Santa is going green: How I helped Santa create a more sustainable Christmas supply chain!

After an arduous trip to the North Pole, I’m back to report on what he’s doing to reduce his environmental impact.

While Santa may be a jolly old elf, he’s also a certified Lean practitioner, and the originator of just in time delivery, so he’s always looking for ways to reduce waste, cut costs, and improve performance.

He used to think that global warming wasn’t real and that switching to more sustainable solutions would prevent him from delivering his billions of packages around the globe Christmas night, but after viewing my Logistics Sustainability and Profitability 101 presentation, Santa gave me a call.

Since supply chain is a team sport, we brought all the Elves, Mrs. Claus and the Reindeer to create a lean and green team, to look at ways we could cut costs, environmental impact and improve the Christmas experience.

The first thing we did was look for low hanging fruit, and after a quick review, we saw we could easily fit 50% more items in his sleigh, just by optimizing his packaging!

Santa was skeptical, but once I showed him that just shrinking 30B parcels, or about 20% of the ~160B parcels shipped globally in 2020, from 10X10x10 to 9X9X9 would eliminate the equivalent of 2.8M 28-foot trailers , he quickly realized how many fewer trips he would have to make to the North Pole and back.

“Even better, every outbound trip we avoid also eliminates all those empty miles back,” he smiled. “Boy the reindeer will be happy about that!”

So we went to work, starting at the top of the supply chain. We brought his chief product design, packaging and logistics elves together, and identified ways to either reduce or eliminate the need for packaging.

In some cases, we needed to make small tweaks to the products themselves so they didn’t need so much packaging, or so we could stack them as snugly as possible in his sleigh.

“This is great!” Santa exclaimed. “I hated how I’d wind up with this empty gap in my sled, because the presents weren’t designed to maximize the space. Just doing that resulted in being able to put twice as many items in my sled.”

“Now, we cut down fewer trees for packaging, need fewer elves to repackage the items, and I can fit 4x more items in my sleigh!”

I’ve run out of time to share more details about Santa’s sustainable transformation, but if you sign up for Lean and Green, my supply-chain sustainability and profitability newsletter, you can get the insights you need to improve your profits and the planet – or just reach out and I’ll be happy to help you!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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