How Source Tagging Can Help Improve Sustainability for Retailers

Earth Day 2020 on April 22 is marking the green holiday’s 50th anniversary. While many similar events have been forced to reschedule or cancel all together, the highly touted gold anniversary will instead be celebrated digitally for the first time ever.

With consumers now expecting more sustainable practices from their favorite brands, it’s more important than ever for retailers to focus on environmental stewardship and adopting environmentally friendly practices. And it’s not just a social obligation, it also makes good business sense. At Sensormatic Solutions, we consider protection of the environment a responsibility shared with our suppliers, retail customers, and shoppers—the ultimate beneficiaries of our products and services.

At the heart of our sustainability charge are our source tagging and recirculation programs. While the main business purpose of anti-theft tags is to help retailers protect their most sought-after products, our source tagging and recirculation program is unparalleled when it comes to helping retailers reduce resource consumption, emissions, and waste.

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The Business and Environmental Benefits of Source Tagging

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In 2010, we recognized that hard tags—and others—didn’t need to be disposable or simply recycled, but instead could be reused to provide the ultimate environmental and operational benefits. To do this, we created our global recirculation and source-tagging initiative program where hard tags are applied at the manufacturing source and then fully recirculated back through the supply chain from the retail store.

Encompassing source application of electronic article surveillance (EAS) disposable labels, as well as recirculated acousto-magnetic (AM) EAS and RFID hard tags, the program combines the recirculation advantages of hard tags with the business benefits of source tagging. Products arrive in stores already protected against theft and ready for sale. Tags are also consistently placed on garments, improving store aesthetics, and speeding the tag removal process.

Returning tags to the source using established shipping routes and containers is by far the most energy-efficient way to transport goods over long distances. For instance, CO2 emissions associated with container shipping range from 10 – 40 grams per metric ton per kilometer is about 1/10 of emissions generated per ton of air freight. Using an established reverse logistics process, tags can be reapplied multiple times at the garment manufacturing location further eliminating waste and costs.

Since the service was launched, we have saved over 35 million pounds of plastic, versus programs with single-use tags. With over 11 billion tags recirculated to date, source tagging is a trusted program for retailers worldwide as the work to remain competitive and green in today’s retail environment.

The Benefits of Sustainability Outweigh the Costs

Of course, there are transition costs between old, resource-intensive technologies and processes and our new low-impact solutions—but they are short-term. Over the long run, lower rates of resource and energy consumption deliver lower costs and sustainable competitive advantages for retailers. After all, when a company meets its environmental responsibilities, it conserves materials, reduces waste, and optimizes its supply and distribution channels for efficiency. Environmentally responsible business is simply good business—a win-win-win proposition for the company, its suppliers, and the environment.

For more information on Sensormatic Solutions environmentally-friendly solutions, visit our website here. 

About the Author

Michelle Brown
Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown is the head of the Global Source Tagging organization for Sensormatic Solutions, the leading global retail solutions portfolio of Johnson Controls enabling smart and connected shopper engagement. Her team of merchandise protection professionals create and deliver measureable value to source tagging customers by delivering on the “Sales Up. Shrink Down. Cost Out” value proposition. Previously, Michelle led global customer-facing teams focused on the creation and execution of revenue generation, customer retention and customer experience programs for Fortune 100 customers.

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