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Protean Supply Chains: Ten Dynamics of Supply and Demand Alignment by James A. Cooke

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CHAPTER 11The Sustainability Petard

Many companies these days are paying fealty to the concept of sustainability. They have adopted corporate programs to support the mantra of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” A 2012 study by the Governance & Accountability Institute said that 57% of the Fortune 500 companies were publishing reports on their sustainability efforts. Although sustainability may make a business a good corporate citizen, sustainability does create some problems for protean supply chains.

The sustainability movement got under way three decades ago. A 1987 report by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development championed the idea of sustainable development. Sustainability was viewed as a way of meeting the needs of a growing worldwide population without having a negative impact on the environment. By the year 2000, many corporations had climbed aboard the sustainability bandwagon. Supply chains became a key focus of corporate sustainability initiatives because factories in the manufacture of products and distribution centers in the storage and handling use materials, water, and energy and create waste as by-products of their operations.

Certainly it makes sense to use resources or energy more efficiently. Take electricity. A warehouse or factory can reduce electricity usage by taking advantage of daylighting in its buildings. Daylighting—using windows and skylights—replaces electric lighting fixtures with natural light from the sun. Advances in lighting ...

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