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What does ‘sustainable supply chain’ mean?

No, it's not just a buzz phrase ““ it's something that can promote or disintegrate the relationship that customers have with businesses, and businesses have with suppliers. Take just one of the examples provided by Clint Williams in this post: Mattel used tropical hardwood pulp for its packaging of toys. This lead to a protest by Greenpeace against the company, and a shift by Mattel to develop a “sustainable procurement policy for all of Mattel's product lines which will address the important issue of deforestation.” Consider also the actions of Coca-Cola. The worldwide supply chain masters in that company determined the best way to reduce the amount of water they used in the creation of their product, which lead to some surprise results: Key to establishing a sustainable supply chain “is to understand the larger system you're in,” Peter Senge says in an interview with Harvard Business Review. Senge, the founder of the Society for Organizational Learning and the author of “The Necessary Revolution,” cites the example of Coca-Cola. The soft-drink giant was taking steps to reduce water use in manufacturing from three liters per bottle to 2.5 liters. While taking steps to reduce water use in manufacturing, the soft-drink giant discovered that the greatest water use was in growing the sugar used to make Coke. Coca-Cola, Senge recalls, worked with the World Wildlife Fund to analyze the water footprint of Coke, prompting a shift from flood-irrigated sugarcane to drip-irrigated sugarcane. Other companies like UPS and Walmart have likewise taken up positions where either they directly reduce the impact on the environment or require their suppliers to do the same. The environment of sustainable supply chains isn't just a fad ““ it's a future way of business.

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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