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Foremost Farms USA Joins Vanguard Renewables in Advancing Sustainable Dairy Practices


Foremost Farms USA Joins Vanguard Renewables in Advancing Sustainable Dairy Practices

Foremost Farms USA, a prominent dairy cooperative operating across seven states, has recently joined forces with Vanguard Renewables, a leading national player in organics-to-renewable energy production. This collaboration marks a pivotal step towards fostering sustainable organic waste reduction and renewable energy generation within the dairy industry.

As a cooperative owned by hundreds of dedicated Midwest dairy farm members, Foremost Farms is renowned for its commitment to producing top-quality milk used in the production of acclaimed cheese, butter, and dairy ingredients. By joining Vanguard Renewables’ Farm Powered Strategic Alliance (FPSA), Foremost Farms aims to bolster its dedication to sustainable practices and extend support to generational dairy farmers across America.

Neil H. Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Vanguard Renewables, expressed enthusiasm about Foremost Farms’ inclusion in the FPSA, emphasizing the cooperative’s role in fostering sustainable farming practices. He highlighted the alignment between Foremost Farms’ commitment to sustainability and Vanguard Renewables’ mission of exploring solutions for food waste reduction.

The FPSA, a collaborative initiative focused on driving systemic change in the dairy industry, is dedicated to promoting sustainable organic waste reduction and regenerative agriculture solutions. With Foremost Farms joining the alliance, FPSA gains a valuable partner with extensive experience in sustainable agriculture and a firm commitment to supporting America’s dairy farmers.

Greg Schlafer, President and CEO of Foremost Farms, echoed the cooperative’s dedication to sustainability, emphasizing the importance of partnerships that focus on environmental stewardship in the dairy industry. He expressed satisfaction in joining the FPSA as a strategic step towards furthering Foremost Farms’ commitment to sustainability and value creation for dairy farm families.

Vanguard Renewables’ partnership with food and beverage manufacturers facilitates the recycling of inedible food waste through Farm Powered anaerobic digestion, converting organic waste into renewable natural gas (RNG). This RNG is utilized to generate electricity, heat, and transportation fuel, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Rachel Turgasen, Senior Director of Member Relations and Corporate Sustainability at Foremost Farms, emphasized the partnership’s role in amplifying Foremost Farms’ commitment to sustainability and supporting its members’ efforts. Together with Vanguard Renewables, Foremost Farms aims to drive positive change in the dairy industry and contribute to a more sustainable future.

The FPSA continues to expand, with Foremost Farms joining other industry leaders such as Danone, AstraZeneca, Unilever, Starbucks, and several other national partners. This collaborative effort among like-minded companies is setting a new standard for sustainability and environmental stewardship across industries, making a lasting impact on the environment and local communities.



Sustainability is undoubtedly the critical issue of our time. 

With the global population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the United Nations estimates that the equivalent of almost three planets would be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain that many modern lifestyles.

While consumption and production are critical to the global economy, current volumes and unsustainable practices are placing a massive strain on the environment and its resources, leading to some already catastrophic impacts.

For instance, Deloitte reports that between 2000 and 2020, CO2 emissions released by global fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes rose by roughly 35%, to 34.07 billion metric tons. Given the need to address climate change and meet net-zero targets, this trend must be reversed.

Thankfully, many manufacturers are now recognizing the strong business case behind pursuing more sustainable practices. Indeed, operating in a sustainable manner can improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, lower costs, increase operational efficiency, enhance brand reputation, boost recruitment and staff retention practices, provide competitive advantages, futureproof for regulatory constraints and opportunities, and unlock access to government grants and funding.

Of course, sustainability is not a case of one-size-fits-all. Every manufacturer is different, and each will have to make sustainable changes that match unique criteria. Yet this diversity is resulting in an abundance of commendable innovations. 

What follows are some leading global manufacturing companies that are taking proactive and progressive approaches toward sustainability.


Canadian Pacific (CP) is one firm leading the sustainability charge in the rail arena, having introduced a hydrogen locomotive program back in December 2020.

Many railway operators globally use diesel-powered locomotives at present, representing the industry’s most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Recognizing this, CP has introduced a host of sustainability initiatives that have been successful in improving its fuel efficiency by more than 40% in the past three decades. Should the hydrogen program prove to be successful, it will help the firm take a further leap toward sustainable practices and serve to revolutionize energy consumption for the industry as a whole.

CP is in the process of retrofitting a line-haul locomotive with hydrogen fuel cells and battery technology to power the locomotive’s electric traction motors. The company will then conduct rail service trials and qualification testing to evaluate the technology’s readiness for real world use. 

To accelerate the program, the company also recently received a CA$15 million (US$12.1 million) grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta to increase the number of hydrogen locomotive conversions from one to three, as well as developing more hydrogen production and fueling facilities at CP’s rail yards in Calgary and Edmonton.

The former will comprise an electrolysis plant that will produce hydrogen from water, this process powered by solar panels at CP’s headquarters campus to keep emissions at zero. The latter, meanwhile, will see a small-scale steam methane reformation system being used to generate hydrogen while tapping into Alberta’s abundant natural gas resources.


