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Best Practices for “Greening the Supply Chain”

Posted by Deni Albrecht on Sep 20, 2012 12:27:00 PM

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In the endless pursuit of “Greening the Supply Chain,” a company should focus on using its own sustainable behavior to measure their suppliers.

Walmart is among the leaders in maintaining standards of its supply chain inputs and its outputs. Some time ago, completing a supplier questionnaire became Walmart policy. The information from it generated a unique supplier report card for Walmart to use to rank the sustainability efforts of suppliers. "Greening" abounded in its supply chain.

For instance, logistics improved because of a Walmart policy change reducing some product shelf space allotments. Reactively, laundry detergent manufacturers redesigned their product in a more concentrated formula and with a more eco-footprint, too. Without losing revenue, the detergent manufacturers made a sustainable business decision and “did the right thing” for the environment and their customer’s supply chain. Much of the benefit overflowed into the open market thanks to the sustainable suppliers.

When we politely insist on expectations of sustainability from our suppliers, we help the suppliers “do the right thing.” Collaborative change is what’s needed for us to turn the tide of the long-term consequences we face from years of poor practices.

Sustainable core business decisions develop from an understanding of basic applicable philosophies of sustainability. “Greening” missions embody these precepts in assessing supply chain inputs and outputs. They are:

  1. Realizing the contribution of efficiency – maximizing profitability & minimizing cost
  2. Assessing life cycle impacts of products – totaling lifetime cost
  3. Recognizing green products and services – greening the supply chain inputs and outputs, link by link
  4. Practical methods of conservation resulting in minimal carbon impacts associated with energy use – preserving the planet by using only what’s needed, beginning with knowing what’s needed
  5. Investing in society through corporate leadership and community engagement – giving back

Now let’s start greening…one link at a time.

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Deni Albrecht

Written by Deni Albrecht

Leader of Sustainability Engineering at Kenco