The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1463-5771.htm Benchmarking Benchmarking supply chain supply chain sustainability: insights from sustainability a ﬁeld study 705 Claudia Colicchia Logistics Research Centre, Carlo Cattaneo University – LIUC, Castellanza, Italy, and Marco Melacini and Sara Perotti Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, ItalyAbstractPurpose – Given the relevance of supply chain sustainability, the aim of the present paper isthreefold: ﬁrst, to investigate the strategies currently undertaken by companies in the supply chainsustainability arena, and, second, to ﬁnd out which phase of the supply chain is at the forefront in theimplementation of initiatives towards more sustainable supply chains. Finally, the criteria commonlyused for priority-setting amongst different initiatives within the same supply chain phase areidentiﬁed.Design/methodology/approach – A three-pronged methodology was adopted. First, a frameworkwas developed to identify the initiatives towards supply chain sustainability. Second, the frameworkwas applied to a set of multinational companies by examining their environmental reporting, thus toassess the adoption of each initiative. Third, a further in-depth investigation of three companies wasﬁnally performed in order to provide additional insights on the obtained results.Findings – The research offers a benchmark of primary multinational companies with respect to thesupply chain sustainability initiatives and their level of adoption.Research limitations/implications – The examined set of companies, although representative(i.e. the analysed companies operate in industries in which the environmental concern is particularlycritical), is limited. However, the present paper contributes to the knowledge on supply chainsustainability and captures variations in theory, paving the way for new research.Practical implications – The paper provides an instrument to evaluate and compare companies interms of supply chain sustainability and highlights the main challenges that companies have toconfront.Originality/value – The originality of the paper lies in the adoption of a supply chain perspective toinvestigate sustainable initiatives.Keywords Sustainability, Environment, Benchmarking, Supply chain management, Green logisticsPaper type Research paper1. IntroductionSupply chain sustainability has been more and more in focus during the last years, bothamong the organizations (Hendrickson et al., 2006; Mahler, 2007) and as a research topic ¨(Seuring and Muller, 2008). Originally, many companies have viewed sustainability Benchmarking: An Internationalinitiatives as mandatory and driven by regulation (Melacini et al., 2010) but more recent Journal Vol. 18 No. 5, 2011literature would suggest that voluntary environmental programmes are also introduced pp. 705-732by organizations as possible alternatives for gaining or maintaining a competitive q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1463-5771advantage (Sarkis, 2003). DOI 10.1108/14635771111166839
BIJ According to the existing literature, the need for analysing environmental18,5 alternatives and quantifying the sustainable performances of a company is more and more vital (Sarkis, 2003; Veleva et al., 2001). Dealing with the sustainability quantiﬁcation, a key issue regards the system boundaries to be considered (Finkbeiner, 2009), i.e. analysing the single company or the supply chain as a whole (Schmidt and Schwegler, 2008), focusing only on direct impact of internal processes or also on706 indirect impact created at the supplier level (Koplin et al., 2007). Traditionally, a major line of research about supply chain sustainability regards ¨ reverse logistics (Seuring and Muller, 2008), deﬁned from an environmental perspective as the return of recyclable or reusable products and materials into the forward supply chain (Sarkis, 2003). In this ﬁeld, the main focus is on logistics network design with the aim to optimize the closed-loop manufacturing for product recovery, reuse and recycling of materials (Quariguasi et al., 2009). Still, there is little existing literature that addresses sustainability of the “direct” ﬂows of goods by using a supply chain view (Linton et al., 2007). In this sense, contributions on life cycle assessment (LCA) for single products or product families can be considered as the only examples that adopt the broader perspective (Lai et al., 2008). However, LCA studies are very time consuming and very costly (McKinnon, 2010). According to Schmidt and Schwegler (2008), such analyses can only be carried out for products particularly relevant from a strategic or environmental point of view, avoiding situations in which the LCAs of all products are noted and updated. Many authors are exploring environmental initiatives within each major phase of the supply chain. In fact, much of the research is focused predominantly on one functional area only (Sarkis, 1999), addressing speciﬁc aspects such as product design for environment (Turner and Houston, 2009) or energy efﬁciency and greenhouse gas emissions (Hendrickson et al., 2006). To the best of our knowledge, the study by Rao and Holt (2005) is the only contribution that identiﬁes the initiatives for greening the different phases of the supply chain. The present paper aims to ﬁll this void, investigating the current adoption by companies of environmentally sustainable initiatives from a supply chain perspective, i.e. considering all the phases of supply chain management. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. The purpose and research questions are outlined in Section 2, while the methodology of the present research is described in Section 3. After the description of the proposed framework for environmentally sustainable initiatives (Section 4), the analysis of the environmental reporting of ten multinational companies follows (Section 5). The case studies are presented in Section 6 and the paper then discusses the results, provides insights on the key elements driving the adoption of sustainable programmes by companies, and concludes with implications for research and management (Section 7). 2. Purpose and research questions The literature review has revealed the increasing interest that the research community has progressively shown towards the subject of supply chain sustainability. Such rising attention may be observed also from the practitioners’ viewpoint, since companies have started to experience pressure from a variety of stakeholders to implement new initiatives towards sustainable supply chains.
