Creating A Sustainable Supply Chain

Although many in the industry have fully embraced the principles of sustainability, there are myriad logistics and supply chain professionals and decision-makers who have been reluctant to do so. Whether they are unconvinced that the efforts involved in becoming more sustainable are worth it for their bottom line or they’re unsure of the necessity from an environmental standpoint, these professionals are ignoring an important fact about green supply chain management: At its core, the principles of creating a green supply chain are all about reducing waste and improving efficiency. Isn’t every supply chain professional concerned with improving efficiency and eliminating waste? An efficient supply chain is an effective supply chain. Many of the principles of building a green supply chain make perfect sense from a supply chain optimization perspective — even without considering the ecological angle.

Once you think about that perspective, sustainability becomes something a logistics or supply chain company embraces — not just to score PR points and help the environment. It’s also a significant competitive advantage. Further, building a more sustainable supply chain isn’t a matter of saving a few pennies here and there. Considering that the supply chain accounts for up to 70 percent of total expenses and greenhouse gas emissions for many manufacturing companies, it’s clear that there are significant opportunities for greater efficiency through implementing environmental sustainability programs within the supply chain.

Many supply chain and logistics professionals may start to get cold feet when thinking about the scope of implementing sustainability programs into their operations. Yet the truth is, implementing a sustainability program can be easier than it appears. There is a wealth of resources available to supply chain and logistics organizations today aimed at improving sustainability and efficiency. For example, technology has made it easy in many ways for supply chain and logistics organizations to measure and monitor their sustainability efforts. Onboard computers can monitor drivers’ habits and generate reports that detail how efficient their driving behavior is. Special software platforms also can measure carbon emissions across an organization and suggest strategies for reducing those emissions.

Bringing more sustainability into a supply chain or logistics organization can involve changes both big and small. Even something as simple as changing lighting fixtures in a warehouse to energy-efficient LED lights can significantly impact a company’s environmental footprint. Converting a fleet to compressed natural gas or biodiesel rather than relying on traditional fuels is a big step by comparison — but one that can return significant dividends in terms of reducing fuel costs and emissions.

A majority of the supply chain and logistics industry already has made sustainability front and center, but there’s always more that can be done. Whether your organization has been reluctant to embrace sustainability or it is looking for new ways to do so, creating a more sustainable supply chain does more than help the environment — it can improve your organization’s efficiency and competitiveness. The accompanying guide details some of the ways supply chain and logistics organizations can become more sustainable.

Creating A Sustainable Supply Chain infographic

Creating A Sustainble Supply Chain was created by Hub Group

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