GREEN WATCH Jun 17, 2016 No Comments

This is the first article discussing the results of our ongoing survey examining what Supply-Chain professionals in North America are thinking and (more importantly) doing about greening their supply-chains.

Green supply-chain

We certainly hear a lot about the importance of reducing the amount of carbon our species is releasing into the atmosphere. But we don’t hear much about what this really means to our profession: in other words, how important is a ‘green’ Supply-Chain in North America?

To answer this question we recently sent out a 14-question survey to hundreds of Supply-Chain professionals. The results are in and you may find them interesting.


Three Key Findings:

1. Senior management backs ‘Greening’ the Supply Chain

Greening the supply-chain usually involves people at the top. Over half of respondents said their senior management viewed Greening the Supply-Chain as strategically important and understood its potential to create value for the organization.

Sr management view of green supply-chainOur senior management views greening the supply-chain as strategically important and understands its potential to create…

To back this up, over half of respondents said there was at least one person in their organization designated as responsible for green initiatives.

In charge of green supply-chainMy company has designated at least one person to be responsible for green initiatives

2. It’s happening in Purchasing

Many European countries have taken steps to reduce carbon emissions and bolster sustainability. They have set firm targets backed up by legislation; but in North America, we have very few such government imposed regulations.

And so we were surprised to learn that over half (58%) of the purchasers who answered the survey said they were already involved in ‘greening’ their organization’s supply-chain.

Personally involvedI am already personally involved with greening my company’s supply chain

And moreover, this number is expected to reach about 71% in the future.

Personally involved in the futureIn future, I believe I will be personally involved with greening my company’s supply chain

3. Green Suppliers are Preferred, But Measurement Systems are Lacking

A greener supply chain is definitely preferred but tools are lacking. Over 80% Supply-Chain professionals responding said they would favor suppliers with green business practices.

SuppliersAll things being equal,  I would favor suppliers that have Green business practices

However, only about 25% have any sort of carbon footprint evaluation process in place. Therefore, it’s hard for many Purchasers to know if they are being ‘green washed’ by suppliers whose claims are exaggerated.

Carbon footprintOur product or supplier evaluation process includes Carbon Footprinting

What Does All This Mean for Our Profession?

Two overarching conclusions jump out from this survey:

  1. If you are not already involved in greening your supply chains, you will likely become involved in the foreseeable future. Clearly, new tools and knowledge will be needed, especially to counter ‘green washing’.
  2. Alongside traditional measures (price, service and quality) green practices, like carbon footprints, will figure more and more in supplier selection.


If you would like to learn about how to go about measuring your supply-chain carbon footprint, click the links below:

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.

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