Today, customers and businesses across industry sectors want to support the circular economy: a “green” economy that prioritizes sustainability, conservation and efficiency initiatives. The chemical industry is committed to promoting these efforts, and Datacor ERP can help customers establish best practices and business processes that reduce their footprint and maximize the lifetime of key resources. In this post, we’ll show you how.
What is the circular economy?
The circular economy is one that prioritizes sustainability, conservation, efficiency and other “green” initiatives. This includes recycling, reuse, recovery, resource conservation, energy efficiency and green design innovations that maximize the value and lifespans of products and materials.
The chemical industry is particularly committed to conservation and cleanup efforts that promote the circular economy, as well as to finding chemistry-based solutions to key sustainability challenges. Many companies are also taking the initiative to reduce waste and improve efficiencies from an operational standpoint.
Better living through chemistry
Associations, companies and customers throughout the chemical industry are supporting the circular economy and promoting sustainability in a number of ways.
One major initiative chemical manufacturers and distributors have undertaken is a commitment to reducing single-use plastics, such as packaging and containers, that end up in landfills and pollute waterways. There is actually tremendous value in these products once viewed as “waste” for making new materials and in reuse or repurposing.
Chemical companies are also focusing on designing products and selecting materials with a goal of improving durability, extending product life and repurposing components in a useful way. Meanwhile, they are applying systems-based approaches and lifecycle accounting—which evaluates the environmental impact at each stage of a product’s life—to adopt and investigate products and technologies that reduce waste and resource utilization across the supply chain, from design to disposal.
For example, members of the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) have committed to partial upgrades to energy-efficient bulbs, devices and equipment; programmable, automatic thermostats; water-efficient sprinklers and fixtures; solar panel installations; and other initiatives.
Members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have implemented chemical recycling technologies, such as converting discarded plastic materials and used polystyrene products to feedstock for creating new, recyclable materials.
How can Datacor help?
Datacor is among those leading the charge toward a stronger circular economy. Here are some of the ways our software helps chemical manufacturing and distribution companies improve sustainability:
Reusable containers. The Datacor ERP helps customers easily sell their products in returnable, reusable containers. Instead of shipping out a product in a drum that gets dumped in a landfill when it's empty, the customer ships it in a returnable drum with a deposit on it, which incentivizes the customer to return it. There are tools within the software to track all the charges associated with these containers, including accounting, deposits, how many drums a customer has, how many they’ll be picking up.
Datacor can track the charges and lifecycle for a number of different containers, including:
- Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs)
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO) containers
Through integrations with container tracking software TrackAbout, customers can track returnable containers by serial number using their mobile and handheld devices. By reusing their containers, customers can reduce their impact on landfills.
Truck transportation tracking. When using returnable containers, trucks pick up and drop off containers at the same time. Datacor’s truck transportation module helps companies organize and optimize delivery routes for greater efficiency—promoting conservation and sustainability in more ways than one.
Similarly, these tools allow customers to track reusable containers when receiving deliveries from suppliers as well as when returning them.
Zero-waste chemical manufacturing. To promote sustainability, Datacor offers tools for closed-loop, zero-waste chemical manufacturing: this means every input and output is accounted for and fully utilized throughout the manufacturing process in order to eliminate waste. The system offers a rework infrastructure that allows users to take off-spec material that doesn’t meet quality standards and work it into new products a little bit at a time.
Some manufacturing processes produce multiple finished goods. These may be in the form of products that can be sold or products that need to be recycled. For example, if a customer is manufacturing decaf coffee, the caffeine that is extracted and the coffee itself are each viable products that can be sold, and the software can track these products and their value throughout the lifecycle.
When waste is produced, Datacor can track the byproducts, too—storing them in inventory and ensuring that they are properly disposed of when the time comes.
‘Green’ certifications. In the global supply chain, companies of all sizes, including Fortune 100 retailers such as Walmart, want to advertise their products as “green” or “sustainable” to appeal to eco-conscious buyers. Datacor offers functionality for creating certifications that apply to customers or suppliers, denoting whether they source and deliver sustainable products.
The software can even set rules to limit or prohibit the purchase of materials from, or sales of products to, companies that are not certified. This allows chemical manufacturers and distributors to report to their customers that, for example, 85% of the time, they buy from suppliers that have a sustainability process in place or sell to customers that prioritize green initiatives.
Digitizing operations. One major way companies can support sustainability is by digitizing their operations. Datacor ERP software reduces paper waste by automating key operational tasks and bringing them online, including:
- Electronic invoicing. Email invoices directly to customers rather than printing and sending them through the mail.
- Customer portal. Deliver a scalable, personalized customer experience with 24/7 access to customer-specific order data; product information and specifications; online safety data sheets (SDSs); and the ability to accept orders online.
- Supplier e-payments. Eliminate the need to sign and mail paper checks by paying vendors directly through Datacor ERP.
- Electronic batch tickets. Reduce the use of paper batch tickets by entering components and finished goods directly into the electronic batch ticketing module using a mobile device. This improves accuracy, traceability and auditing.
- Electronic Payments. Streamlined credit card and ACH payment processing reduces paperwork by allowing customers to pay online, reducing the time it takes to process cash and eliminates paper waste.
The little things. When it comes to conservation, every little thing counts. As a company, Datacor is committed to methods, tools and measures that promote sustainability. That includes using tablets instead of paper to record information whenever possible, as well as using electronic billing, invoicing and change information instead of paper mailing.
Is your company ready to support the circular economy? Sign up for an interactive demo of Datacor ERP today.