The “Rucksack” of a Supply Chain for Butter vs. Margarine

Even if it’s not always visible for us, products have much to carry. The following example is simple, nonetheless impressive: According to the book Pendos CO2-Zähler (in German), the production of 1 kg margarine causes only 1.35 kg in CO2 equivalents, whereas the same amount of butter causes 23.80 kg in CO2 equivalents. Seemingly substitutable products carry completely different amounts of CO2! However, margarine can be much worse than butter, if it is made from rainforest-killing palm oil rather than from sun flowers. Hence, it’s not the product itself, but its supply chain that has a negative impact on our environment. Interesting CO2 rucksacks have been revealed by the PCF Project. The final consumer is unable to buy sustainably, if he/she doesn’t know the underlying supply chain. An interesting solution has been implemented by the Swiss clothing manufacturer Switcher. Each garment bears its individual Respect Code which can be used by the customer to find online information about the social and ecological rucksack of that product.

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About Andreas Wieland

Dr. Andreas Wieland is an Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include supply chain risk management and international logistics strategies.

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