Circular Supply Chain - What is it and Why is it Important?With companies putting greater emphasis on sustainability than ever before, it’s critical to understand what a circular supply chain is and how it functions. 

Today’s supply chain is one that caters its practices and operations to customer demands as precisely possible. In turn, few things rank more highly on the list of customer concerns than sustainability. Not only that, but the need for sustainability is also being driven forward by governments around the world, with numerous penalties and incentives for companies that are more or less compliant with their regulations and guidelines. As such, companies are quickly making a transition to ‘green’ supply chains. Supply chains that are less wasteful, use materials that are recyclable, leave a smaller carbon footprint, and more.

However, making that transition is far from easy and requires a holistic change in the way that supply chains are operated and managed. Essentially, companies need a new operating model. This is where the concept of a circular economy and circular supply chain comes into play. These concepts mark a paradigm shift; a novel way in which companies can design their supply chains for sustainability going forward.

This article by Morai Logistics explains what a circular supply chain is, how it works, and why its significant.

What is it?

A circular supply chain is a supply chain that is geared around reusing its ostensible waste materials as well as its returns. It aims to take these materials and returns and convert them into new products that they can sell once more. Thus, it marks a shift for supply chains. A shift in which waste as its traditionally known no longer exists or is kept to a bare minimum. Naturally, this also means near-perfect sustainability.

An article by Trade Ready elaborates further on the nature of circular supply chains and what they look like,

A circular economy is alternative to the traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value while the product is in use. When the product has reached the end of its life-cycle, then core materials are recovered and regenerated. The circular economy is waste-free and resilient by design.

Why is it Important?

It is a new model for supply chains because, by its very nature, it fulfills a need companies are desperately trying to meet. That being the above mentioned need for sustainability. It flips many previous intuitions on their head. In a circular supply chain, there’s value in waste. Where waste is normally seen as a source of weakness, a circular economy makes it a resource. A resource that’ll translate into more products.

Moreover, its not only a forward-thinking model in terms of its outcomes, but also in its management. Crucially, it marks another step towards the marriage of technology and supply chain practices, as digitization is key in enabling a circular supply chain. With that in mind, perhaps the next big thing in supply chain technology could be an all-encompassing system that enables companies to ‘go circular” as currently they have to adopt several technologies to do so.

A recent post by Supply Chain Digital emphasizes both the points above,

“The circular economy creates an ecosystem of materials,” commented Sarah Watt, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice. “What was previously viewed as waste now has value. However, those ecosystems are complex and include many interdependencies and feedback loops. Digital technology has the potential to provide visibility and enable improved decision making when it comes to raw materials and services”…study showed that there is no ‘all purpose technology’ that will enable an organisation to develop a circular economy, it is a combination of technology that leads to this.

Going Green - Sustainability in Supply Chains

More than ever, companies are realizing the importance of making sustainability a priority in their supply chains—this is how they’re making that transition. 

Sustainability is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a choice. This isn’t only for regulatory reasons, though avoiding fines and penalties certainly is important to companies. Rather, companies are recognizing that making their supply chains environmentally friendly also has positive results on their reputation and customer satisfaction.

As such, it’s more critical than ever for companies to have a game plan when making their transition towards sustainability. With that said, this game plan needs to be multifaceted and comprehensive but still realistic. Going green doesn’t have to be the monumental task it seems if such a strategy can be enacted.

This ebook goes over the main steps companies are taking to make their supply chains greener and the key considerations that coincide with those measures.

What are Companies doing to ensure that Sustainability is Central to their Supply Chains?


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5 Steps for Moving Supply Chains Closer to Sustainability

The need for sustainability in supply chains is greater than ever—here’s how they can transition towards it in 5 critical steps.  

Sustainability is a word that’s growing more prominent in the world of supply chains. And for good reason. Not only does it make environmental sense, but is also makes business sense. Whether it’s a result of customer demands or governmental regulations or minimized costs and waste, sustainable supply chains have a competitive advantage in the long run. Conversely, not incorporating sustainability into supply chains can be a considerable shortcoming for companies.