Over in the mining and metals sector, organizations are also tapping into the potential of hydrogen to unlock similarly transformative solutions.

Rio Tinto, the world’s third largest mining company, has partnered with POSCO, the largest steel producer in South Korea, for the exploration and development of technologies capable of contributing to a low-carbon emission steel value-chain.

Both firms have outlined ambitions to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, the integration of Rio Tinto’s iron ore processing technology and POSCO’s steelmaking technology set to be pivotal in helping them to each reach such their intended sustainability targets.

In addition, Finnish metals specialist Metso Outotec is equally championing sustainability in the sector thanks to its unique Circored process, this involving the use of hydrogen to decarbonize the production of steel.

The flexible Circored process produces highly metalized direct reduced iron or hot briquetted iron which is then in turn used directly as a feed material in electric arc furnaces for carbon-free steelmaking.

Not only does this not require any fossil fuels, but it also helps Metso Outotec to minimize its costs by eliminating the need for energy-intensive pelletizing.


Back in the transportation sector, automotive manufacturers PACCAR, Daimler Trucks North America and Volvo Group recently sealed $127 million of $199 million in U.S. federal funding made available for the development of advanced battery-electric and fuel cell electric truck projects.

According to the International Energy Agency, transport accounts for approximately one fifth of all CO2 emissions, with 74.5% of this contribution stemming from passenger vehicles (45.1%) and road freight vehicles (29.4%).

Known as SuperTruck 3, the federal funding initiative is a five-year dollar-for-dollar investment matching program designed to accelerate the development of pollution reducing electrified medium- and heavy-duty trucks and freight system concepts that will either achieve zero emissions or improve energy efficiency. 

PACCAR secured $33 million of the funds to develop 18 class 8 battery-electric and fuel-cell trucks, as well as a megawatt charging station.

Daimler Trucks North America has received $26 million to develop two class 8 fuel cell trucks that have a 600-mile range and 25,000-hour durability–providing similar operational output compared with a diesel vehicle.

And Volvo Group North America will use $18 million in SuperTruck 3 funding to manufacture a 400-mile class 8 battery-electric tractor trailer that will focus on optimizing performance in relation to aerodynamics, tires, braking, automation and route planning. Further, the firm will also develop a megawatt charging station.

This is not the only commitment the manufacturers have made towards sustainable automotive solutions. Equally, Daimler and Volvo previously signed a joint venture to develop fuel cell vehicles during the current decade that would be sold under both brands. 


Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing might seem like a sector less ripe for sustainability initiatives. However, the MARISURF Consortium is demonstrating that this is equally an area where much progress can be made.

The Consortium, backed by several companies and funded by a grant of 4.8 million euros (or about US$5.4 million) from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program, aims to develop alternatives for petrochemicals in pharma products using marine microorganisms.

It comprises a selection of esteemed academic institutions, end-users and industrial companies, including manufacturers such as Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant VZW, EcTechSystens Srl, Nanoimmunotech and Marlow Foods Ltd.

The goal is to produce marine microorganism-based products for personal care, food and pharmaceutical formulations, with promising progress having been made in the five years since the research project first launched. Given that the consumer industry accounts for more than 70% of demand for all petrochemicals, this is significant. 

Indeed, common petrochemical use cases include drug production, soaps, plastics, fertilizers, pesticides, paints, and build materials such as flooring and insulation. However, it is hoped that marine organisms will become a viable, natural replacement, owing to the consortium’s research. 


While En+ Group is renowned as the world’s largest producer of low-carbon aluminum, it is also an active player in green energy solutions through several environmentally conscious initiatives. 

Many of these are driven by the firm’s New Energy program, focused on expanding clean energy generation and access. This seeks to modernize En+’s power plants through the implementation of new technologies capable of achieving greater hydropower energy efficiency and a reduced environmental impact, without increasing the water volumes passing through its hydropower turbines.

Further, the program aims to reduce En+’s environmental impact in other ways–namely through curbing the emissions of its coal-fired power plants. Initially launched in 2007 in tandem with the company’s plans to conduct the large-scale overhaul and replacement of core equipment at its largest hydropower plants based in Siberia, the project will continue to run until 2046. 

Through New Energy, it has also become the first Russian firm and just one of 28 companies globally to achieve a UN recognized Energy Compact–an initiative launched by UN Energy to acknowledge voluntary commitments by countries, businesses, and cities in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals by accelerating the transition to clean energy and improving energy access.


In Australia, global metals manufacturer Nyrstar and physical commodity trading company Trafigura Group have committed to a joint investment that will see the construction of a commercial scale green hydrogen manufacturing facility in Port Pirie, in partnership with the State Government of South Australia.

Currently the project is in the midst of an AUD$5 million (US$3.65 million) front end engineering design study that is expected to be concluded come the end of 2022, with construction then set to commence in 2023.

In total, the project will cost an estimated AUD$750 million (US$534 million), set to be rolled out in phases. Initially it will produce 20 tons of green hydrogen per day for export in the form of green ammonia, with plans to ramp up to 100 tons per day at full capacity, powered by a 440MW electrolyzer.

