A Cautionary Tale


“Supply Chain Today” attended this year’s conference in Cape Town where reducing waste and the sharing economy were also prevalent themes.
The word ‘green’ was never just about CFC’s and photovoltaics, it’s always carried a strong message about reducing waste and controlling excess.
This was the subject of Inigo Canalejo Lasarte and Nomathemba Mhlanga of Chep Emeas’s presentation. The ‘throw away’ economy is dead. The days of disposing easily and at a low cost to the economy and the environment, are over. Waste as a resource is back in fashion. It’s time to rein ourselves in.
One third of all food produced is wasted, trucks go back and forth empty. The linear supply chain makes way for a circular one. Take – make – dispose is overtaken by extending product life, recovery and recycling, re-purposing and transforming waste.
Sharing rather than outright ownership continues to trend upwards. Think Airbnb and uber. In fact, speed enters the picture too as in South Africa, an outfit called SafeMotos brings passenger transport onto motorcycles. An app monitors drivers who have to achieve a score of 90 out of 100 to be included in the pool.
Also in South Africa we have the Clothing Bank as a repository for customer returns, store damaged items, end of runs, bulk rejections etc. There’s Appliance Bank for discarded electronics and Tambino’s that hires out baby equipment such as car seats which are sterilised, recognised brands underwritten by a door-to-door service.
Together, South Africa and Rwanda are founding members of the Africa Circular Economy Network but barriers are poor transport and logistics systems, limited waste infrastructure and slow implementation.
Circular economy
Not so for pallet leasing and rental. Chep’s holding company, Brambles, owns 600 million pieces of equipment which traverse the globe continually compared with one-way or single use packaging. The humble pallet turns out unexpectedly to be a sexy example of sharing assets and limiting waste.
The company is looking at substituting cardboard