Based on this scenario, the aim of the present paper is threefold: ﬁrst, to ﬁnd out Benchmarkingwhich phase within the supply chain is at the forefront in the development of more supply chainsustainable supply chains (Research Question 1), and, second, to investigate theinitiatives currently undertaken by companies in the supply chain sustainability arena sustainability(Research Question 2). Finally, the criteria commonly used for priority-setting amongstdifferent initiatives within the same supply chain phase are identiﬁed (ResearchQuestion 3). 7073. MethodologyIn order to achieve the research objectives, an in-depth review of previous literature onthis topic was initially performed. The three dimensions of sustainability, i.e. social,economic and environmental (Carter and Rogers, 2008) were explored. Of them, onlythe environmental dimension was speciﬁcally taken into account for the purposes ofthe present study. In order to address the emerged literature void, a supply chainperspective, that encompasses all the phases of supply chain management, wasadopted within the analysis. Based on these premises, the following three-pronged methodology was used.First, a framework was developed to identify the initiatives towards supply chainsustainability. Second, the framework was applied to a set of companies by examiningtheir company environmental reporting (CER), thus to assess the adoption level of eachinitiative. Third, a further in-depth investigation of three companies was ﬁnallyperformed. The framework was built on the earlier study by Rao and Holt (2005) and furtherexpanded based on a comprehensive review of the existing literature. Two main stepswere detailed: S1. Identiﬁcation of a set of environmental initiatives for each phase of the supply chain. S2. Identiﬁcation and computation of an environmental performance index (EPI) for each phase of the supply chain to benchmark the company environmental performances.In order to address the ﬁrst aforementioned step of the framework (S1), building uponprevious literature (Linton et al., 2007; Rao and Holt, 2005) ﬁve different phases of thesupply chain were taken into account, namely: (1) inbound supply chain (green procurement); (2) production (“internal” supply chain); (3) outbound supply chain; (4) warehousing; and (5) product design and use.For each of the above-mentioned phases, a detailed list of initiatives that may beundertaken to enhance environmental sustainability was prepared based on theliterature review. Reverse logistics was excluded from the analysis, since it is a verynarrow aspect of sustainability, already studied in detail in the extant literature.The possible solutions and requirements of the reverse logistics channel may
BIJ considerably vary depending on the organization, industry and product type (Sarkis,18,5 2003). For this reason, we considered it beyond the scope of the present research. As for S2, an EPI for each phase was computed in order to measure the overall effort currently undertaken by companies to foster the sustainability of their supply chain. This allows a comparative analysis for benchmarking the sustainability initiatives in place for each company within each phase of the supply chain.708 The framework was then applied to a set of ten large multinational companies (Coca-Cola HBC, Electrolux, Henkel, Ikea, Fiat Group, Kimberly Clark, Levi Strauss ` & Co, Nestle, Pirelli and Tenaris). The companies, whose features are illustrated in Table I, were selected based on the following criteria: . large companies, which are more inclined to adopt green initiatives (Vachon and Klassen, 2007); . multinational companies with the headquarter, or at least a branch, in Italy; . companies operating in industries in which the environmental concern is particularly critical; and . listed companies that communicate to their stakeholders their environmental strategy and the related obtained performances. For each of them, the CER available on the internet site of the company was examined to understand the current environmental initiatives they are adopting within each phase of the supply chain. The analysis of public sustainability reports is already present in the extant literature on this topic (Schneider et al., 2010). The main aim is to provide some insights into the level of understanding and awareness of sustainability issues within the companies reviewed, without claiming to link the obtained performances with the related investment (Veleva et al., 2003; Roth and Kaberger, 2002). Starting from the results obtained from applying the framework, a sub-set of three companies was ﬁnally selected for further in-depth interviews. Those companies were chosen for a more detailed analysis as they were presenting a signiﬁcant Number of Publication Publication year production year of the ﬁrst of the examined Turnover (Italy Industry plants in environmental environmental Company 2009) (million) sector Italy report report Coca-Cola HBC 1,228 FMCG – 8 2002 2008 beverage Electrolux 1,026 Electronics 5 1995 2008 Henkel 900 FMCG 2 2001 2009 Ikea 1,382 Retail 0 2005 2008 Fiat Group 12,726 Automotive 64 2004 2009 Kimberly Clark 282 FMCG 2 2004 2009 Levi Strauss & Co. 89 Fashion 0 n.a. 2007 Nestle´ 1,548 FMCG 12 2006 2009 Pirelli 500 Automotive 4 2005 2008Table I. – tyresFeatures of the Tenaris n.a. Steel 5 n.a. 2009examined companies industry
environmental sensibility, also due to the considerable interest that consumers had in their Benchmarkingsustainable initiatives. Speciﬁcally, two companies operate in the beverage industry supply chain ´(i.e. Coca-Cola HBC and Nestle), and one operates in the electronics industry ´(i.e. Electrolux). In particular, as for Nestle, the Waters division was speciﬁcally examined. sustainability Companies were asked to discuss the obtained results and share ideas on theinhibitors that prevent them from pursuing major change programmes. The interviewees were supply chain managers and/or environment managers, 709working in Italy. Interviews normally lasted between 3 and 4 hours (plus a furthercheck for data validation), and were completed in the September-December 2009 timeframe. The interviews were audio-taped and supported by a questionnaire composed oftwo macro-sections, respectively, dealing with: (1) company general information, including logistics and transportation network; and (2) initiatives in place towards supply chain environmental sustainability, including performance measurement indicators being adopted and overall perceived impact on CO2 emissions.4. Framework for assessing supply chain sustainabilityIn this section, we present the framework to identify and assess the initiatives towardssupply chain sustainability. A brief description of the initiatives that can be used toenhance environmental sustainability within each of the above-mentioned supply chainphases (i.e. inbound supply chain, production, outbound supply chain, warehousing andproduct design and use) is initially provided (from Sections 4.1 to 4.5). The identiﬁedinitiatives were synthesized in Tables II and III. Then in Section 4.6, we present the EPIto benchmark company sustainability in the supply chain context.4.1 Inbound supply chainThe traditional view of purchasing as a tactical function has changed profoundly in thelast years. Globalisation has allowed a deep variety of goods and services to becomeavailable anywhere in the world and it also facilitated offshore outsourcing to low-costcountries. Therefore, the purchasing function is becoming increasingly critical forthe competitiveness of the ﬁrm and its impact on the environmental performance