Supply Chain Sustainability Predictions for 2018

Author: Rene Garcia


Sustainability in supply chains has been growing in the public consciousness for several years. Driven by widespread media attention to devastating natural disasters, consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and are holding companies to account, expecting a measure of corporate responsibility. As a result, organizations are devoting resources to advertise not only how they are protecting the environment, but also how they are protecting their workforce, which ultimately protects their bottom line to investors.

Sustainability has grown so much in popularity that it became a deciding factor in which city hosted the Summer Olympics in 2024. The Los Angeles bid committee worked with Sustainability Director, Brence Culp, while the Paris bid committee is quoted as saying, “For us it is quite simple. Our vision is the most sustainable Games ever.” It’s obvious that there is an appetite for sustainability wherever it can fit. How will supply chains respond to this in the near future?

The Future of Sustainability in Supply Chains

Cathy Morrow Roberson, Founder and Head Analyst for Logistics Trends & Insights, believes that sustainability in supply chains will continue to grow in 2018. She states, “More logistics providers that are asset-based, for example, are taking sustainability into consideration when purchasing transportation. Fuel savings is typically the biggest goal but environmental responsibility is also a growing goal.”

Focusing mainly on large-scale deliverers, Roberson sees these companies turning to alternative energy vehicles for specific use cases. “As more inner-city deliveries are made,” she states, “FedEx, UPS, DHL and other delivery providers are parking their gas guzzling vans and instead are turning towards electric vehicles, boats and bicycles.”

Roberson also sees an emphasis on reusable packaging. “DHL, FedEx and UPS all offer reusable packaging but more is needed. In addition, a change in customer mindset needs to occur as well – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

“There are no signs that the push for environmental sustainability is slowing down,” says Jon Slangerup, President and CEO of American Global Logistics. He believes that technology, like cleaner ships, trains, and plans, is driving an ongoing “greening” of the supply chain. He also credits national and regional policies for green compliance.

“As examples, the recent announcement by the Long Beach/Los Angeles port complex adoption of their last joint Clean Air Action Plan commits a billion dollars to increased on-dock rail infrastructure that will dramatically cut local truck trips and road congestion. Meanwhile, the Chinese central government is mandating the cleanup or shutdown of industrial infrastructure, including the country's major ports and manufacturing centers.”

Slangerup ends by making a remark about software, stating, “And not least, the headlong push into supply chain software solutions is eliminating efficiencies and congestion that directly reduces energy and fossil fuel consumption.” This is an important observation because supply chain management software can help address more than just environmental safety, but also worker safety, compliance, and overall supply chain risk.

Are your Suppliers Following Sustainable Business Practices?

In the pursuit of sustainable growth, organizations must extend their commitment to responsible business practices into their supply chains.

Avetta is proud to support our customers on their journey to sustainability. We help them to manage environmental, social, and economic impacts and grow long-term value throughout the supply chain through prequalification, document management, auditing, employee-level qualification and training, insurance verification, and business intelligence.

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