Supply chains are going green worldwide


green supply chainGlobal companies are under pressure from governments and industry regulators to tighten up standards to make operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. In light of increased awareness and alarm surrounding climate change and the effects of pollution, many supply chains hope to reduce their carbon footprint by implementing cleaner, more resourceful policies.

New standards arise
Mother Nature Network reported some companies are opting to work with more eco-friendly suppliers, reduce emissions throughout the supply chain or implement different distribution practices to reduce logistics-related emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership is working with manufacturers to identify strategies to reduce energy consumption and minimize environmental impacts across major supply chains.

Supply chain management solutions are particularly important in the current regulatory environment, as they can help global industries working toward greener objectives ensure all partners satisfy customer demands and governmental requirements. Many companies are reducing emissions or tightening safety protocol and can use supply chain management to measure successful deployment of new requirements throughout operations.

Apple removes pollutants
Technology giant Apple recently opted to eliminate significant levels of toxic pollutants being released by its suppliers after receiving pressure from environmental groups and activists around the world. NBC News reported Apple has only started to make its supply chain operations more green, working with agencies such as the Natural Resource Defense Council and the Institute of Public and Environment Affairs in China to identify what aspects of supply chain management can be cleaned up throughout Apple operations.

The most common toxic aspect of the supply chain of Apple and other technology providers is the manufacturing of basic components such as circuit boards. These items contaminate the land, water and air by releasing toxic metals, solvents and other organic pollutants into the environment and create threats to human health. Apple's suppliers take care of the creation and distribution of these components, making it a priority to create green policies that transcend from the hiring company to all suppliers. Apple was reluctant to acknowledge the science behind the environmental group's claims of toxic pollutants in its supply chain. But after persistent pressure from agencies and activists has pushed Apple to take action.

The IPE and NRDC have scoured Apple suppliers' operations to find each aspect of unhealthy practices, providing greener solutions to keep the company functioning but leaving a smaller carbon footprint. For example, the agencies revealed a supplier was improperly disposing of wastewater into storm drains that detoured contaminants of sediments into a community lake. The supplier was confronted and has installed new pipes to separate wastewater from storm water that is led to the lake.  Apple is devising discharge standards for contaminants that are not regulated by its suppliers, along with increased reporting and monitoring of the standards throughout the supply chain. After identifying what changes must be made in the supply chain, companies can use supply chain management solutions to track performance metrics based on new policies and standards. Environmental agencies hope if Apple creates stronger requirements in its supply chain, smaller companies will follow suit.

Ikea ups spending on renewable energy
The largest furniture retailer in the world, Ikea Group, recently announced it will double its investment in renewable energy from $2 billion to $4 billion by 2020 in an effort to reduce costs and make product prices more affordable to struggling consumers worldwide. The additional expenditures will be used to support green projects such as wind farms and solar parks, helping lower energy costs while maintaining a steady growth pace throughout the supply chain. While some of the investments will be used to specifically fuel certain aspects of operations, the efforts to go green will trickle down through the entire supply chain with the use of management tools and increased communication.

The Los Angeles Times reported Ikea expects to generate all of its energy for its stores through subcontractors from renewable sources by 2020, already having purchased 250,000 solar panels and 126 wind turbines, making up 34 percent of its energy consumption.

As global demands push toward increased supply chain responsibility and sustainability, many enterprises are launching environmentally-friendly policies that will send ripple effects throughout operations. Supply chain management solutions help executives monitor performance and activities in all departments and branches, ensuring policies and regulations are carried out enterprise-wide for fast changes, consistent compliance and adherence to company standards.

The smarter (green) supply chain of the future starts here: