Preventing pollution: changing inventory and purchasing practices

Having strategies in place to both: reduce the amount of stock you have to throw out because it is expired, damaged or no longer needed; and ensure you take the environment into account when buying goods.

Questions to ask yourself for your inventory management techniques

  • Do you inspect your goods upon arrival so that damaged goods can be returned to the supplier?
    • damaged goods can lead to poor product quality and/or performance, loss of material through leaks and potential risk to worker health and safety
  • Have you identified your storage requirements to minimize losses?
    • different materials have different storage requirements for parameters like temperature, light, moisture and length of storage
  • Have you implemented good stock rotation procedures to use material on a first-in, first-out basis
  • Have you considered minimizing inventory and implementing just-in-time delivery to minimize losses?

Questions to ask yourself for your purchasing techniques

  • Do you have a list of approved products/suppliers that you know are environmentally friendly?
  • Do you prohibit or limit certain toxic/harmful substances in materials you purchase?
  • Do you tailor purchases to your specific needs?
    • Do you order appropriate sizes of materials to avoid off-cut waste?
    • Have you considered purchasing in bulk?

Canadian companies preventing pollution

The following examples come from Canadian companies that have reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory:

  • a scientific research and development service site practiced first-in, first-out to improve quality assurance and reduce waste
  • a fabricated metal manufacturer improved the ordering process of all substances, now ordering in smaller quantities as needed in order to reduce waste
  • a primary metal manufacturer prohibited the purchase of materials containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), ozone depleting substances, dioxins and furans, and 30 other substances of concern
  • a chemical manufacturer in Ontario started buying products with longer shelf lives
  • A non-metallic mineral product manufacturer started purchasing only Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant inks

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