of thecompany, through the purchase of materials or selection of suppliers, couldbe signiﬁcantly relevant (Sarkis, 2003). From the inbound perspective, greening the supply chain comprises initiativestowards a better management of inbound logistics as well as green purchasingstrategies. However, it should be noticed that the initiatives related to the transportationphase may also be applied in the outbound supply chain, with the only difference that theoutbound logistics is more critical for stricter service-level requirements to be respected(Wu and Dunn, 1995). Thus, its management towards an enhanced environmentalsustainability is more difﬁcult. Furthermore, green purchasing strategies represent alarge part of the inbound function in response to environmental concern (Rao and Holt,2005). For these reasons, we decided to analyse within the inbound supply chain only theinitiatives related to green purchasing, while referring to the outbound phase for athorough analysis of environmental initiatives in logistics. The “green purchasing” can be deﬁned as the process of formally introducingand integrating environmental issues and concerns into the purchasing process,seeking to acquire goods and services characterised by a low environmental impact,
BIJ Supply18,5 chain phase Approach Initiative Main references Inbound Green Suppliers’ requirement to have an Bowen et al. (2001), Chen (2005), supply purchasing environmental certiﬁcation Christensen et al. (2008),710 chain Eco-labelled product purchase Darnall et al. (2008), Handﬁeld Adoption of environmental criteria et al. (2002), Hervani et al. (2005), into the supplier assessment Matthews (2003), Rao and Holt system (2005), Rex and Baumann (2006) Environmental collaboration with and Vachon and Klassen (2008) suppliers Production Reduction of Energy: introduction of an energy Florida and Davison (2001), input resources manager Hilliard (2006), King and Lenox Energy: choice of green electric (2001) and Veleva and power suppliers Ellenbecker (2001) Energy: use of cogeneration plants Energy: energy efﬁciency improvement Energy: adoption of cleaner technology Fuel: district heating system Water: increase water system efﬁciency Water: waste water treatment Water: process optimization Material: reuse of materials Material: process optimization Reduction of CO2 capture and storage McKinnon et al. (2010), wastes and Reduction of hydroﬂuorocarbons Rothenberg et al. (2005) and hazardous (HFC) and perﬂuorocarbons (PFC) Turner and Houston (2009) emissions Use of CO2 refrigeration systems Treatment and control of post- combustion emissions Use of alternative fuels (e.g. cleaner fuels) Treatment and recycle of hazardous wastesTable II. Process optimizationSustainable initiatives Implementation of waste-to-energywithin inbound processsupply chain and Waste reduction, reuse andproduction phases recycling approaches i.e. products environmentally friendly in nature and produced using environmentally friendly processes (Handﬁeld et al., 2002; Rao and Holt, 2005). The initiatives to minimize environmental impact in inbound supply chain, according to the “green purchasing” approach, can be summarised as follows: . Suppliers’ requirement to have an environmental certiﬁcation, e.g. ISO 14001, EMAS. For example, once certiﬁed, the ISO 14001 label indicates that the supplier has implemented a management system that documents the organization’s
Supply chainphase Approach Initiative Main referencesOutbound supply Vehicle optimization Vehicle technological innovation (e.g. McKinnon (2010), Wu and Dunn (1995),chain cleaner trucks) Langley and Capgemini (2008) and Vehicle maintenance and disposal Finkbeiner (2009) Use of alternative fuels (e.g. cleaner fuels) Carrier selection Driver skill improvement Selection of green transportation modes Combined use of road and rail Vannieuwenhuyse et al. (2003) and Wu transportation and Dunn (1995) Combined use of road and sea transportation Combined use of road and inland navigation Logistics optimization Shipment consolidation Aronsson and Brodin (2006), Langley and Balancing backhaul movements Capgemini (2008), McKinnon (2000), Increase of the vehicle utilization degree Murphy (1994), Murphy and Poist (2000), Logistics network redesign Van Hoek (1999) and Wu and Dunn (1995) Travel distance optimizationWarehousing Green building practices Attention to construction materials Rizzo (2006) Use of energy-efﬁcient lighting systems and day lighting Efﬁcient building thermal insulation Use of variable-frequency drive HVAC Use of green energy sources Introduction of solar and photovoltaic Rizzo (2006) panels Use of cogeneration plants Use of wind turbines Use of rainwater collection systems (continued) sustainability Benchmarking and product design chain, warehousing, Sustainable initiatives supply chain and use phases within outbound supply Table III. 711
BIJ 18,5 712 Table III.Supply chainphase Approach Initiative Main references Operational strategies Travel distance optimization Wu and Dunn (1995) Container recycle or reuse Use of energy-efﬁcient material handling equipmentProduct design and Reduction of product impact within the Decrease in the use of material/energy Calcott and Walls (2000), Schvaneveldtuse supply chain Easier product break up and recycle at the (2003), Sherwin (2004), Sroufe et al. (2000), Reduction of product impact in the end of the life cycle Wever et al. (2007), Wu and Dunn (1995) consumer use Low energy-consuming products and Zsidisin and Hendrick (1998) Reduction of packaging impact Design to avoid or reduce the use of hazardous products Packaging reduction Packaging reuse Packaging recycling
environmental aspects and impacts, and identiﬁes a process of continuous Benchmarking improvement (Chen, 2005; Darnall et al., 2008; Matthews, 2003). supply chain . Eco-labelled product purchase. Eco-labels allow buying companies to choose sustainability products with a low environmental impact. Beyond mandatory eco-labels, a supplier can use voluntary eco-labelling systems (e.g. green lights, green label) as tools to improve its market share by communicating the environmental information of products (Rex and Baumann, 2007). 713 . Adoption of environmental criteria into the supplier assessment system. This initiative represents the extension of the supplier assessment process aimed at incorporating environmental considerations into these activities (Bowen et al., 2001; Handﬁeld et al., 2002). The company establishes the required environmental performances of suppliers and monitors them through techniques such as vendor rating. The required green performances could vary depending on the context under consideration (Hervani et al., 2005). . Environmental collaboration with suppliers. Beyond the assessment of the environmental suppliers’ performances, this initiative introduces more proactive measures, such as involving the suppliers in the product design process and/or in plans to reduce the environmental impact associated with material ﬂows in the supply chain (Chen, 2005; Christensen et al., 2008; Vachon and Klassen, 2008). The challenge is to create the conditions in which collaborative working becomes possible. The underlying principle is information sharing and the willingness to create partnerships. As pointed out by Rao and Holt (2005) often this initiative is merely operationalised by holding awareness seminars for suppliers, bringing together suppliers to share problems, informing suppliers about the beneﬁts of cleaner production and technologies, arranging for funds to help suppliers to purchase equipment for sustainability