By now, "going green" is so well-woven into the fabric of the American marketing machine, that just hearing the phrase makes some of us turn green. Going green is commonly misconceived as a strictly marketing or PR function of an organization, especially given its proclivity to be slapped on to the package of a consumer good or heralded in a TV commercial. Environmentally-conscious innovations in the less consumer-visible supply chain, however, have a direct effect on supply chain efficiency and the bottom line. A green supply chain involves integrating environmentally sound practices into the core supply chain operations of a company, starting from material sourcing to delivery to recycling at the end of the line.

The most savvy of companies are taking advantage of the cost savings that a green supply chain can provide, along with a favorable public image to boot. Consumer goods giant Unilever, working with the University of Aberdeen, has developed a greenhouse gas emission calculator called the cool farm tool. It enables supply chain managers and farmers to input data, and calculates their greenhouse emissions from these data sets. Farmers can directly see what effect a small adjustment on the farm has on overall carbon emissions, allowing them to optimize agricultural methods for both cost savings, and sustainability.

Apple is currently making its new iPhone 4 out of heavily recycleable materials. A steel frame and glass screen stand alone compared to the plastic used by most of their competitors. They have also found a way to bring everything full circle by offering a 10% discount on iPods if they are recycled at an Apple Retail Store, increasing web and retail store traffic in the process. This deeper integration of green practices into every facet of the supply chain again serves multiple purposes.

Even Procurement Service Providers like Source One are integrating green practices into their sourcing activies, further widening the cost savings opportunities that a PSP provides.

Is your supply chain green? If you value efficiency, sustainability, and a built-in cost control throughout the supply chain, it should be.
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Scott Decker

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