Motivating Factors in Sustainable Distribution

image: green logisitcsDriven by a wide variety of business sustainability goals and objectives, leading companies around the world are searching for value in the supply chain.  Primarily focusing on upstream opportunities, the often less addressed and sometimes forgotten side of the supply chain conversation is the sustainable improvement of outbound distribution.

Browse today’s on-line publications and the sustainable supply chain discussion are dominated by the inbound efforts of mega companies like IBM and Wal-Mart.   These companies are making huge strides in supply chain transparency and providing a framework for other companies to leverage. 

•    Procurement guidelines and policies
•    Internal governance structures
•    Supply Management Systems
•    Supplier performance metrics
Now remove yourself from these ‘prescriptive’ supply chains defined by a major customer’s expectations.  Remove the motivating factor to keep Wal-Mart or IBM as a point of revenue.  For those not in a sustainable supply chain, the drivers to implement sustainability concepts into the delivery of products may be slightly different but the risks are the same.

For a Wal-Mart supplier, actions to meet expectations mitigate the underlying business sustainability risks present in the total distribution to all customers.  The same company lacking prescribed incentives must recognized the same business sustainability risks as a motivating factor to take action.

•    Increase awareness of link between carbon and distribution.
•    Increase awareness of link between product delivery and product cost.
•    Increase awareness of link between sustainable distribution and product sales.
The improvement opportunity for distribution goes beyond traditional efficient, timely and cost effective delivery. Companies taking business sustainability action:

•    Understand the available opportunities to reduce the carbon impact of distribution activities.
•    Measure the performance and impact out-bound logistics.
•    Identify areas to minimize environmental and social impact.
•    View actions to be an economic opportunity.

Growing business eco awareness and resulting business sustainability risk has provided companies with a new perspective to reassess their material and service providers.  Our sustainability consulting provides information and small business resources to clients of all sizes seeking to make steps towards a sustainable supply chain.

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