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Sustainability Principles

Protecting the environment has moved beyond simply complying with government regulations to minimizing the effect all positions of a supply chain have on the environment and the people in it.  Businesses are now involved in areas that were once only overseen by special interest groups, such as saving endangered species, the scarcity of raw materials, the greenhouse effect, disappearing rainforests, air and water pollution, the effects of global warming, child labor, and worker safety.  

Environmental sustainability issues impacted by the supply chain and procurement activities include the following:

  • Management of waste and hazardous materials
    Reduction or elimination of waste through leaner processes
    Elimination of hazardous material danger, including knowledge of transporting and handling of environmentally-sensitive materials
    Reduction or elimination of unnecessary or toxic by-products from manufacturing processes
  • Purchase and use of materials and components which are recyclable
    The importance of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover waste hierarchy.  The most sustainably responsible is to reduce the amount of materials.  If that is not possible, the impact on the environment increases through the actions of reuse, recycle and recover.
  • A circular economy mindset, which is defined as an "economic system intended to minimize waste and maximize the use of resources through a regenerative process achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and upcycling" (APICS Dictionary, 16th edition). 
  •  Air and water pollution
    Poor air quality due to greenhouse gas (gases that create the greenhouse warming effect, such as carbon dioxide) emissions or toxic discharges
    Ozone depletion as a result of emissions of compounds such as freons and halons
    Waste discharge into waterways which contaminate ground and water tables
  •  Global effects of supply chains
    Effects of disasters created by mankind (chemical disasters, radiation, pandemics, terrorism)
    Disappearance of habitats: jungle, forests, and rainforests
    Decrease in global oxygen due to disappearance of forests and rainforests
  • Energy and natural resource consumption
    Finding alternative sources of energy to replace unsustainable sources
    ▪ Renewable resources – forest products, agricultural products, potable water, soil, marine species, biomass, wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, nuclear
    ▪ Nonrenewable resources –fossil fuels such as petroleum products, coal and gas
    Use of conservation techniques to minimize consumption and reliance on energy
    Impact of extraction, e.g., mining, due to physical disruption on area and chemicals used
    Monitoring of carbon footprint
    Monitoring of waterprint
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