The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains (Guest Post by Dara O’Rourke, UC Berkeley)
My guest post today comes from Dara O’Rourke. In his recent Science article, The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains, Dara argues that the field of supply chain management needs to significantly improve and integrate sustainability measurement systems and decision-support tools.
The science of sustainability measurement has progressed alongside efforts to advance supply chain traceability, impact assessment, and aggregation of data into sustainability indicators. Advances in life-cycle assessment (LCA) and product “footprinting” are increasingly being deployed in efforts to turn data into decision-support tools for global brands and retailers. However, the speed and dynamism of modern supply chains creates challenges for incorporating sustainability data into sourcing decisions. In addition, the use of divergent methodologies, data sets, and system boundaries have led to confusion across assessment initiatives. In order for these systems to generate accurate sustainability assessments, there is a need for consistent LCA inventory data and common data sets for up-stream activities; consistent life-cycle impact factors; better uncertainty analysis; localization of LCA data sets; modeling of nonlinear responses and ecosystem dynamics; and improved systems for valuing ecosystem services. Better data, decision-support tools, and incentives are needed to move from simply managing supply chains for costs, compliance, and risk reduction, to predicting and preventing unsustainable practices.
Dara O’Rourke is a professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the co-founder of GoodGuide, Inc. which recently launched PurView, a supply chain sustainability data platform for retailers and brands. You can follow Dara on twitter @DaraORourke.
O’Rourke, D. (2014). The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains. Science, 344 (6188), 1124-1127 https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1248526
Logistics Trend Radar 2014
Trend research helps academics and managers to discover topics that are interesting and important alike. DHL has now published the 2014 edition of its Logistics Trends Radar. Trends discussed in this new report include (1) omni-channel logistics, which refers to “[t]he integration of different offline and online shopping channels making use of interactive eTags with personalized content and integrating social media and mobile devices”, (2) anticipatory logistics, which involves “[t]he big data analysis of customer product searches, shopping histories, wish-lists and even cursor movements in order to send a shipment even before the customer places an order” and (3) crypto payment, which is focused on “universal payment systems that allow global cross-currency payments to clear in seconds, support any unit of value […] and make room for new pricing models”. These trends provide flags for the logistics world of the future. Let us get prepared – both in academia and in management practice.