The manufacturing facility will become a key backbone of green hydrogen for Port Pirie and the surrounding region, providing significant benefit to local businesses while propelling the decarbonization of transport and industry.

The oxygen created in the hydrogen production process will also be utilized by the Nyrstar Port Pirie smelter. As part of the agreement, Trafigura will source 100% renewable energy to deliver the electricity needed to run the project’s electrolyzer, which will also contribute to decarbonizing the existing smelter’s power supply.


Intelligent automation specialist Dematic and Aspire Food Group have partnered on a unique venture, constructing a flagship, state-of-the-art facility that will be used for the purpose of enhancing the production and manufacture of food-grade insect protein.

Anticipated for completion in Q1 2022, the facility will be the world’s first fully automated food-grade insect protein manufacturing site, powered by Dematic’s innovative technology. 

Its Unit-Load Automated Storage/Retrieval Systems will be implemented through the 11-story building and use 96,000 totes to breed crickets, ready to be processed for either human or pet consumption.

Industrial IoT sensors, and artificial intelligence will also be deployed to unlock key data and insights that will be used to help optimize the conditions for cricket maturation, breeding and incubation. The project will also mark the inaugural use of such technologies in the enhancement of indoor vertical agriculture with living organisms.

In total, it is estimated that the totes will be able to produce up to 20,000 tons of cricket protein and waste for fertilizer and soil supplements annually. 


In China, logistics specialist Kuehne+Nagel and Honda have worked together to cut 16,000 tons of CO2 out of the supply chain of the automotive manufacturer through an ambitious road-to-rail project, reducing the regional division’s carbon emissions by as much as 70%.

Developed through KN Sincero–a joint venture between Kuehne+Nagel and Chinese logistics specialist Sincero–the initiative has seen Honda China move significant portions of its domestic long-haul trucking operations to train lines.

Tapping into regional hubs to optimize the performance of its supply chain, the manufacturer has unlocked several benefits. It has drastically reduced supply chain efficiencies and dramatically enhanced productive reliability, the project also delivering a range of value-added services spanning sorting, scanning, repackaging, GPS track and trace, and recyclable container management.

As a key partner, the project aligns with Kuehne+Nagel’s Net Zero Carbon initiative that was launched in 2019, geared toward not only lowering its own footprint but equally those of other organizations. Indeed, the firm resultantly achieved carbon neutrality globally in 2020, further turning attentions to supporting its partners thereafter through initiatives such as these.

natural gas

States That Consume the Most Natural Gas

As the world navigates the effects of climate change, policymakers are looking for strategies and investments to reduce carbon emissions and slow global warming. Global leaders met in Glasgow earlier this year to negotiate new targets for greenhouse gas reduction and climate change mitigation. In the U.S., investments in clean energy and the electric grid were a major component of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that Congress passed and President Joe Biden recently signed into law.

As policymakers work to reduce emissions, natural gas occupies a unique position in the U.S. energy mix. In recent years, widespread adoption of extraction techniques like hydraulic fracturing have made natural gas cheaper to produce. This has made natural gas an economically viable, cleaner-burning alternative to other heavy-emitting fossil fuels like coal. But natural gas does still produce carbon emissions, and as clean energy sources like wind and solar themselves become less expensive, the future of natural gas is uncertain.

Progressive governments with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, like California at the state level and Seattle at the local level, have enacted new building codes to discourage or restrict the use of natural gas in new construction. Simultaneously, states that have benefited from the natural gas boom, like Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, have banned municipalities in their states from enacting similar policies.

For now, the boom in production means that the U.S. is currently a net exporter of natural gas, producing more natural gas than it consumes. Production and consumption closely tracked together up until the mid-1980s, at which point consumption rose above production levels and natural gas imports increased. With the rise of fracking in the early 2000s, this trend began to reverse, and by 2017, natural gas production overtook consumption in the U.S., and the country became a net exporter.

But the greatest production increases have been limited to a handful of states. Texas has been a longtime leader in U.S. energy production due to its plentiful oil and natural gas reserves, and the state currently produces 8,288 trillion BTUs each year. Pennsylvania is a more recent beneficiary of the natural gas boom. Natural gas was difficult to extract in the state until horizontal drilling became common around 2008, but Pennsylvania quickly grew to become the second most productive state for natural gas. Texas, Pennsylvania, and other states that have reaped the economic benefits of expanded natural gas production may be most resistant to any transition away from natural gas as an energy source.

Beyond the interests of states that produce a high volume of natural gas, transitioning away from natural gas will also be difficult for states where natural gas is one of the primary sources of energy for consumers. Some states derive more than half of the energy they consume from natural gas, led by Alaska at 57.6%. These states will require affordable alternative energy sources at a wide scale before a transition will be possible.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau. To determine the states consuming the most natural gas, researchers at calculated total natural gas consumption per person. Researchers also included statistics on total natural gas consumption, the percentage of total state energy consumption derived from natural gas, and the percentage of total U.S. natural gas consumption accounted for by each state.

Here are the states consuming the most natural gas.