improvement.4.2 ProductionThe sustainable production, considering the sole environmental dimension ofsustainability, can be deﬁned as “the creation of goods and services using processesand systems that are non-polluting, conserving of energy and natural resources”(Veleva et al., 2001). There are a number of contributions addressing the environmental impact of themanufacturing phase. The proposed approaches to greening the production processcan be summarised into the following categories: . Reduction of input resources, that is implementation of actions aimed at reducing utilisation of input resources and, consequently, the wastes of materials and energy during the production process. In this sense, lean production practices (King and Lenox, 2001) and total quality management (Florida and Davison, 2001) can lead to improved environmental performances. . Reduction of wastes and hazardous emissions to human beings and/or environment (e.g. solid and liquid wastes, air emissions, noise).The ﬁrst category includes initiatives towards reduction of energy consumption,materials, fresh water and fuel utilisation (Veleva and Ellenbecker, 2001). In this sense,sustainable production can be considered as the application of an environmental
BIJ strategy applied to production process to increase the eco-efﬁciency of the process itself,18,5 by minimising the input resources needed to obtain the same output. These solutions may lead to improvements both from an environmental and an economic point of view and for this reason they are called eco-efﬁcient (Tsoulfas and Pappis, 2006). Practices toward the improvement of eco-efﬁciency can signiﬁcantly vary for different processes and industries. In Table I, the generic term “process optimization” refers to714 this kind of possible environmental initiatives. Other examples of initiatives aimed at minimising the input resources can be: introduction of an energy manager, choice of green electric power suppliers, use of cogeneration plants, energy efﬁciency improvement. Finally, the integration of environmental protection consideration into production technologies is broadly known as “cleaner technology” (Hilliard, 2006). Approaches towards the reduction of wastes and hazardous emissions should consider different elements: hydroﬂuorocarbons and perﬂuorocarbons, nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides, solvents, acids, arsenic, mercury, benzene, solid wastes generated from the production process and carbon dioxide (CO2) (Rothenberg et al., 2005; McKinnon et al., 2010). Once again it is difﬁcult to deﬁne speciﬁc initiatives towards the reduction of emissions, since they depend strictly on the process under consideration. The key issues present in the literature are waste management and the greenhouse gas emissions. Waste management falls within the broad category of reverse logistics, through the adoption of reduction, reuse and recycling approaches (Turner and Houston, 2009). Greenhouse gas emissions are usually reported in carbon dioxide equivalents. Furthermore, the literature is mainly concentrated on CO2 emissions since it is well acknowledged by researches that, in the past few decades, the CO2 emission from human activities has signiﬁcantly increased, and, consequently, the problem of global warming has become an important issue. Many countries are setting out targets to limit the CO2 emission in different industries. A measure of the total amount of CO2 emitted either directly or indirectly is provided by the carbon footprint (Wiedmann et al., 2006; Wiedmann and Minx, 2008; Matthews et al., 2008). According to some authors, the analysis of CO2 emissions can be misleading, since “the information contained in a carbon footprint varies depending on how it was calculated and how much responsibility the entity being ‘footprinted’ is willing to take on” (Matthews et al., 2008). Although assessing the mere carbon footprint of activities and processes can be reductive, since it can be in conﬂict with other environmental indicators (e.g. recycling paper should be stopped, because compared to virgin paper with a carbon footprint close to “zero”, it comes with a higher burden-unless renewable energy is used for the processes necessary, many efforts are under way in this direction (Finkbeiner, 2009)). As it will be explained in detail in the following sections, the analysis of carbon footprint regards, besides the production process, the transportation phase as well. Furthermore, the total carbon emissions are not just the direct emissions due to the manufacturing processes of the company but should consider also the indirect emission, arising from the consumption of energy. These indirect emissions can be controlled through the improvement of energy efﬁciency and low-carbon energy supply (i.e. reduction of input resources). Other initiatives can be used to achieve savings of direct emissions, depending on the process under consideration and the fuel type used.
4.3 Outbound supply chain BenchmarkingOutbound supply chain (also known as physical distribution) is one of the major sources supply chainof environmental problems (European Commission, 2001). The most critical element isrelated to CO2 emissions during the transportation. The key role of the carbon footprint sustainabilityis even attested by Wal-Mart green supply chain plan. According to Wal-Mart, the globalsupply chain footprint is much larger than its operational footprint and presents more“impactful” opportunities to reduce emissions (Berman, 2010). 715 Possible approaches towards the reduction of the carbon footprint during thephysical distribution may be identiﬁed as follows: (1) Vehicle optimization, by means of: . vehicle technological innovation, i.e. energy efﬁciency, reduction of air emissions and fuel use, vehicle aerodynamics (McKinnon, 2010); . vehicle maintenance and disposal (Wu and Dunn, 1995); . use of alternative fuels (Langley and Capgemini, 2008) (e.g. ﬁrst- and second-generation bio-fuels, pressurized natural gas, and, as a long-term strategy, more advanced solutions such as hydrogen fuel cells); . carrier selection (i.e. in case of logistics outsourcing, including vehicle environmental impacts, such as air emissions, among the carrier selection drivers); and . driver skill improvement (e.g. training courses). (2) Selection of green transportation modes, such as the combined use of road and either rail, sea transportation or inland navigation (Wu and Dunn, 1995; Vannieuwenhuyse et al., 2003). (3) Logistics optimization, aiming to reduce travel distances by means of: . shipment consolidation (Aronsson and Brodin, 2006; Langley and Capgemini, 2008); . balancing backhaul movements (Wu and Dunn, 1995); . increase of the vehicle utilization degree (Wu and Dunn, 1995; McKinnon, 2000); and . logistics network redesign (Murphy, 1994; Van Hoek, 1999; Murphy and Poist, 2000).Travel distance optimization is promoted by the implementation of a good informationsystem (McIntyre et al., 1998). A further indirect transportation improvement may beachieved through product design (Van Hoek, 1999), aiming to reduce packaging weightand volume (Section 4.5). The presence of tax restrictions or fees for the most pollutant vehicles (Greene andWegener, 1997; Himanen et al., 2005) have not been considered among the strategiestowards CO2 emission reduction, since the present study adopts a “private”(i.e. company) viewpoint. Other possible strategies related to company car ﬂeets – although noteworthy –have not been taken into account for the purposes of the analysis, since the focus of thepresent paper is on goods.
