Definition

supply chain sustainability

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The essential guide to supply chain management best practices

Supply chain sustainability (SCS) is a holistic view of supply chain processes and technologies that addresses the environmental, social and legal aspects of a supply chain's components as well as their economic factors. SCS is based on the principle that socially responsible products and practices are not only good for planet Earth and the people who live here, they are also good for building positive brand awareness, lowering risk and improving long-term profitability.

Historically, supply chain was simply about logistics and knowing when and where goods were moving, but the rise of the digital supply chain and accompanying visibility and analytics tools has provided companies with the ability to gather data about how well each component in the supply chain demonstrates corporate social responsibility. This transparency has promoted the concept of responsible sourcing and encouraged supply chain partners to develop and share best practices for green operations and logistics. It has also allowed prospective partners to demonstrate compliance with industry best standards for worker safety, environmental protection and business ethics.

 In large companies, the task of demonstrating supply chain sustainability may be given to a supply chain analyst or sustainability officer. In addition to developing and implementing programs and processes in support of sustainability, the job may also involve qualifying new suppliers, ensuring delivery and quality performance targets are achieved and supporting supplier diversity policies.

This was last updated in August 2017

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