State Rank Natural gas consumption (million Btu per person) Total natural gas consumption (trillion Btu) Percentage of total state energy consumption Percentage of all U.S. natural gas consumption
    Alaska     1 484.3 354.3 57.6% 1.1%
    Louisiana     2 425.9 1,979.8 46.1% 6.2%
    Wyoming     3 287.5 166.4 30.8% 0.5%
    Oklahoma     4 217.8 861.8 51.4% 2.7%
    Mississippi     5 195.0 580.2 53.4% 1.8%
   North       Dakota     6 189.5 144.4 21.6% 0.4%
    Texas     7 164.8 4,779.5 33.6% 14.9%
    Alabama     8 152.6 748.1 38.9% 2.3%
    New Mexico     9 145.5 305.1 41.5% 0.9%
    Indiana     10 138.7 933.9 33.6% 2.9%
    Iowa     11 137.0 432.1 26.4% 1.3%
     West Virginia     12 132.8 238.0 28.8% 0.7%
   Pennsylvania     13 130.6 1,671.3 43.8% 5.2%
    Arkansas     14 123.0 371.1 33.9% 1.2%
    South Dakota     15 110.1 97.4 24.2% 0.3%
   United States     – 98.0 32,169.8 32.1% N/A


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on’s website:


Belgium Overtakes Germany as Second-Largest Biodiesel Exporter Worldwide

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Biodiesel – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

This year, Belgium is overtaking Germany to emerge as the second-largest biodiesel exporter in the world. From January to July 2021, Belgium supplied biodiesel worth $2.1B abroad, while Germany’s exports were estimated at $1.8B. The Netherlands keeps the leading position with a biodiesel export value of $4.2B. In 2020, Germany ($2.3B) followed the Netherlands ($4.6B) in global export ranking, while Belgium ($1.5B) took third place. The average biodiesel export price grew by +11% y-o-y to $979 per tonne in 2020. 

Global Biodiesel Exports by Country

Over the period from January to July 2021, the Netherlands remains the top biodiesel exporter worldwide, with a $4.2B value of the shipments abroad. Belgium ($2.1B) took second place in the global export ranking, followed by Germany ($1.8B).

In 2020, the amount of biodiesel exported worldwide amounted to 16M tonnes. In value terms, biodiesel exports were estimated at $15.9B (IndexBox estimates).

Last year, the Netherlands (4.7M tonnes), distantly followed by Germany (2.3M tonnes), Belgium (1.6M tonnes), Spain (1.5M tonnes), and China (0.9M tonnes) were the significant biodiesel exporters, together creating 70% of total exports. The following exporters – Argentina (597K tonnes), France (557K tonnes), Italy (494K tonnes), the U.S. (476K tonnes), Malaysia (402K tonnes), Canada (397K tonnes), Poland (365K tonnes) and Austria (289K tonnes) – together made up 23% of total exports.

In value terms, the Netherlands ($4.6B), Germany ($2.3B) and Belgium ($1.5B) constituted the countries with the highest levels of exports in 2020, with a combined 55% share of global exports. These countries were followed by Spain, China, Italy, France, Argentina, the U.S., Canada, Malaysia, Austria and Poland, which accounted for 38%.

Italy saw the highest growth rate of the value of exports in 2020, while shipments for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth. The value of biodiesel exported from Italy rose from $719M to $1.1B.

The average biodiesel export price stood at $979 per tonne in 2020, rising by +11% against the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Italy ($1,289 per tonne), while Argentina ($784 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. In 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Italy, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform


Vector Takes “Logistics with Purpose” to the Next Level

Global commercial shipping provider, Vector Logistics, announced its first-ever effort towards environmental wellness for client utilization this week. Carbon offsets is the main focus of Vector’s environmental service, established through the company’s partnership with the nonprofit Foundation. Not only does this enable clients to increase contributions towards a sustainable supply chain, but it also supports positive long-term effects on the industry as a whole.

“At Vector, we believe that a few caring people can and will change the world. And the truth is, we only have one world to share,” says CEO, Enrique Alvarez. “We are compelled to make clean, sustainable shipping a reality. ”

Living up to its primary value of “logistics with a purpose,” Vector selected due to its leading position in efforts against climate change and support of a cleaner business climate. Information released today confirmed that the nonprofit’s projects are always validated through a third party and vetted against the highest standards.

The carbon offsets effort is one of several options Vector will add to its environmental solutions portfolio. The company confirmed that additional options are in the works for 2022 to further support client goals in reducing their overall environmental footprint.

“Doing the right thing is a must, and there’s no time to waste. Together, we can make a difference both now and for generations to come,” Alvarez added.

To learn more and stay up-to-date on the latest solutions offerings, please visit:

supply chain


In its 2013 report titled Big Data in Logistics, DHL proclaimed that “The logistics sector is ideally placed to benefit from the technological and methodological advancements of Big Data” and predicted “huge untapped potential for improving operational efficiency and customer experience and creating useful new business models.”

Today, the transformation of logistics to a data-based model is no longer a futuristic fantasy. The ability to create a digital ID, carry it through the supply chain, capture all transactions along the way and implement action against that data has now become a reality. Intelligent identification solutions exist to optimize item-level data captured at the beginning of a product’s journey, enabling full inventory visibility and accuracy, as well as enhanced routing speed for all partners along the supply chain. With product-level data, supply chain execs are empowered to analyze and make intelligent real-time decisions with the ebbs and flows of demand.