BIJ 4.4 Warehousing18,5 The environmental impact of warehouses is primarily connected to energy consumption (Andriansyah et al., 2009) and – as an indirect effect – to the CO2 emitted for energy production. Indeed, a number of activities or procedures performed within a warehouse, such as air conditioning or heating, material handling operations, lightening, require electrical energy to operate.716 In the literature, very few papers may be found that speciﬁcally address the issue of energy consumption within warehouses (Rizzo, 2006). Overall, possible approaches towards the achievement of sustainable warehousing may be summarized as follows: . Green building practices, i.e. attention to construction materials (e.g. use of recycled concrete, steel, asphalt and other materials), use of energy-efﬁcient lighting systems and day lighting, efﬁcient building thermal insulation (Rizzo, 2006), use of variable-frequency drive heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment that allow both a signiﬁcant reduction of energy consumption and the performance optimization of appliances such as pumps and fans, based on the current building requirements. . Use of green energy sources (i.e. introduction of solar and photovoltaic panels, use of cogeneration plants, wind turbines and rainwater collection systems). . Operational strategies, e.g. travel distance optimization, container recycle or reuse (Wu and Dunn, 1995), use of energy-efﬁcient material handling equipment. 4.5 Product design and use Although product design is normally a “clean” phase, it contributes signiﬁcantly to the overall product environmental impacts. Such criticality is proved by an increasing number of contributions dealing with “design for sustainability” (Sherwin, 2004) or “design for environment” (Calcott and Walls, 2000; Sroufe et al., 2000; Schvaneveldt, 2003; Wever et al., 2007). The key objective lies in the achievement of an environmentally friendly product design. A reduction in the product environmental impact may be achieved not only through an appropriate product design, but also a proper use by consumers. In this sense, consumers must become more aware of the environmental implications related to the products they are using, so that sustainability may be perceived as a value-added element for the society, as well as a distinguishing feature for companies. Two main areas main be identiﬁed addressing the available strategies towards sustainable product design and use, namely product design, and packaging design. As for product design, possible strategies lie in: . Reduction of product environmental impact within the supply chain (intended as a “closest loop”). For instance, product design may go towards a decrease in the use of material/energy, or an easier product break up and recycle at the end of the life cycle (i.e. product design for reuse, recycle, recovery of material, component parts) (Zsidisin and Hendrick, 1998). . Reduction of product environmental impact in the consumer use. It is the case of low energy-consuming products, or those products designed to avoid or reduce the use of hazardous of products (Zsidisin and Hendrick, 1998).
As for the packaging design, it affects both the generated waste and the overall Benchmarkingenvironmental efﬁciency of the whole supply chain (e.g. beneﬁts related to the degree supply chainof vehicle utilization due to reduced packaging volumes). In this sense, strategies maybe three-pronged: sustainability (1) packaging reduction (i.e. decrease in packaging volume and weight, thus to reduce the generated waste and increase supply chain efﬁciency); 717 (2) packaging reuse (i.e. design packaging which may be easily reused); and (3) packaging recycling (i.e. design packaging which may be easily recycled).4.6 Environmental performance indexIn order to assess the adoption of the proposed sustainable initiatives for each phase j ofthe supply chain, an EPI for each company k can be deﬁned as follows: PN j i¼1 S k;i; j · W i; j EPI k; j ¼ · 100 ð1Þ Njwhere: . Sk,i,j is a Boolean variable equal to 1 if the initiative i is adopted in the phase j by company k, 0 otherwise. . Wi,j is the impact of the initiative i within the supply chain phase j on the overall sustainable performance. . Nj is the total number of initiatives considered within the supply chain phase j.The value of EPIk,j, as deﬁned, assesses the implementation by companies of theproposed sustainable initiatives, without considering the intensity in their use. Even ifthis latter dimension could represent a valuable information, its evaluation is reallydifﬁcult (Schvaneveldt, 2003) and is beyond the scope of the present research. After having calculated EPIk,j for each phase j of the supply chain, an overall EPI foreach company k (EPIk) can be simply computed as their average value. This index,expressed as a percentage, is a measure of the effort made by the considered companyk towards supply chain sustainability. The proposed initiatives could have a different impact on the performances actuallyobtained towards sustainability (e.g. within the “product design and use” phasethe initiative “easier product break up” could be considered less effective than “designinglow energy-consuming products”). In order to consider this aspect, it is possible to assigna different weight (Wi,j) to each initiative in the calculation of EPIk. However, assigningthe weights to the different initiatives is not always an easy task (e.g. considering theoutbound supply chain different viewpoints clearly exist about the debate on whether ismore important to improve vehicle utilization or redesign the logistics network).Additionally, in the literature, there is no unanimity on the value to be attributed to thedifferent sustainable initiatives. Therefore, hereafter an equal weight for the proposedinitiatives is considered in the calculation of the EPI, while through the case studyanalysis (Section 6) the criteria commonly used for priority-setting amongst differentinitiatives within the same supply chain phase will be investigated. For displaying the EPI results two approaches are proposed, namely: radar chart,also as known spider chart, and box plots. The ﬁrst one (i.e. radar chart) is useful to show
BIJ each company results separately, and is commonly used in benchmarking applications18,5 having multiple dimensions of performance (Camp, 1995). For instance, it has been adopted for evaluating Sony’s environmental performance (Schvaneveldt, 2003) as well as Hitachi’s (Burritt and Saka, 2006). Each axis of the radar chart represents the score of one of the examined phases. The value displayed on the jth axis indicates the corresponding EPIk,j indicator. The centre point indicates a score of 0 (i.e. zero initiatives718 in place), whereas values within the outer circle indicate a signiﬁcant adoption level. Such diagram allows to easily represent the directions towards which the company is operating. The radar chart may help companies perform a benchmarking with their competitors, by comparing their average adoption level for each axis (EPIk). Otherwise, it can be also used for benchmarking the adoption level of a single company along different time frames. In such latter case, the company performance along different years may be represented. However, if the aim is to compare a large number of companies, the radar chart tends to offer a less clear representation; in such context the box plot tends to offer a better readability. This representation, developed in statistics for quality control (Montgomery, 2009), has been increasingly used in logistics and supply chain management. The bottoms and tops of each “box” are the 25th and 75th percentiles of the EPIk,j, respectively. The distances between the tops and bottoms are the interquartile ranges. The line in the middle of each box is the sample median. If the median is not centered in the box, it shows sample skewness. The features of this plot allow for an investigation both within each phase of the supply chain and among them. In fact, it is possible to ﬁnd out which phase of the supply chain is at the forefront in the implementation of initiatives towards more sustainable supply chains, and to analyse the variability in the company behaviour within the same phase. 5. Application of the framework Based on the proposed framework, the sustainability effort level has been examined for a set of ten companies (Tables IV and V). As above observed, results may be analysed for each company or at an aggregate level. As for the analysis for each company, Figure 1 shows the case of Coca-Cola HBC using a radar diagram. Company results in terms of EPIk,j have been plotted, as well as the mean value for the examined set of ten companies (EPIj). Results attest that for three out of ﬁve phases the adoption level of sustainable initiatives is equal or above 50%. Comparing Coca-Cola HBC with the others, the adoption level is higher, or at least aligned, to the mean value. Speciﬁcally, the company sensitiveness to sustainability issues within the outbound supply chain phase is considerably higher than the mean value. The radar chart representation is generally not suitable for aggregate analysis. Therefore, we used the box-plot representation to compare the overall results (Figure 2). On the basis of the results shown in Figure 2, we can provide a ﬁrst answer to RQ1: RQ1. Which phase(s) within the supply chain is at the forefront in the development of more sustainable supply chains. . The majority of companies have adopted sustainable initiatives to strengthen brand image or differentiate their product, conﬁrming the evidence of the extant literature. As for the “product design and use” phase, the sample median is equal
