Question: In efforts to make my business more energy efficient, I’m interested in knowing more about sustainable supply chains. How difficult is the transition?

Answer: It’s true, sustainability can be maximized throughout the supply chain and it’s both good for your business and the environment if it’s practiced. To get your business at an optimal state of energy efficiency and sustainability, it can only do good by taking a careful look at the bigger picture — and understanding how your entire process can come together in a sustainable fashion. And, of course, there are apps available for download!


With sustainability strategy, issues like water, energy and waste in a supply chain matter — and if handled responsibly, can add financial benefits of energy and resource efficiencies and give your company a great advantage in the business world.

Peter Senge, founder of Society for Organizational Learning and author of The Fifth Discipline explained how organizations must understand that they’re part of a larger system to Harvard Business Review.

Sustainability can be a very vague term and when it comes to business, it can be tossed around with distant meaning to what someone who takes their environmental initiatives seriously actually means.

Taking on accountability

In terms of perspective, it’s about seeing your business as a human community first and a money-making machine second, according to books like The Living Company.

Incorporating and promoting sustainability is what comes after actually implementing it in your supply chains initiatives.

“To confront these issues practically, you need employees who are innovative — who have the skill and the vision to redesign products, processes and business models — and who understand the business context,” Senge told Harvard Business Review, “Most important, they need to be able to tell a story about why this is a meaningful journey.”

Environmental Leader named Dell and BASF as companies who focused on their sustainable efforts in order to decrease the impact of the supply chain on future generations.

Making good management decisions

While it’s easier to satisfy present demands without considering long term affects, breaking down your supply chain and integrating sustainability in it is really the socially responsible and optimal method of business.

The good news is there are apps! GEMI (Global Environmental Management Initiative) is in the process of putting out a new online tool that focuses on supply chain sustainability, according to Environmental Leader.

The GEMI Supply Chain Tool will be a free, interactive tool that will cater to those who need help identifying “hot spot” processes or improvement opportunities so companies can organize their supply chain priorities.

With existing supply chain sustainability tools available like New Paths to Business Value and Forging New links, the new GEMI tool is generating quite the buzz as it’s intended to build on the existing tools as it offers a user friendly experience — working as a guide to sustainable procurement and sourcing.

Of course, it many cases, the sustainable supply chain changes start from the top. While you can make small changes to make your process more sustainable — it takes the commitment of the entire business, a thoughtful redesign of certain practices and an eye on the long term benefits to make the full transition.

For companies with energy efficient goals in mind, we have incentives.


Image credit: Walmart