As a global industry, 3PL professionals need to understand the promise of identity solutions and the key benefits they offer. The first step for leaders across the enterprise is recognizing that the supply chain is not a set of standalone “links.” On the contrary, supply chains should be viewed holistically to leverage advances in data infrastructure that enable a total ecosystem of item + shipping specific information across each touchpoint of a supply chain. 

The Importance of Accuracy 

Among the many advantages of assigning digital identities to products is speed—and the key to speed is accuracy. Think of it this way: The utilization of item data throughout the supply chain enables speed with accuracy. 

Consider a logistics scenario with an RFID-enabled intelligent label applied at the source of an item. As the item begins its journey, the data captured and carried in that label enables shipment verification. When the “intelligently” labeled products arrive at a facility or warehouse, the recipient can quickly confirm that what was received is precisely what was expected. 

The data contained in the intelligent labels also allow outbound verification to the store or e-commerce retailer. In turn, the same label gives the retailer the inbound verification they need to move the items directly into inventory, with data that assures its accuracy. At the end of the supply chain the retailer has confidence that they can show the customer exactly what is available.

Shipping errors are another logistics challenge that can be addressed through accurate data. Currently, up to 4% of shipping errors are due to misrouted items that must be returned to the distribution center for re-routing. Legacy operations that rely on separate processes (with the six to eight touchpoints that a product moves through) increase the chance of such errors. Therefore, there is an operational benefit to routing solutions that are based on item- or parcel-level data to allow cross-docking optimization within the supply chain that enables greater speed accuracy. Put simply, velocity increases as accuracy improves.

Moving Toward Sustainability

As the supply chain becomes more normalized post-pandemic, back-burnered sustainability goals are re-emerging, driven by consumers, regulations, and cost—not necessarily in that order. The supply chain as an industry is being specifically tasked with sustainability.

A report from the management consulting group BCG stated, “By implementing a net-zero supply chain (the state in which as much carbon is absorbed as is released into the atmosphere), companies can amplify their climate impact, enable emission reductions in hard-to-abate sectors, and accelerate climate action in countries where it would otherwise not be high on the agenda.” This report also noted that “in most supply chains, the costs of getting to net-zero are surprisingly low.”

On the consumer side, a research study from Deloitte found that “concerned consumers are adopting a raft of different measures to shop and live more sustainably. One of the most prominent lifestyle changes is “shopping for brands with environmentally sustainable values.” In fact, over a third of consumers surveyed indicated that they value ethical practices in the products and services they buy. 

The data captured and carried in intelligent labels provide real-world efficiency solutions for achieving sustainability in logistics. One of the areas in which supply chains can address carbon emissions is in the transport of goods. One factor that deters sustainability in 3PL is trucks not being loaded to their full capacity.

In fact, our own studies have shown that up to 14% more volume can be loaded into a truck by utilizing key data that consider size and weight of parcels, creates the most efficient delivery route and considers other variables such as perishability.  Clearly, such sustainability initiatives have the potential to lower costs as well.

Caution: Hazardous Materials

There is yet another issue that is becoming more urgent and that is the prevalence of hazardous materials in the supply chain. First, it is necessary to define hazardous materials. These are substances or materials that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation has determined are “capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce.”

These materials include hazardous substances and wastes, marine pollutants, elevated-temperature materials, and other materials designated by federal Hazardous Materials Regulations.

In supply chain operations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires these items to have “Hazardous Material” markings and/or labels. There are significant financial penalties for incorrect shipping identification, including accruing fines that can amount to more than $78,000 per instance.

Among the many items on the FAA’s list are the lithium-ion batteries used in many consumer products, each of which require the special markings and/or labels and have their own specific requirements for placement in cargo. Sorting solutions that use digital product identities currently exist to alert shippers where certain items, such as these batteries, should and should not be placed.

The importance of data in logistics will only increase over time. Deploying RFID intelligent label solutions at the source of an item will carry it safely, sustainably and quickly through all of the touchpoints along the supply chain—and beyond. The future of a data-enabled logistics eco-system is here. 


Michael Kaufmann is director, Market Development, Logistics with Avery Dennison. The company recently launched its the connected product cloud platform that gives unique digital IDs to physical objects for end-to-end tracking from the source to the customer and even beyond to take part in the circular economy. 


Tackling the Hottest Topic in Packaging – Sustainability

Almost every product needs a package. Whether that be a toilet shipping through UPS or a windshield shipping FTL into a vehicle assembly line. The world of packaging is full of trends, hot topics, and buzz words. One that has been a hot topic for the last 10 years is sustainability.

This article is going to look at the three pillars of package sustainability: Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. Let’s look at these three words through the BoldtSmith Packaging lens which focuses on creating optimized packaging solutions that lead to sustainable packaging practices.

Sustainability – Optimized Packaging

When seeking a sustainable packaging solution, it’s important to determine which R is applicable to your packaging goals.