CompanySupply chain phase Initiative A B C D E F G H I JInbound supply chain Suppliers’ requirement to have an environmental x x certiﬁcation Eco-labelled product purchase x x Adoption of environmental criteria into the supplier x x x x x x x assessment system Environmental collaboration with suppliers x x x x x x x xProduction Energy: introduction of an energy manager x x x Energy: choice of green electric power suppliers x x x x Energy: use of cogeneration plants x x x x Energy: energy efﬁciency improvement x x x x x x x x Energy: adoption of cleaner technology x x x x x Fuel: district heating system x x Water: increase water system efﬁciency x x x x x x x x Water: waste water treatment x x x x x x Water: process optimization x x x x x x Material: reuse of materials x x x Material: process optimization x x x x x x x CO2 capture and storage Reduction of hydroﬂuorocarbons (HFC) and x x x x x perﬂuorocarbons (PFC) Use of CO2 refrigeration systems Treatment and control of post-combustion emissions Use of alternative fuels (e.g. cleaner fuels) x x x x x Treatment and recycle of hazardous wastes x x x x x Process optimization x x x x x x x x Implementation of waste-to-energy process x x x Waste reduction, reuse and recycling approaches x x x x x x x ´Notes: A ¼ Coca-Cola HBC; B ¼ Electrolux; C ¼ Fiat Group; D ¼ Henkel; E ¼ Ikea; F ¼ Kimberly Clark; G ¼ Levi Strauss & Co.; H ¼ Nestle;I ¼ Pirelli; J ¼ Tenaris; x ¼ initiative adopted by company kSource: Company environmental reporting sustainability Benchmarking for inbound supply chain environmental initiatives of the identiﬁed Adoption by companies supply chain and production phases 719 Table IV.
BIJ 18,5 720 Table V. and use phases of the identiﬁed and product design chain, warehousing, for outbound supply Adoption by companies environmental initiatives CompanySupply chain phase Initiative A B C D E F G H I JOutbound supply chain Vehicle technological innovation (e.g. cleaner trucks) x x x x Vehicle maintenance and disposal x Use of alternative fuels (e.g. cleaner fuels) x x Carrier selection x x x x x Driver skill improvement x x x x Combined use of road and rail transportation x x x x x x Combined use of road and sea transportation x x Combined use of road and inland navigation Shipment consolidation x x x Balancing backhaul movements x Increase of the vehicle utilization degree x x x x x x Logistics network redesign x x Travel distance optimization x x xWarehousing Attention to construction materials Use of energy-efﬁcient lighting systems and day lighting x x x Efﬁcient building thermal insulation x Use of variable-frequency drive HVAC Introduction of solar and photovoltaic panels x x Use of cogeneration plants Use of wind turbines Use of rainwater collection systems Travel distance optimization x Container recycle or reuse Use of energy-efﬁcient material handling equipmentProduct design and use Decrease in the use of material/energy x x x x x x x x x Easier product break up and recycle at the end of the life cycle x x x x x x x Low energy-consuming products x x x x x x x Design to avoid or reduce the use of hazardous products x x x x x Packaging reduction x x x x x x x x x Packaging reuse x x x x Packaging recycling x x x x ´Notes: A ¼ Coca-Cola HBC; B ¼ Electrolux; C ¼ Fiat Group; D ¼ Henkel; E ¼ Ikea; F ¼ Kimberly Clark; G ¼ Levi Strauss & Co.; H ¼ Nestle;I ¼ Pirelli; J ¼ Tenaris; x ¼ initiative adopted by company kSource: Company environmental reporting
Inbound supply chain Benchmarking 75% supply chain sustainability Product design Production 721 and use 57% 35% 50% 9% Coca-Cola HBC Benchmark Figure 1. 58% Radar chart of sustainability efforts Outbound supply for Coca-Cola HBC Warehousing chain 1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 Values 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 Figure 2. 0 Company sustainability effort for each phase Inbound supply Production Outbound supply Warehousing Product design of the supply chain chain chain and use to 71 per cent. This value, besides being higher than for the other phases, coincides with the 75th percentile. Furthermore, the value of the 25th percentile is the highest, thus demonstrating a signiﬁcant adoption level of such sustainable initiatives for all the examined companies.. Most of companies have concentrated their effort on the inbound supply chain (the sample median is equal to 50 per cent), or on the production phase (median equal to 40 per cent). As far as the inbound supply chain is regarded, the reasons underpinning this choice could be related to the ease in the implementation: green purchasing initiatives in fact do not require any internal re-organization but only
BIJ the introduction of environmental criteria into suppliers’ selection and18,5 assessment. Considering the production phase, it must be remarked that it is the most internally focused for the company, allowing companies to gather reliable information to support sustainable initiatives and directly observe the beneﬁts of them. . The initiatives applied in outbound supply chain and warehousing are722 quite limited, up to values equal to zero for warehousing in nearly every case. Speciﬁcally for this latter phase, the median is equal to 0 and corresponds to the 25th percentile. Only one case has been observed with a remarkable adoption level (i.e. Ikea). Conversely, as for the outbound phase the median value (equal to 23 per cent) is higher than for warehousing, although lower than for the other phases. It is difﬁcult to investigate the reasons underpinning a different level of adoption of the sustainable initiatives by individual companies. In some cases, the results of the analysis can be related to the industry in which the company operates. As an example, being Ikea a retailer, no sustainable initiatives for the production phase have been detected. As for Tenaris, the inbound supply chain phase is the most neglected since it is probably difﬁcult to ﬁnd “green” suppliers of raw materials for the production of tubes. In other cases, however, it is difﬁcult to explain, with the available data and information, the adoption of the sustainable initiatives by companies. For example, it is a counter-intuitive ﬁnding that Tenaris does not adopt any initiative in warehousing and outbound SC phases, according to the examined CER. Going back to the aims of the present paper, to answer RQ2: RQ2. What are the initiatives currently undertaken by companies in the supply chain sustainability arena? we consider the implementation of sustainable initiatives within each phase of the supply chain. The following remarks may be pointed out: . As a general result, a signiﬁcant variability in terms of adoption level, partially due to the sample size. . Only two cases have been detected, i.e. with reference to inbound supply chain (Kimberly Clark) and product design and use (Henkel), with a pervasive adoption of all initiatives considered within the framework. This implies that companies have been generally focusing their attention on a sub-set of initiatives rather than encompassing all those available. . Outbound supply chain and inbound supply chain present the highest variability in terms of adoption level. As for outbound supply chain, results range from 8 per cent (25th percentile) and 54 per cent (75th percentile), with a difference equal to 46 per cent between the two. Regards inbound supply chain, the 25th percentile is equal to 25 per cent and the 75th percentile equals 75 per cent (difference equal to 50 per cent). . The initiatives being used by most of companies (i.e. initiatives being implemented by at least 80 per cent of them) are: environmental collaboration with suppliers, initiatives improving energy efﬁciency, process optimization, decrease in the use of material, packaging reduction.
