Sustainability 2008: Quick to the Draw

Another day, and another set of posts on sustainability for you to dive into!

Randy Littleson wrote about sustainability and the impact on supply chain responsiveness over on the Kinaxis Response Management blog. Randy notes that there are substantial regulatory requirements out there today and that this creates substantial challenges for supply chain professionals, especially since requirements differ across geographies. This means that if demand increases in one market, you can’t necessarily divert product from another market to meet it. However, if you take a global view on sustainability and drive it consistently across geographies to the greatest extent possible, you can get ahead of the curve and gain an advantage in your supply chain.

Alan Buxton contributed to the sustainability argument on Where Next by point out that there are two sides to every story. By contrasting two stories on Tata from The Economist and Private Eye, he pointed out that while firms like Tata are particularly active in providing basic services, such as schools and healthcare, for local communities, the selection of the site they chose for their factory tells a different story. The 997-acre site produced three crops a year and provided a decent living to more than 20,000 people. But when Tata picked it for its new plant in 2006 … the chief minister of West Bengal … announced that the land was to be forcibly acquired. Then there’s the tribals of Bastar in Chhatisgarh, fighting to prevent their ancestral lands being torn up for a Tata iron ore mine; and relatives of 13 tribal people shot dead by police at Kalinganagar in Orissa in January 2006, a village earmarked for a Tata steel plant. Where does CSR stop and sustainability start? How do you trade one for the other? When are you actually doing more harm than good? All important questions. Maybe Eric Hiller of Cost Cents will do a post on the True Economic Cost of sustainability!

Christopher Sciacca put reduced packaging into a bigger supply chain perspective over on Who Said Supply Chains Are Boring?. Christopher points out that the packaging volume for the new MacBook Air laptop has been reduced by 50% over the precious MacBook. Not only does this reduce waste, but the smaller and lighter boxes allow more product to fit on the same plane or truck. This means less trucks on the road, which means less fuel consumption, which means less CO2 emissions. Given the number of units Apple is likely to sell, this is significant.

And the next guest post goes up tomorrow morning!