous improvement.

Unipart is now working with multiple large organisations using advanced digital supply chain tools and techniques to uncover potential for making significant environmental improvements. For more information about how this can benefit your business, please contact us.