Overall, the analysis has conﬁrmed the validity of the proposed framework for Benchmarkingbenchmarking the sustainability initiatives towards which companies have started to supply chainshow their attention. It has also revealed the companies choose a sub-set of thesustainable initiatives to be implemented rather than adopt all of them. At present, sustainabilitythe method to be used for priority setting (i.e. initiatives with high environmental impactversus low implementation costs) is not clear yet. Finally, although the great impact oftransportation process on supply chain sustainability (Roth and Kaberger, 2002), the 723initiatives applied in this sense are not as widespread as it would be expected.6. Case study analysisAmong the ten companies examined within the study, three have been selected ´(i.e. Coca-Cola HBC, Electrolux and Nestle) for additional in-depth interviews. The mainaim was to investigate the hurdles to the implementation of sustainable initiatives, aswell as the criteria commonly used for priority-setting amongst different initiativeswithin the same supply chain phase. The analysis was mainly focused on the supplychain phases in which the adoption of initiatives towards sustainability is quite limited(i.e. outbound supply chain and warehousing) and it refers to the Italian context only. Within- and across-case analysis are, respectively, performed as follows. For eachcase, the distribution network is presented, as well as the environmental initiatives inplace, the performance measurement system being used, and the foremost hurdles fromimplementation.6.1 Coca-Cola HBCCoca-Cola HBC Italia started operations in Italy in 1995 and operates eight bottlingplants across the country, serving approximately 118,000 customers. Coca-Colaproduces, sells and distributes a wide range of beverages, including mineral water. All beverages produced in Italian plants are mainly sold within the country.The distribution is organized as follows: from the factory warehouses the products aredirectly delivered to large customers or to one of the ﬁve distribution centres of thecountry. From here, the goods can be delivered to customers, directly or througha network of transit points. Since production plants are highly specialized, there is aninter-plant ﬂow of products in order to ensure the complete product range at the factorywarehouses. The distribution network, with the only exception of factory warehouses,is outsourced to third parties. As shown in Figure 1, many of the identiﬁed initiatives towards a sustainablesupply chain are implemented. Considering the supply chain phase product design and packaging, the companyaims to reduce the amount of material used for packaging and to support packaginglightweighting, using bottles, cans and secondary unit loads characterized by reducedweight and volume. This led to a better vehicle utilization, a reduction in thepurchasing cost of materials and a reduction in generated wastes (over 100 tonnes ofPET and 1,800 tonnes of cardboard in 2009 over the previous year). As far as warehousing is regarded, the implemented initiatives are focused on factorywarehouses, since they are directly managed by the company. The rationalizationof the industrial lighting, through the adoption of automated systems, is plannedto be implemented in the next years. This initiative is embedded in the more
BIJ general energy saving programme, that has already ensured signiﬁcant economic and18,5 environmental beneﬁts. Other initiatives regard the outbound supply chain phase, aimed to reduce the environmental impact of distribution and transportation. Through the improvement of drivers’ skills, the use of cleaner trucks (e4 and e5) and a better vehicle utilization the company wants to conserve fuel and reduce emissions. Furthermore, supplies and724 ﬁnished goods are transported by rail wherever possible. The company measures and reports its sustainability performance. For example, the carbon footprint (total and per litre of product sold) is continuously monitored. Considering the emissions from ﬂeet and transportation, the performance is reviewed with data monthly gathered from 3PLs, since the distribution is outsourced. It is noteworthy to mention that, consistently with the transport rate used, the carbon footprint is not calculated for backhauls. Also, the planning department, that ensures that the most efﬁcient routes are taken, does not consider this part of the distribution network. The company’s perception of the cost impact of the above-described environmental sustainable initiatives is quite positive: the improvements achieved through product and packaging design, the energy saving programme and the initiatives towards the reduction of the carbon footprint are both economic and environmental. The only exception is represented by the use of rail transportation that, although ensuring a better environmental performance, is in Italy often disadvantageous from a cost perspective. 6.2 Electrolux Electrolux is a global leader in household appliances and appliances for professional use. Its operations are organized in three core businesses: major appliances, ﬂoor care appliances and professional products. Since many years, Electrolux Group has been committed to research for its products and processes better operational performance as well as environmental impact minimization. The group has been carrying out a worldwide environmental programme, called “Green spirit”, which aims to reduce energy, water and other resources consumption as well as CO2 emissions. The programme involves all activities/units along the supply chain of all business sectors. Managing logistics efﬁciently is for the company of utmost importance (De Toni and Zamolo, 2005). The distribution network is organized and managed by Electrolux Logistics Italy, a group entity acting as a third-party logistics provider serving customers both within and outside of the Electrolux Group. The Italian logistics network consists of four plants, with factory warehouses from which large customers are served by means of direct shipments. Smaller customers’ orders are fulﬁlled from central distribution centres through a network of transit points. The products sold within the Italian country are partly produced abroad and the foreign plant is responsible for their distribution to Italian warehouses. Since 2000, Electrolux Logistics Italy is certiﬁed ISO 14001. To this extent, it is worth to mention the recent introduction of audits to logistics partners, to monitor vehicle maintenance and disposal, use of alternative fuels, and driver skill improvement. With regard to product design and packaging, an initiative was implemented in 2007 with the aim to reduce the packaging volume, enabling a better vehicle utilization (an improvement in saturation of 30 per cent in certain vehicle types was achieved).
