At the recent Sustainable Purchasing and Supply Summit in London last week, the point was made that Lean production is really the first step toward Green production.

If your business is manufacturing, or even if it’s not, I’ll wager that you have heard of the Lean production principles. The concept is simple: Increase the bottom line by reducing waste of all kinds across all areas of the business. Optimize your processes and work smarter so that resources are only expended to provide value to your customers. Lean is the current king of manufacturing philosophies and is likely to remain that way for a long time to come.

At the Sustainable Purchasing and Supply Summit, in London last week, the point was made that Lean production is really the first step toward Green production. Reducing raw materials use, reducing the size (and thus the energy expenditure) of inventories, and minimizing waste be it in energy/resource use or reworking of faulty goods.

These are Lean principles – these are Green principles – these are ‘good-for-the-bottom-line’ principles

One of the challenges for purchasers in a Lean and Green business environment is to maintain the principles throughout the Supply chain. Procuring recycled or refurbished goods where possible, working with suppliers to ensure energy use (and price) improvements and taking a longer term view on cost-benefit analysis can all help steer your business down a truly sustainable and profitable path.

To learn more about sustainable supply-chain best practices, you are welcome to contact Dr AA Wade,


Tom Bowers

Tom is an environmental and life cycle analyst and a supply-management advocate. He believes that Purchasers are in a great position to deliver sustainability goals and objectives for all types of organization. He has worked for over 10 years in Policy and Research in government, the 3rd sector and private sector. More importantly, he has a wealth of ideas to share with the supply chain profession.