According to Mckinsey,

One condition that can slow a company’s growth is poor sustainability performance, as measured in environmental and social impact. To make and sell goods, consumer businesses need affordable, reliable supplies of energy and natural resources, as well as permission from consumers, investors, and regulators to do business.

As such, this week’s article by Morai Logistics lays out 5 integral steps for companies to adopt to help them move towards sustainability in their supply chains.


The first thing any company has to do when moving towards sustainability is to put a plan in place. This is where they should review every aspect of their supply chain, leaving no stone unturned. Through this review they can identify where their chain is weakest in terms of the sustainability of its operations. In turn, this will allow the companies’ leaders to strategize and create an overview of the changes that need to be made.

Keep Your Expectations in Check

As important as it is for companies to be ambitious with their transition to sustainable supply chains, they still need to be realistic. By setting goals that are unattainable, the whole endeavour can feel deflating and ultimately a failure. Rather, leaders should make sure to communicate to all along the supply chain that having a greener supply chain can take time. Furthermore, that some of the benefits of a sustainable supply chain can take some time to become evident. With that said, this is no reason to not hold any actor along the chain entirely responsible for maintaining sustainable practices.

Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Like with any business undertaking, goal setting is critical. Companies need to gather data, reports, and other forms of feedback on sustainable supply chains so that they have hard numbers to compare themselves to. Through this feedback, supply chain managers can formulate metrics through which they can assess success and failure. It is only through these KPIs that they can know whether their sustainability effort is heading in the right direction.

Train and Educate

Whenever any kind of transition or evolution in business practices takes place, education and training has to follow. Thus, if a supply chain is going to successfully go green, it has to have training and education programs in place. Sustainable practices are going to be different. With that in mind, even the more seasoned professionals along supply chains may need assistance when making adjustments.


The final step for companies to have an optimal transition to sustainability is for them to make sure they are continually evaluating their results. Trial and error is part of any adjustment period. It’s up to supply chain managers to incorporate flexibility into their supply chain sustainability plans. This is so that they can make changes to their chains without being disruptive. Moreover, it’s through constant review that companies can establish best practices while discarding or adjusting the practices that don’t work.


From meeting consumer demands to building credible and corporately responsible brands, Supply Chain Sustainability (SCS) is integral to an organizations success.

In addition to achieving transparency, flexibility and speed, supply chains must also consider sustainability as a top priority. SCS encompasses the economic, social, legal and most importantly, environmental features of a supply chain. It helps reduce an organization’s carbon footprint, and also ‘builds brand awareness, mitigates risk and develops long-term profit opportunities’.

As Omni-channel transportation relies on a variety of transportation methods that release emissions, skeptics may argue that it’s very challenging for a holistic supply chain model. However, statistically “almost 90% of CEOs believe that sustainability is important to their companies success.”

This eBook by Morai Logistics, takes a comprehensive look at supply chains sustainability and identifies the benefits it provides organizations.

Integrating Sustainability Into Logistics and Supply Chain


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Over the last decade, consumers, shareholders, investors and nonprofit’s have become increasingly concerned about supply chain sustainability. Several high-profile disasters and the acceleration of global climate change has made sustainability a priority for many.

National governments and international governing bodies are also showing their support. The United Nation’s (UN) 2013 Global Corporate Sustainability Report looked at the “actions taken by companies around the world to embed responsible practices into their strategies, operations and culture.” The largest effort to date is the Paris Agreement, or Paris Accord.

The UN agreement had 195 countries sign it in December 2015. Member countries agreed that global warming is a threat and pledged to stop global surface temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius. Experts warn that if temperatures go over 2 degrees Celsius, it would lead to catastrophic and irreversible consequences for the environment.

Unfortunately, the US pulled out of the agreement in 2017. The White House stating that such an agreement hurts their nation’s economy and sovereignty. While this action has been discouraging, many businesses have been doing their part to continue to further sustainability efforts.

In this e-book, we’ll be exploring sustainability best practices for two key areas of a supply chain, warehouse and distribution, and transportation.

Sustainable Supply Chain Best Practices


A misconception among many businesses is that they need to be big to adopt a sustainable model. While its true companies like McDonald’s, L’Oréal and Apple are all spending millions to billions on green technology, that doesn’t mean everyone must.

Smaller supply chains can take gradual steps towards building a more socially, economically and environmentally aware supply chain. Beginning the process is as easy as mapping the existing supply network, identifying inefficiencies and eliminating them. A simple packaging change or better recycling process are examples. Every business has ways to run quicker, cleaner and better.
As writer Gabrielle M. Blue put it:

Building a sustainable company is a task that must be taken on from all sides. The collective and collaborative efforts of the supply chain industry, with the support from the government, is crucial.

What happens to the environment affects everyone, which is why we all need to do our part to protect it.

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While modern companies focus on providing exceptional service, Nintendo continues to focus on extraordinary products with a Customer-Centric approach.

In our last post, we began exploring the reasons behind Nintendo’s history of not meeting consumer demand. Many of its gaming consoles, software, peripherals and promotional items in the last 20 years have seen instances of scarcity across its North American and European markets. Limited supply, inflated grey market prices, and angry consumers have been the result.

Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch, launched a few months ago with similar supply shortages. Some customers and press accused the company of intentionally limiting production to drive sales given the familiarity of the situation.

What’s behind the latest supply issues is the company’s customer-centric philosophy, not artificial scarcity.

Artificial Scarcity Isn’t the Problem

On the surface, Nintendo’s selling practices may seem to favour artificial scarcity to drive sales. The problem with this theory, is that artificial scarcity is only ever a short-term solution for luxury products. Artificial scarcity only generates demand because of perceived scarcity. The actual value of the product isn’t considered, meaning that the company doing it has little incentive to innovate the product. After a certain point, and despite a company’s attempts, there will be too much of a product in circulation for it to maintain its price.

Nintendo is a nearly 140-year-old multi-national company, iconic and influential in its industry. If it followed the same strategy as the former Beanie Baby empire, it would’ve folded decades ago.

The ‘problem’ with Nintendo’s management and supply chain strategies, is that they’re very customer-centric.

Customer-Centric: An Old but Effective Model for Nintendo

Newcomers like Amazon, Uber and PayPal have been disruptive to many industries. However, their biggest contribution is the latest trend of customer-focused strategies. Many companies are now trying to streamline their services to better improve the customer experience.

Ken Ramoutar of Avanade Insights, highlights what a customer-centric focus involves:

  • Anticipate your future needs looking at behavioural patterns, market trends, leveraging data from inside and outside the organization
  • A unique and memorable experience; seamless across your interaction channels
  • Analytics to inspect call logs and problem reports to feed changes in supply and production

None of these describe Nintendo’s business practices or product design philosophy. In fact, the company is notorious for being especially conservative in an industry that’s in constant flux.

Nintendo and Unique Gaming Experiences

Nintendo’s focus throughout its long history, is on creating products that provide a unique experience in and of themselves. Unlike its past (Sega) and current competitors (Sony and Microsoft), the company never bothered to chase the latest technological, marketing or business trends. This historically had both good and bad results for the company at different points in its history. However, it has allowed it to remain strong in the face of ever ballooning industry costs. Sony and Microsoft may have millions of dollars to throw behind their development and marketing strategies, but Nintendo has its Blue Ocean Strategy.

That’s it for this week’s post. In the final entry of this three-part series, we’ll describe how Nintendo’s Blue Ocean Strategy and customer-centric approach has led it to continue to be a dominating force within its industry.

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Shipping containers are great for transportation, but did you know they can also fulfill an important construction role?

If there’s an item synonymous with shipping, its shipping containers. Whether they are moved through land, air or sea, shipping containers play a crucial role in supply chains. In 2014 alone, the number of these containers moved globally was estimated at 560 million. That’s around 1.5 billion tons of cargo moved all together according to science magazine Nautilus.

There is one not so little problem however. With the increasing complexity and growing level of global integration of supply chains, their numbers keep increasing. Because of the demands of frequent travel, each is built to last. So, what do you with the ones that need to be retired?

Fast Facts About Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are an industry staple, they can carry anything from clothes to cell phones. Key commodities like petroleum, coal and various metals are regularly occupy these containers when they need to be shipped.

