Sustainability and responsible practices have been gaining more and more popularity over the last years. They are especially popular in the sphere of business. Today, sustainable business making is embraced and by all large corporations who regularly emphasize and comment on their innovative approach towards waste, eco-friendly production, closed-loop supply chain and sustainable distribution.
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The importance of sustainability is often discussed within food and beverage, packaging and delivery, transportation and digital technology industries. Sustainability used to be ignored in the past as a costly practice, but the contemporary business makers have learned how to turn it into an advantage. Closed-loop supply chain focuses on the life cycle of a product and maximization of the created value (“The Evolution” 10).
The sustainability of closed-loop supply chains are in the integration of all activities and accurate management of operations (“The Challenge” 3). In my opinion, closed-loop supply chain does not create much value, yet, as shown by Guide and Van Wassenhove, it allows attracting two types of customers (those who purchase new product and the remanufacturing clients) and making a business profitable for a larger number of consumers (Business Aspects 19-23).
Collaboration contributes significantly to sustainable and responsible supply chain activities. For example, as discussed by Plambeck and Denend, in order to “green” its supply chain Wal-Mart collaborates with several environmental organizations and suppliers regarding seafood production (21). I noticed that this collaboration is also beneficial for the consumers who have become more interested in the way a product travels before getting to their tables.
To provide the consumers with such information many stores and restaurants have started to add the information about the sources of food products to the menus, labels and packaging. Responsibility does not only concern the relationships between the vendors and the consumers; it also includes the interactions between the suppliers and their peers. This is why fair trade movement has entered the world of business relations.
Fair trade has a goal to provide equal benefits for workers, farmers, advantages for the environment and for business makers (McKone-Sweet 51. Today there are more and more concerns about the changes within fair trade that start to be more money-oriented forcing smaller farms and producers out of the chain and including large plantations with doubtful approaches towards sustainability.
Another approach towards sustainability in business is based on the creation of lean supply chains. Such chains are focused on process optimization and the reduction of waste in operations and products (Vitasek et al. 40). In my opinion, the lean supply chain approach carries many positive aspects. I believe that if my organization adopted lean strategies this would reduce the rates of turnover and burnout among the employee, because the managers would start to treat workers as a valuable resource and engage in more responsible hiring and retention practices.
In conclusion, when it comes to my organization, the adoption green and sustainable supply chain activities would lead to massive re-organization of the whole business process, and this is why the leaders are reluctant to start such a huge change that needs to affect some of the core business practices. In general, I think that the responsible attitude towards sustainability among the contemporary businesses will result in a variety of positive effects such as preservation of natural resources, optimization of business practices and time management, collaboration and integration of all stages of the supply chain.
Guide, V. Daniel R., and Luk N. Van Wassenhove. Business Aspects of Closed-Loop Supply Chains. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2003. Print
Guide, V. Daniel R., and Luk N. Van Wassenhove. “OR FORUM—The Evolution Of Closed-Loop Supply Chain Research.” Operations Research 57.1 (2009): 10-18. Print.
Guide, V. Daniel R., Terry P. Harrison, and Luk N. Van Wassenhove. “The Challenge of Closed-Loop Supply Chains.” Interfaces 33.6 (2003): 3-6. Print.
McKone-Sweet, Kathleen E. “Lessons from a coffee supply chain.” Supply Chain Management Review 8.7 (2004): 52-50. Print.
Plambeck, E. and Lyn Denend. “The Greening of Wal-Mart’s Supply Chain.” Supply Chain Management Review 11.5 (2007): 18-25.
Vitasek, Kate, Karl B. Manrodt, and Jeff Abbott. What Makes a Lean Supply Chain. Supply Chain Management Review 10.1 (2005): 39-45.