Some products and supply chains are a great fit for recyclable/compostable materials. However, for those that are not, we focus on providing optimized packaging solutions that reduce the carbon footprint. This is where Reduce and Reuse come into play. Optimized packaging solutions lead to sustainable packaging practices because:

-Material: Selecting the best materials results in less material

-Freight: Eliminating air from master cartons leads to better freight efficiency which means less fuel burned

Is sustainability more than just a “feel good” marketing term that large corporations like proudly displaying on their websites and packaging? Keep reading and let’s find out.

Below are descriptions for what each of the three R’s are along with examples from projects we have completed in the past.

Optimized Packaging – Reduce

Reducing packaging materials has been a fundamental pillar in cost reduction. Reducing packaging materials also ties into package sustainability as this reduces the amount of trash being thrown away. This is relevant to all packaging materials whether that be corrugated, foam, aluminum, glass, etc. Eliminating materials that cannot be recycled is not always possible and open-loop supply chains will not allow for a returnable packaging system. This is where BoldtSmith Packaging looks to create optimized packaging designs that reduce the amount of materials used.

Read the below example on how we reduced the level of product damage while in parallel decreasing the amount of packaging material, costs, and freight.

Optimized Packaging Example – Reduce

A customer we have completed multiple projects for was having damage issues with their toilet’s shipping through a small parcel supply chain direct to consumer. They engaged us to develop a packaging solution that would reduce their damage from 12% to less than 1% while in parallel reducing material and freight costs.

Below is an overview of their current packaging vs our optimized solution.

Current Packaging

-Packaging Material Cost: $16.90 per unit

-Packaging Freight Cost: $383.76 via UPS Ground

-Annual Volume: 10,000 units

-Total Annual Cost: $4,006,000

-Damaged Units Annually: 1,200

Design #1: Non-Recyclable Packaging Solution

-Packaging Material Cost: $12.90 per unit

-Packaging Freight Cost: $310.08 via UPS Ground

-Annual Volume: 10,000 units

-Total Annual Cost: $3,222,800

Damaged Units Annually: 100

Cost Difference Annually: $783,200; Damage Difference Annually: 1,100 units

For this example, we designed an optimized packaging solution that dropped their damage rate by less than 1% while in parallel saving them just under $800,000 annually in packaging material and freight costs.

Sustainability variables to consider:

1. Elimination of 1,100 damaged units annually

-Repairs and adjustments

-Return shipment and reverse logistics

-Expedited shipments costs for new product

-New packaging for new product

2. Smaller master carton and interior dunnage reducing the amount of packaging material needed

3. Smaller master carton meaning less space taken up during shipping reducing carbon emissions

Optimized Packaging – Reuse

Closed-loop supply chains offer a great opportunity for utilizing a reusable packaging solution. A common scenario of reusable packaging solutions is manufacturing companies receiving sub-assembly components from a local company.

Common reusable packaging solutions can include:

-Plastic or heavy-duty wood pallets

-Plastic or wooden crates

-Bulk containers such as drums, and IBC’s

-Plastic totes and boxes


Optimized Packaging Example – Reuse

A large door and window manufacturer reached out to BoldtSmith Packaging looking for us to optimize their packaging for all the inbound components they use to build the doors and windows. This included frames, glass, locks, jambs, etc. They receive these components from domestic manufacturing companies. Steps of the project are outlined below along with the findings.

1. Visit the assembly facility to review all packaging material and processes associated with unloading, handling, and storing the components.

2. Brainstorm potential packaging solutions and develop 3D concepts with budgetary pricing

3. Present concepts to our customer and all component suppliers

4. Create packaging designs and specifications and send for pricing from packaging suppliers

5. Create financial analysis comparing current packaging to returnable solutions

6. Create packaging samples for line trials, lab tests and ship tests

7. Adjust design based on testing findings

8. Implement!

At the end of the project, it was determined that 10 of the 12 component suppliers would be transitioned into a returnable packaging solution. This transition saved the customer costs associated with the packaging materials and labor efficiencies were gained while in parallel eliminating expendable packaging solutions from the supply chain.

Optimized Packaging – Recycle

Utilizing recyclable packaging materials is great and we love presenting recyclable packaging options to our customers. Recycling plays a crucial role in minimizing waste and preserving the natural resources of the earth. They are a great fit depending on the product, supply chain, customer base, and most importantly, budget. When outlining our projects, we like to obtain the customer’s goals of the project and so often are we given the below objectives ranked by priority.

-Decrease packaging material costs

-Decrease freight costs

-Decrease labor costs

-Decrease product damage

– “Oh and make it recyclable”

Transitioning from non-recyclable packaging materials that are effective and cheap to 100% recyclable materials can be a cost-effective change depending on the product and packaging. However, there are situations where these recyclable materials are not a great fit. This can be based on who the customer base is, the product type, the supply chain, budget for packaging, etc.

Optimized Packaging Example – Recycle

A large knockdown furniture company reached out to BoldtSmith Packaging looking to transition away from non-recyclable foam in their products. The furniture items are manufactured domestically and ship through both small parcel and palletized supply chains.

We developed packaging designs with and without non-recyclable foam, completed transit testing and created a financial analysis comparing the various solutions. What we determined is that for small parcel shipping, we were not able to cost-effectively transition away from foam. However, we were able to utilize 100% recycled materials for their palletized furniture products.