Some interesting trivia from Billie Box shows how ubiquitous shipping containers have become for transportation.

  • The life of a shipping container can last between 18-25 years provided it’s well-maintained.
  • A standard 20′ shipping container can hold 1,170 cubic feet and the max gross weight is 30T with a tare weight of 2.2T. A 40′ high cube contains 2,700 cubic feet and the max gross weight is 32.5T with a tare weight of 3.8T.
  • 95% of the world’s cargo is moved by ship.
  • Around 10,000 containers are estimated to be lost at sea annually. Of this number, many incur damage from waves and sink quickly. The problem is when they float just below the surface of the water. When this happens, they pose a danger to sailing vessels.

Repurposing Old Shipping Containers


Photo Credit: Noah Sheldon/The Wall Street Journal

Many used containers are finding a new purpose as building materials this Wall Street Journal article explains. Shipping container architecture, also referred to as ‘cargotecture’ or ‘arkitainer’, is growing in popularity, showing up in restaurants, homes, theme parks and even prison cells.

According to the article, about 1 million containers are sold annually for inland use. 70 thousand containers were sold by Maersk Like alone. That number is double what it was in 2015.

Industry leaders cited in the article claim that building with containers can be 20% cheaper and 40% faster than using traditional building materials. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean all the buildings in your neighbourhood will be replaced any time soon. Costa Paris writes:

Containers must be cut when stacked to widen the living space or to create windows and doors, and need to be insulated from the inside and reinforced with steel beams in multistory structures. And after they are put together, conversions or expansions are difficult and expensive

Shipping containers won’t replace traditional building materials, but they are filling an important niche. As supply chains become more complex, the number of containers that need to be retired will also grow. Thankfully, across the world they are providing alternative housing, storage and venue solutions.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.


On Tuesday, Denmark’s Maersk Tankers announced that it will begin testing the use of special sails, developed by Norsepower, on one of it’s oil tankers. If the technology proves promising, the company could go onto to add them to a further four dozen ships, bringing back wind power to shipping.

It isn’t just any old sails that the company will be testing. These sails are special “rotor-sails”, which measure nearly 100 feet tall and look like giant rotating cylinders.

This is the latest attempt by the shipping industry to reduce its reliance on fuel and create a sustainable alternative. What makes Maersk’s test different is that the 245—meter tanker will be the biggest object to-date moved with wind power.

Future Cost of Fuel Driving Innovation and Revisiting Wind Power

For the last few years, shipping companies have been trying to find ways to cut marine fuel use. This is because as of 2020, new pollution laws will take effect which will require the use of more expensive, lower sulfate fuel for shippers.

Cargill Inc. for example, is exploring the possibility of using a giant kite made of special fibers to tow a vessel with wind power. Solar powered sails are another avenue of renewable energy being looked into by several different companies to combine both wind and solar energy.

Technology Details

The basis for Maersk’s innovative technology isn’t new. The sails are an updated version of the rotor created by German engineer Anton Flettner, almost a hundred years ago. At the time, they were too heavy to be effective. Thankfully, these new sails are made from lightweight carbon-composite materials making them much more cost-effective.

This article by the Financial Times, quotes Norsepower’s CEO Tumoas Riski about how the sails work:

They harness the wind by using the Magnus effect, the physical force that makes a tennis ball swerve when hit with topspin. A motor sets the cylinders spinning and when wind blows, the airflow speeds up on one side of the sail and slows down on the opposite to create a pressure difference that generates lift, propelling the vessel through the water.

The sails have already been tested and installed on a Dutch shipping ferry in 2014. Bore, the company operating the ferry, reported that the results exceeded expectations with up to 6% fuel saved when there’s good wind.

What to Expect in the Future

The final decision as to whether Maesk Tankers will roll out the wind powered tankers won’t be made until 2019.

However, the company’s is very optimistic about how technology will cut fuel costs. About $2.1 billion U.S is spent annually on marine fuel. Maesk expects that price could be cut by 10% with the new sails.

Maesk is also hedging it’s bet on the sails by investing in other sustainable alternatives. This includes special paints that go on the hull of a vessel that reduces drag by resisting microorganism and ale colonization. And, specialized delivery drones to replace barges to deliver ship supplies.

