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2022: What are the logistics and supply chain trends

The supply chain and logistics key trends from 2021 are set to continue into 2022. But, according to Exporta, the UK’s product handling experts, there are new opportunities and challenges for the year ahead.

“We know the challenges of 2020 continued into 2021 for many, and the logistics and supply chain industries were no different. Whether it was increased consumer demand, the impact of Brexit, materials shortages, or disruptions to the global shipping networks (looking at you Suez Canal), it was a year that tested everyone’s resilience. So, looking ahead to next year here are our predictions for the logistics and supply chain world,” said John Wilkin – Supply Chain Manager Exporta.

Exporta highlights six key areas.

1. Eco Matters

Not new for 2022, but since the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the difference we, as individuals and businesses, need to make to help the future of our planet has been reinforced. A more eco-conscious and sustainable approach is an even bigger focus in 2022. This will shape a lot of the trends we explore here.

Exporta is committed to achieving the ISO14001 accreditation every year, so customers can have confidence that as a supplier, we are practicing environmental care as part of our everyday working lives.

Exporta has also introduced a range of initiatives to make meeting your sustainability goals easier. 98% of all pallets are made from recycled materials and can be recycled at the end of their usable lifespan. Exporta introduced an ‘Eco-Grading System’ to help customers easily identify how eco-friendly your chosen product is.

Alongside this, they offer a recycling scheme and have pledged to ‘Plant a Tree’ for every new Business Plus account opened.

2. The Rise of Returnable Packaging

In line with sustainability goals, the demand for returnable packaging solutions will rise in 2022. Reusable, recyclable materials make returnable packaging an ideal solution for businesses looking to embrace a more eco-conscious quality product.

As well as being a more sustainable option, these products, i.e. the recyclable Plastic Pallets or Folding Crates, provide better security of goods and minimise damage in transit which provides long-term value. We all need to be thinking about the benefits of returnable packaging as a long-term, sustainable solution.

3. Together in Electric Fleets

According to Next Green Car, at the end of October 2021, there were more than 345,000 pure electric cars in the UK and a further 675,000 hybrids. The consumer demand is only going to get bigger, and the pressure on businesses to find electric or hybrid solutions is growing rapidly.

Over the past year, online and eCommerce-related deliveries have increased by 25%, resulting in an increase of vehicles on the delivery networks to keep up with demand. But the pressure on businesses to minimise their emissions is growing, and the move to more environmentally friendly solutions is mounting.

The UK has already introduced a cull on the purchase of new diesel and petrol HGVs, so is a future of fully electric fleets on the horizon? It seems likely. While it may not be as straightforward a transition as consumer-based vehicles, there is no doubt that electric vehicles alongside the correct infrastructure to support it are a necessity in the future.

FedEx has already introduced e-cargo bikes in three major UK cities, and Reuters reported that DB Schenker has ordered 1.5k electric trucks for use between European terminals and cities. We are confident that the future is electric.

4. The Future of Plastic

Sustainability isn’t usually associated with the word plastic. But you might be surprised by how much more environmentally friendly plastic is than wood.

Plastic Pallets are recyclable – and they’re often made from recycled materials, offering a much better lifetime value in comparison to other materials. Plastic is also more hygienic and as such, bypasses the ISMP15 regulation that was introduced at the start of 2021 due to Brexit, which required all wooden pallets being used to ship goods out of the UK to Europe to be heat treated. This caused a huge rise in demand for these pallets and saw shortages across the network. By using plastic, not only do you eliminate the need for the ISPM15 consideration but it’s also less likely to be impacted by the materials shortage and price rises seen relating to wooden products.

Some users may be concerned about the Plastic Packaging Tax which is coming into effect in April 2022. But if the pallets are made from more than 30% recycled plastics, as our eco-range is, then the tax will not apply.

5. The Robots are Coming

With the labour shortages seen across the sector and a rise in repetitive and chronic strains relating to the manual nature of warehouse jobs, alongside the boom in online buying habits, the need to introduce automation and robotics cannot be ignored. A recent Financial Times article looked at the rise in spending on warehouse machines and robots; Interact Analysis forecast that by 2025 investment is likely to be in excess of $3billion.

The acceleration of automation within the sector will see the need for racking and shelving and pallet compatible goods increase, something Exporta has been ready to support for some time. Robotics and Automation News explores three big predictions for 2022 in more detail, and by all accounts, the robots are coming, and are here to stay.

6. Onwards in Reverse Vending

Reverse Vending, something that’s already normal practice in many European countries, such as Norway, Finland and Germany, is slated to be introduced in Scotland next year. This is a scheme where consumers essentially pay a surcharge for single-use plastics, bottles, and get it back once they return their empties via a Reverse Vending retailer.

Reverse Vending is already being trialled in locations around Scotland and is due to go live in July 2022. The Deposit Return Scheme will see business and public interest peak in 2022, specifically in how it works and the logistical requirements. Any retailer that sells drinks will have a legal requirement to accept returns for recycling, so we’re confident there will be an increase in demand for products such as containers and bins to facilitate the storage and handling of the scheme.

The rest of the UK is set to follow, so we are likely to see this as a talking point well into 2023.

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