Tracking Sustainability Through the Green Supply Chain

The green supply chain is a way for companies to reduce their impact on the environment in meaningful ways that increase their sustainability. The result is that the impact is passed through the companies’ products to the end user.

Using integrated environmental logic when considering all aspects of supply chain management means that the whole process in considered, including the stages of the production process: design, raw material purchasing, manufacture, delivery and, after its useful life, end-of-life management of the product. Some companies using green supply chain management make it a marketing tool to appeal to consumers’ concern about the environment.


The Importance of Green Supply Chain

Green supply chain can show real results when one considers the cumulative approach. Consider the following criteria for their real impact and one will see opportunity at every turn:

  • raw material
  • design efficiency
  • manufacturing efficiency
  • product delivery and transportation impact
  • material waste
  • water waste
  • waste transportation impact

For example, consider the raw material that goes into the product. If a product is a building material, such as concrete, then the mining and transportation of components has a substantial impact on the carbon footprint as gravel and sand require heavy machinery and trucks, therefore large quantities of fossil fuels must be used to move the product around. Likewise the mining process may release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, as does the curing of the product once at its final consumer application.

By the same token, an advanced renewable fuel made from corn actually has the benefit of sequestering carbon in the soil as the corn grows from seed and is harvested. Then, in the processing of the feedstock to turn it into fuel, the company could use renewable energy, such as wind or solar power to reduce the carbon footprint further. By using only part of the corn for the fermentation to create the alcohol that is refined into the fuel, the protein from the corn is then turned into an animal feed, which can be sold as a co-product and reduces waste. The fuel itself is fungible in many cases and can therefore be transported via pipeline rather than truck. All of these aspects combine to help drive down the environmental costs of producing a fuel, lowering carbon intensity of an end product while increasing its sustainability.

Blockchains and Smart Contracts for the Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” allows software, sensors, and other technologies, including embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, control systems that use cellular and broadband internet connections to relay information between devices. These devices can be used to trigger the protocols set forth in smart contracts.

Most consumers are most familiar with the Internet of Things in the application of smart home technology. Industrial application of the technology has grown rapidly, making the use of wireless connectivity to eliminate the need for wires from sensors or between devices.

Green Logistics Strategies in Supply Chain Management

The Industrial Internet of Things uses devices to collect data from equipment and provide analysis. When used to connect manufacturing devices equipped with sensors, the systems can provide identification capabilities, as well as processing, communication, actuation, and networking function and control. Network control and management of manufacturing equipment, asset and situation management, or manufacturing process control allow IoT to be used for industrial applications and smart manufacturing.

In agriculture, IOT farming applications can detect data on moisture, soil content, temperature, rainfall, pest infestation, wind speed and humidity. Process controls can be integrated for targeted application of pesticides and fertilizer, optimizing investment and minimizing overall impact of excessive application.

A wireless sensor can record energy use through the electric meter at a factory, determining if the renewable-energy use levels set forth in the manufacturing plan are upheld.

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