It’s both strange and heartening to see wind powered propulsion make a return to shipping after its over 100-year absence. Modern innovations technological advancements have made Maesk’s sails, and similar projects possible sustainable solutions to an industry that needs them.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.


Transparency has been the promise of many CEOs and businesses in recent years. That’s for good reason, customers want to know where the products and the parts came from.

“Consumers, governments, and companies are demanding details about the systems and sources that deliver the goods. They worry about quality, safety, ethics, and environmental impact” writes University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School professor Steve New, in the Harvard Business Review.

However, ethics isn’t the only reason that a logistics provider should commit to a transparent supply chain. The benefits of transparency affect consumers, but it also has a positive impact on how a company does business and the operation of the company itself.

Infographic: How Improving Transparency is Beneficial to Your Supply Chain


Several studies indicate that transparency is an asset. What many don’t realize is that it goes beyond marketing. Transparency helps your business on three levels: with consumers, with business, and with every day operations.

Making a supply chain entirely transparent takes work and commitment. However, the result is a net benefit for all involved.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.


Canada’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate is set to affect intermodal transportation favourably in rates, fuel prices and capacity. This is based on the Intermodal Competitive Index (ICI) of the freight transportation forecasting firm FTR.

Earlier this week, the condition of intermodal versus truck was described as ‘moderately favourable’ according to freight transportation forecasting firm FTR. Their Intermodal Competitive Index (ICI) showed a slight increase in November to a level of 5.0.

The ICI looks compares North American intermodal sector and over-the-road trucking. A negative number indicates conditions are unfavourable. The higher the positive number, the better the favourability for the intermodal sector. Factors affecting the level are intermodal rates, fuel prices and truck capacity.

Despite the current state, FTR predicts that the ICI may deteriorate soon because of normal seasonal factors. Thankfully, the ICI is anticipated to start rising again until the end of the year. The rise will be due to the truck Electronic Logging Device (ELD) federal mandate.

“While the new administration’s more restrained philosophy with regard to regulation may have some eventual downstream effects on the trucking environment, we believe that the ELD regulation, which has already been formalized into law, will not be recalled…[]..While the extent and precise timing of the capacity effects of the ELD mandate are open to debate, there seems to be little doubt that its capacity effects will result in some tightening of truck availability which should work to the benefit of intermodal” said Larry Gross, Partner at FTR and principal author of its Intermodal Update, in a statement.

Canada Soon to Implement ELD Mandate

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is expected to have a final rule on its own ELD mandate early this year. A Canadian compliance date will likely occur for early next year.

The mandate received a lot of enthusiasm from the CCMTA as discussions about implementing a ELD mandate in Canada has been ongoing for nearly ten years.

“Though safety and consistency with U.S. guidelines were primary factors behind the change, Canada’s ELD mandate was also motivated by financial considerations as its trucking industry hopes to compete with U.S. carriers who have seen the economic benefit of using electronic logging devices” writes Keep Truckin, a blog about fleet management.

“Canadian fleets who implement and train drivers on ELDs well before the 2018 deadline will be more competitive with U.S. fleets already reaping the benefits, including fewer hours-of-service and form and manner violations and improved Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores.”

Although the Canadian ELD mandate will be a year behind it’s American counterpart, the decision is the right step to improve competitiveness. A high volume of trade is conducted between Canada and the U.S. In fact, the two countries trade around trade $662 billion worth of goods and services with one another annually.

What the ELD Mandate Will Mean for American and Canadian Fleets

Having ELDs be the standard will benefit fleets in a few different ways. For one, the amount of paperwork will be greatly reduced. Secondly, dispatchers will be kept up-to-date with the condition of the drivers, helping them with planning better loads. Thirdly, it will eliminate paper logs and with that, the headache that comes with maintaining it.

The American ELD mandate is only 11 months away, but is already predicted to have a positive impact on the intermodal sector. Canada will follow suit next year. Fleets in both countries will benefit in regards to increased safety, planning and efficiency. The North American Intermodal sector has a lot to look forward this year and the next.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.