Sustainable supply chain management

The alarming condition of the environment is pushing companies across all sectors to change the way they do business to make it more eco-friendly. This follows not just from the sense of social responsibility or from changing regulations, but also from the greater awareness of consumers. We explain what sustainable supply chain management is about and why it matters so much!

What is sustainable supply chain management?

According to the definition provided by UN Global Compact and Business for Social Responsibility, supply chain sustainability means “the management of environmental, social and economic impacts, and the encouragement of good governance practices, throughout the lifecycles of goods and services”.[1]

The essence of supply chain sustainability is to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of the product: from sourcing the raw materials to their disposal. When choosing products, more and more consumers consider the conditions in which they were produced and how they have made it to the shelf. Over the recent years, issues related to ecology and ethics (mostly with regard to respecting human rights) have been taking centre stage.

The TSL industry has a great impact on the current condition of the environment. Half of the greenhouse gas emissions are generated by transport. However, it is not easy to implement changes in supply chains, which are often very long and may span many countries, also developing ones.

Why is it worth introducing sustainable supply chain management?

Sustainable supply chain management in its social, economic, and environmental aspects allows you to adapt to the current regulatory requirements and market trends. In addition, it meets the social obligations, which helps build a favourable image and gain the trust of consumers and business partners.

But most importantly, apart from fighting for a better future for the next generations, such an approach also means taking care about our comfort of living today, with some of the climate change impact being felt already now – think air pollution and smog.

Environmentally responsible management in the supply chain mitigates the risk and allows you to offer goods and services in line with the strictest standards that meet market requirements and clients’ expectations. Additionally, it may help reduce operating costs and boost real profits.

What is sustainable supply chain management in practice?

Sustainable supply chain management should be an attempt at developing comprehensive standards for all actors involved. First and foremost, it consists in monitoring the actual impact of the existing chain on the environment, and finding areas where change is needed.

In the TSL industry, the following are becoming more and more common:

  • reverse logistics (re-introducing used products back into the supply chain – recycling and upcycling);
  • investing in renewable transport (electric vehicles);
  • reducing carbon emissions (which includes better transit planning);
  • eco-friendly packaging (recycled and biodegradable materials);
  • digitising formalities (reducing paper usage),
  • using modern IT tools (e.g. using AI to plan better routes, automation software for formalities).

Implementing sustainable management is an advanced multi-stage procedure, yet it brings benefits not only for the environment but also for the entire enterprise. It encourages growth, which helps generate savings and streamline many processes. Finally, the company gets to be recognised as more responsible, modern, and trustworthy.



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