Learn from the Best: Green Supply Chain Management

In recent years, the trend of green supply chain management (GSCM) has been on the rise. Merely a few years into the 21st century we began to see interest in the subject. One paper defines GSCM as “[integrating] environmental thinking into supply chain management (SCM).” It shifts away from “profit at the cost of anything” to “minimizing waste to benefit all stakeholders.” GSCM benefits both the environment and the organization if done effectively.

Over the past few years, many firms have designed sustainable supply chains and are implementing responsible practices. This is evident in many different ways. Reduced carbon emissions and fuel conservation are two of the most popular among many of the firms we know and love.


“Toyota is keeping with…stakeholders…to resolve those social issues related to vehicles.”

This company has been named the world’s Best Global Green Brand for the past three years. Toyota is working across their supply chain to implement a large scale zero emissions initiative. Currently, they are running a campaign called “Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050.” There is a series of six challenges they are working to meet by 2050. They hope to achieve zero CO2 emission across their vehicles, plant operations, and product life cycle. Also, Toyota is working to optimize water usage and improve society’s impact on nature.

Toyota is an example of a company that has implemented sustainability across all areas. By integrating these practices into their organization, they are building a sustainable and green supply chain model. The supply chain accounts for between 50% and 70% of operational activities and emissions for most manufacturing companies. For this reason, the majority of your business practices will affect how you run your supply chain. Implementing sustainable practices across your company is an effective way to create a green supply chain.


“Operate more efficiently, cut costs and win customers who care about the Earth.”

UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company, which also means they have a significant fuel emissions impact. However, UPS has been working to make this impact a positive one. Since 2000 they began implementing alternative fuel and advanced technology across their fleet. They believe that their “future depends on [their] ability to meet the growing demand for global trade while reducing [their] impact on the environment.” UPS’ goal is to be driving one billion of their miles with alternative fuel and advanced technology by 2017. They met this goal a year early and now continue to find ways to reduce further reduce their emissions.

Transportation and shipping are often thought of as the most environmentally damaging area in the supply chain. UPS proves that wrong, showing that you can still practice GSCM while having a large shipping network. UPS is leading the way to a more sustainable future for the shipping industry by partnering with other organizations to deliver GSCMs. Just because creating a green supply chain can be difficult in some areas doesn’t mean it is impossible.

Johnson and Johnson

“Our mission is to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

Johnson and Johnson is another company pushing sustainability across their whole organization. Unlike most companies we hear about making large sustainability efforts, Johnson and Johnson is a non-tech or automotive company. They manufacture and provide health and medical products. Over the past few years, they have worked to develop a set of practices and standards that keep them among the top sustainable firms. Johnson and Johnson is also a participant in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) Supply Chain Program. By requiring companies to publicly disclose and report reduction initiatives, the CDP encourages tracking and maintaining green practices.

Their initiatives show that there are ways to implement green supply chain management practices in any organization.  Also, by sharing information with customers and stakeholders, they show they are working to create a sustainable future. Even simple efforts like this make a difference in the long run. Through GSCM, Johnson and Johnson is creating lean operations and presenting themselves to consumers in a positive light.

Green supply chain management is achievable by organizations of any size and in any industry. There are many ways to create sustainable practices, and even more ways organizations can benefit from doing so. Between reducing emissions, improving tech, or using sustainable practices, every little bit counts. Take a lead from industry leaders and start implementing green supply chain practices today.