With an extensive supply chain across the globe, we believe there are many opportunities to improve our collective impact on the planet and society by modifying the way we do business with our partners.
Our Purchasing Team, which is responsible for all aspects of managing our supply chain, has been working closely with our suppliers for many years to ensure quality, continuity, efficiency and mitigation of risks. In support of these efforts, the team undergoes training on an annual basis to review the terms and methods for ensuring our Supplier Code of Conduct is upheld. In doing so, we reinforce our expectations for suppliers to conduct their business responsibly. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we also spent much of 2017 establishing a meaningful management approach for supplier sustainability. This effort was initiated by engaging our colleagues with expertise in purchasing, supply chain logistics and the needs of our business segments to collect suggestions for how we could fully integrate sustainability into existing supply chain management practices. We also used this as an opportunity to review existing initiatives and to catalog activities that had resulted in positive sustainability outcomes. These internal success stories, paired with information we gathered from benchmarking industry best practices, were valuable guides for developing our strategy for sustainable supply chain management.
A key aspect of the strategy we devised involves rolling out an auditing program as an extension to the existing practices we have in place for supplier-quality auditing. The pilot of this auditing program is slated for 2018. In addition, we look forward to continuing our collaboration both internally across departments as well as with our suppliers to uncover new opportunities to improve social and environmental practices across our supply chain.
Refurbishing Wooden Pallets
We found new ways to repair, reuse, or recycle wooden pallets used for transportation of materials at our Sarnia, Canada, facility.
Many of the shipments made from our facilities utilize wooden pallets to transport products. At our Sarnia facility, we worked with a local supplier who now collects used pallets from our customers and performs inspections to determine if and how they might be repaired, reused or recycled. Repairable pallets are reintroduced to the supply chain, while unrepairable pallets are recycled through a secondary market for wood-based products. This effort has led to a 25% reduction in the need for new wooden pallets, which translates to significant cost savings, decreased waste and more responsible management of a natural resource. This proof of concept has been compelling and has inspired us to partner with a key regional supplier that would allow an expansion of the program across North America in the near future.
Reducing Packaging Waste
A partnership with our suppliers and customers in Maua, Brazil, allowed us to reuse non-damaged containers at a rate of 91%, with most bags getting reused approximately six times before they are disposed.
A flexible intermediate bulk container (FIBC) is a large bag made of durable woven plastic commonly used to package products before shipping to a customer. The standard industry practice is to use new bags for each order, and the bags are then discarded after the product is used. However, the integrity of these bags is typically not compromised during shipment, so there is a possibility of reusing them. Recognizing this, our Maua, Brazil, facility explored opportunities to partner with suppliers and customers to implement a take-back program for these bags, helping reduce landfill waste. This project involved introducing a new FIBC contractor responsible for performing inspection and refurbishing of the bags. To ensure the process was implemented smoothly, we coordinated with our customers to not only reclaim a significant number of used bags, but to also encourage careful handling of the bags to avoid tears. This effort successfully led to an average 91% reuse rate of FIBC bags, with most bags getting reused approximately six times before they are disposed. This is one example of a program we hope to replicate more broadly across our operations, as it delivers a positive environmental benefit and can also be more cost-effective.