This was a great balance between remaining cost-effective while exploring sustainable packaging materials. Click the below link to learn more about optimizing furniture packaging.

Contact BoldtSmith Packaging to discuss what we can do for you.


How to Attract Millennial and Generation Z Employees with Eco-Friendly Initiatives

By 2030, millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) will be the central working force in society.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennials study, three-quarters of millennials and Gen Z respondents indicated they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments in deciding where to work. Two-thirds even said they would not accept a job that didn’t have a strong sustainability program. To make your business more appealing to younger generations of workers, you’ll want to think about going green.

Sustainability doesn’t always mean reusable water bottles and recycling, though that’s definitely part of building a sustainable business. Sustainability can also mean eliminating paper processes, streamlining workflows, and updating your business operations to create less waste. In these days of rapidly-changing work environments and shifting priorities, sustainability is something to keep at the forefront of your business plans.

Find your sources of waste

What’s the first thing you think of when it comes to eliminating eco-unfriendliness in business? My mind went right to the fact that companies have largely moved to paper-free internal communications. There are more opportunities to go green than just shifting to instant messaging and email communications, though! Even allowing for employees to work remotely is a sustainable practice that your company might already be participating in.

In order to identify more ways to be more eco-friendly, think about where waste comes from in your business. Is there any low-hanging-fruit like removing paper plates from the lunch room or offering composting bins around the office? Acting on the more apparently unsustainable elements of your business gives you a tangible place to start, and might just inspire more sustainability across the board.

Once you’ve tackled those more apparent waste generators, consider which departments might use the most paper or the most manual processes. Is there a way to streamline those departments and create less waste? Now is the time to get creative and re-think antiquated processes!

Re-imagine workflows and processes

This is where sustainability meets creativity. Changing up processes might seem counterintuitive. Doesn’t re-training require paperwork? Actually, it doesn’t take much to make it eco-friendly when you have the right partners and systems in place. Updating antiquated systems is an underutilized opportunity for increased sustainability!

For example, many unsustainable workflows exist in accounts payable (AP) departments. From sending physical checks to keeping paper records, there are a lot of manual processes (not to mention a lot of paper) going on in the back office.

If you’re hoping to attract millennial or Gen Z employees to your AP team, you might want to look into AP automation. You can automate the entire payment workflow, address the growing fraud and security risks associated with ACH payments, and ensure the resiliency of payment workflows all without using a shred of paper.

If it’s possible to make your AP department sustainable, it’s possible to find eco-friendly opportunities in pretty much any department! Once you’ve refined your processes and streamlined previously wasteful departments, it’s time to share.

Be public about your sustainability efforts

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of bragging about sustainability efforts. It might inspire more eco-friendly ideas from current employees, consumers respond well to companies that are environmentally friendly, and sustainability messaging can be a valuable recruitment tool.

In 2021 the Journal of Cleaner Production found that younger people are willing to accept a lower salary to work for sustainable companies. This isn’t to say that implementing sustainable processes and initiatives is the key to lowering overall company spend, but it is incontrovertible proof that sustainability really matters.

Going green isn’t only important to potential recruits. According to a 2020 study by IBM, “Nearly eight in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them. And for those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70 percent would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.”

Obviously, you don’t want to print a load of paper flyers or hire a plane to skywrite about your sustainable initiatives, but email blasts and website posts are paper-free and effective ways to share what you’ve done to become more eco-friendly. You might even consider forming a “green committee” to keep the sustainable ideas flowing.

Sustainability efforts can help you recruit employees, save money, and even increase your bottom line. Whether that means composting leftovers or automating entire departments, sustainability is worth keeping at the forefront of your mind and your business plan.


Sarah Thibeau is the Digital Media Specialist at Nvoicepay, a FLEETCOR company.

circular economy

Next Generation Supply Chain – Building The Circular Economy

It might be dismaying, if not shocking, to learn that humanity’s demand for natural resources far exceeds what the planet is capable of regenerating. We currently consume the equivalent of around 1.7 earths every year. With global demand increasing, it is expected by 2050 that we will need the equivalent of 3 earths. Our current resource consumption rates are obviously unsustainable, and if we continue on our current trajectory, we’ll inevitably deplete all of the planet’s resources.

As the global population continues to grow and the demand for goods increases in-kind, there’s mounting pressure on companies to produce more, and more quickly, in order to stay relevant. To meet this fevered demand, humanity has relied on linear ‘take‑make‑waste’ supply chains and disposable-economy models. Products get thrown away and become landfills. Yet more are produced to meet an ever-growing need.

Electronic equipment waste, in particular, represents one of the most glaring threats to our planet’s long-term stability. The United Nations estimates that the current 53 million tonnes of e-waste generated every year will double by 2050, making it the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Likewise, global plastics production currently totals over 360 million metric tons per year. 50% of those are single-use plastics–they’re produced, used once, and thrown away. The cumulative total of plastics produced is now over 8-billion tons worldwide, with around 10 million of those tons ending up in our oceans each year.

