Designing Sustainable Supply Chains

In today’s rapidly changing world, the concept of sustainability in the design and management of supply chains has received considerable attention. With growing environmental concerns and an increased focus on social responsibility, businesses should recognize the need to create sustainable supply chains that minimize negative impacts and promote long-term viability. In this blog post, we explore strategies and best practices for designing sustainable supply chains that drive positive change and contribute to a greener, more responsible future.

The first step in (re-)designing a sustainable supply chain is gaining a comprehensive understanding of its components. This involves mapping the entire chain from suppliers to customers, identifying key stakeholders, and assessing their environmental and social impacts. By visualizing the entire supply chain, businesses can pinpoint areas of concern and prioritize improvement efforts. Our team of experts starts every network design project with a data-driven ‘as-is’ assessment, which provides quantitative insights into the current situation and sets the baseline for subsequent discussions. They also use this to decide the right goals for the future, and perform detailed scenario analysis. 

Let us break the supply chain down to its components moving from up- to downstream to demonstrate how the sustainability principle can be respected at each stage of the supply chain.


designing sustainable supply chains

Reduce environmental impact, enhance social responsibility

Responsible practices throughout the supply chain start by collaborating with the right suppliers. Selecting sustainable suppliers and engaging existing ones in sustainability initiatives, setting clear expectations, and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships can contribute to meaningful advancement. Regular communication and transparency are crucial for monitoring and improving supplier performance and encouraging compliance with sustainable practices and regulations.  

Adopting ethical and responsible sourcing practices is a fundamental aspect of a sustainable supply chain. To collaborate with truly sustainable suppliers, it is imperative for businesses to ensure that their suppliers adhere to fair labour practices, human rights standards, and environmental regulations. This involves assessing suppliers’ social and environmental performance and implementing mechanisms for ongoing monitoring such as prioritizing responsible sourcing.  

All supply chains, and especially those involving production, will benefit from exploring possibilities for using renewable energy during production. Encouraging your suppliers and customers to use renewable energy will ensure sustainability is maintained across the entire chain rather than in silos.  

Efficient and sustainable transportation and logistics is a critical aspect of designing a sustainable supply chain. Optimizing shipping routes, consolidating transport flows, regionalization in sourcing, warehousing, and cross-docking, reducing fuel consumption or opting for electric vehicles, exploring alternative transport modalities such as rail or sea, and careful planning to limit costly emergency shipments can significantly reduce GHG emissions. 

The proper management of packaging and waste is another essential consideration. Reducing packaging materials, opting for eco-friendly materials, preventing deteriorated and obsolete stock by inventory right-sizing, and promoting recycling initiatives can help minimize the environmental impact of supply chain operations. Implementing reverse logistics programs to handle product returns and recycling processes ensures that waste is managed responsibly and enhances profitability.


Ready to take the first step? Embark on a sustainable supply chain journey with our Sustainable Value Chain Game


Sustainable Supply Chains require Continuous
Monitoring and Improvement

Designing a sustainable supply chain network is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement and re-evaluation, especially in organically-grown supply chains. Regularly monitoring and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) related to sustainability, such as carbon footprint and waste reduction, enables organizations to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

Our as-a-service offering enables our clients to continuously evaluate and rethink the design of their network without needing to allocate scarce in-house capacity and capability to such complex and data-extensive studies. With our offering, we can ensure that our clients’ supply chains remain not only cost-effective and fit-for-purpose, but also as green and sustainable as possible in the long run. 

To conclude, designing sustainable supply chains is no longer just an option or a privilege; it has become a necessity for businesses to thrive and stay competitive in a rapidly changing world. By adopting the strategies and best practices outlined in this blog post, organizations can reduce their environmental footprint, promote social responsibility, and drive positive change throughout their supply chains. Embracing sustainability not only benefits the planet but also enhances brand reputation, attracts environmentally conscious consumers, and improves long-term business viability.  

EyeOn’s approach to supply chain network design and optimization is crafted to assist our clients in many of the sustainability-related tactical and strategic decisions. As businesses are no longer aiming at merely cost minimization, sustainability can and should be considered explicitly in the objective. Once the right objective has been set, our experts can assist with exploring sourcing from multiple suppliers, optimizing transport, designing a circular supply chain, or analysing any custom situation at hand.


Curious to Learn More? Get in Touch with Our Experts! 

If you’re curious how EyeOn’s approach can help your organization redesign your supply chain and make it more sustainable, reach out to one of our experts today. We’re here to help you reduce your carbon footprint, design a circular supply chain, drive efficiency, and stay competitive in a world where sustainability has become a key to business success. 

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