It’s time for the disposable, ‘take-make-waste’ economy that humanity created to change. To slow down the wanton consumption of earth’s natural resources, stop plastic pollution and raw-materials waste, we need a circular economy that works for all of us. The good news is, steps are being taken toward just such a model.

Slowing Down the Natural Resource Consumption Rate

Manufacturers need to reduce the consumption of natural resources by recycling raw materials from end-of-use products and reconditioning or repurposing their components for use in new products.

By using digital and IoT technology, for example, manufacturers can empower consumers and employees to monitor the usage, performance, and overall integrity of factory or household equipment. Sensor technology can help predict problems and equipment failures, facilitate proactive maintenance, and ensure equipment remains viable at critical junctures.

Products will need to be designed with both end-of-use and remanufacture in mind. This requires designing-in processes for disassembly to reclaim raw materials and components that can be reconditioned, reused, or remanufactured.

When products are no longer viable, AI and robotics technology can salvage useful remnants from those products. For example, Apple uses a robot [Daisy] to disassemble iPhones to reclaim and conserve high-quality and precious materials in an energy-efficient way. Daisy dismantles 200 iPhones per hour and methodically places collected materials in appropriate containers. By using digital technology, manufacturers can assess returned products and materials for refurbishment, re-manufacture, or resale at a relatively low cost, and by keeping the same materials in circulation longer, they’ll constrain the rate of natural resource consumption.

Recovering End-of-Use Products for Remanufacture

Manufacturers need to increase the probability of recovering end-of-use products in order to reuse components or reclaim raw materials for new products.

To that end, they can offer direct-to-consumer, subscription-based ‘Product-as-a-Service’ mechanisms that use sensor technology to monitor product consumption and usage up until end-of-use. The manufacturer can then provide the consumer with an automated direct replacement of the product while collecting any vessels, cartridges, or containers for reincorporation in the manufacturing process.

In this scenario, the manufacturer’s reduced consumption dovetails with them gaining better insight into the consumer’s product experience by understanding the frequency of use in demand/replacement cycles.

Removing intermediaries in the supply chain can also provide greater value to the customer. Getting rid of middlemen costs less and ensures new products arrive directly at your door when you need them.

Industrial Symbiosis

Industrial symbiosis is the process by which waste or by‐products from one company or industry become the raw materials for another. The waste or by-product can either be donated or sold to another company allowing the resources to then be monetized and reused. Moving materials and resources between different companies and industries is key not just to creating a circular economy, but also to ensure the best possible use of natural resources.

Leveraging Technology and Making Circular Economies Happen

All of the above scenarios can reduce natural resource consumption, increase raw material productivity and lifecycles, and reduce manufacturing costs. Whether it’s via extending the life of mechanical and electronic appliances through remote performance monitoring, providing products direct-to-consumers with a system for reclaiming unwanted containers and cartridges, or improving the speed of disassembly and raw material reclamation for reuse, digital technology plays a pivotal role in making that reality.

The provenance and flow of components, products, and materials through supply chains to their end-of-use needs to be transparent. Unique identifier technologies such as cryptographic anchors, molecular DNA tags, or RFID tags can be applied to the surface of a component or product, or embedded into raw materials, to gather data on how wasteful a given supply chain is. Using these unique identifiers in conjunction with blockchain not only authenticates the provenance and origin of components and materials, it also provides location-based information for tracking and tracing product conditions.

Leading organizations are now focusing their efforts on using technologies to enable the transition to a circular economic model. Technologies such as IoT, predictive and prescriptive analytics, 3D printing, AI and machine learning, blockchain and digital twins, all have an essential role to play in this transition.


To further encourage the paradigm shift toward a circular economy necessitates a change in how we think about product acquisition. The motor industry offers drivers the opportunity to lease their cars with the option to buy after some certain period of time has passed. This ‘Product-as-a-Service’ leasing model is now being adopted by other manufacturers. Instead of purchasing a washing machine you can lease one. A consumer can enter into a contract with the manufacturer based on an agreed number of individual washing cycles or time, and be billed monthly. At the end of the contract, the manufacturer collects the machine and replaces it with a new one and a new leasing contract, or just takes the machine away for the consumer to consider other competitive leasing options. Either way, the machine is back in the hands of the manufacturer, who can now refurbish the machine for reuse.

During the consumer’s use of the machine, the manufacturer can not only monitor its usage, but also its integrity. Using IoT sensors and predictive analytics, the manufacturer can keep an eye on the health of the machine and recommend that the user proactively replace a given component before it breaks.

There are many examples of where ‘Product-as-a-Service’ and leasing models are becoming more commonplace by using digital technology to enable the provision, service, and financial arrangements. This is just one area where the industry is evolving to meet the moment, but an important one, and it illustrates how radically manufacturers can rethink their business models if they are so motivated. Moving to a more sustainable, less wasteful business model doesn’t have to mean a net loss for companies. If anything, the available examples seem to suggest that such transitions will open up unforeseen opportunities for new revenue streams and technological innovation. Far from being a zero-sum proposition, the conservation of raw materials and resources, it seems, can be of benefit to both consumers and manufacturers.


 Tim Adams is an Executive Partner at Theorem