As far as warehousing is regarded, the implemented initiatives are focused on factory Benchmarkingwarehouses, since they are directly managed by Electrolux. Besides the rationalization supply chainof the industrial lighting, low-energy consumption forklift trucks are used. Great attention is paid to optimize the outbound supply chain performance, both by sustainabilityincreasing the vehicle ﬁll rate and by the planning of backhauls, trying to reduceempty running. Furthermore, the company is building environmental criteria into carrier selection 725and monitoring vehicle emissions. The carriers’ environmental management system ischecked through periodical audits while yearly target to increase the highest truckEuro categories is set by the company. Notwithstanding the increasing awarenessregarding this issue, it is challenging for the suppliers to fulﬁl the requirement as itresults in signiﬁcant investments in their ﬂeet. Also, this company measures and reports its sustainability performance.For example, the carbon footprint (total and per km travelled) is automaticallycalculated and continuously monitored for each transport mode, measuring both directand indirect emissions (according to a LCA approach). The Euro category of each truckis registered in the IT system at its arrival at the warehouse. The calculation of thecarbon footprint is somewhat hampered by the inability of the company to have fullvisibility on the transportation process. Therefore, while assessing the supply chaincarbon footprint, outsource operations can only be assessed by estimates. The company’s perception of the cost impact of the environmental sustainableinitiatives is positive in case of initiatives under the direct responsibility of Electrolux.Conversely, this perception becomes unknown when there is no full visibility on theprocess and the resources needed for the implementation of sustainable initiatives andthe related beneﬁts are shared with other companies. `6.3 Nestle Waters ` `Nestle Waters is one of the Nestle divisions operating in Italy, and is focussed on theproduction and distribution of water, soft drinks, aperitifs and digestives.This business unit has its own physical distribution network, which is almost `entirely managed by an external provider, owned for 51 per cent by Nestle Waters. The logistics network is composed of 12 plants, all of them with a factory warehousefrom which large customers are directly served. The complete product range is presentat the nine central warehouses, from which products can be delivered to the customers,directly or through a network of 30 wholesalers. The goods produced in Italian plants aresold within the country and abroad. However, this latter ﬂow is out of the scope of the `present research. Nestle Waters Italia does not purchase ﬁnished goods from foreignplants. The ﬂows of products from production plants to central warehousesor wholesalers’ warehouses are managed by the logistics service provider, whichorganize more than 180,000 trips per year. Reducing the weight of packaging and the use of secondary packaging constitutes apriority area for the company. Furthermore, they are exploring new packagingsolutions that could reduce the environmental impacts even more in the future. Initiatives related to the warehousing supply chain phase are not implemented.Conversely, great attention has been paid to the transportation phase. The company tries to use alternative transport modes wherever possible: railtransportation is currently used for north-south shipments or, sometimes, for product
BIJ deliveries to central warehouses. For its high adoption of the rail transportation mode, ´ ´ Nestle is one of the best performers within the Italian context. Nestle is participating in18,5 tests of new engines, new fuels, driver training sessions in order to reduce fuel consumption. In this direction, the company is also requiring drivers to use fuel additives for modern diesel engines (e.g. AdBlue). The ﬂeet for full truck load (FTL) transportation has been renewed in recent years and today most of the trucks used are726 e5. Moreover, new ways of loading trucks to maximize loading capacity are under examination: the company is currently involved in a pilot project on the introduction of high volume-carrying capacity vehicles, as already done in other European countries. Increasing the capacity of trucks can allow the company to consolidate loads, achieving greater vehicle ﬁll and cutting trucks-kms. Another strategic direction regards the development of multi-spring brands to bring production sites closer to areas of consumption, thereby reducing distances travelled and road trafﬁc. This solution would ensure a better performance from an environmental point of view that has to be balanced with a possible negative impact on costs, mainly due to a lower level of efﬁciency achievable in production plants. The group monitors the performances trough a multi-criteria environmental evaluation that includes water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and the use of energy from non-renewable resources. Once again the lack of a full visibility on local distribution prevents from an accurate calculation of the carbon footprint generated by the transportation process. The company’s perception of the cost impact of the environmental sustainable initiatives is positive, with the only exception of rail transportation, still disadvantageous in Italy from an economic point of view. This perception becomes negative in case of initiatives that entail a logistics network redesign. 6.4 Cross case analysis The examined cases, although limited in number, provide some interesting insights. As for warehousing, a low responsiveness has been generally observed. The reason is twofold. On the one hand, there is often a lack of awareness in terms of warehousing cost visibility (e.g. energy consumption), as warehouses often belong to third parties or are located within a production plant (with a consequent lack of disaggregated data). On the other hand, in case of companies adopting a carbon footprint computation system, warehousing seems to be the phase with the lowest environmental impact. It should be noticed that the examined sample does not present environmentally critical (i.e. high energy consuming) products, such as frozen goods. The adoption of sustainable initiatives dealing with transportation activities strongly depends on the level of visibility on the outbound supply chain. The three considered companies use both FTL for deliveries to large customers or to other facilities within the network and local distribution for small-sized deliveries. They beneﬁt from a complete visibility on the process and thus monitor the environmental impact of FTL transportation (i.e. carbon footprint). On the opposite, local distribution seems to be under-monitored, due to the fact that trucks normally belong to 3PLs, and therefore simultaneously distribute goods of multiple companies. This complexity may be extended to less-than-truck load (LTL) transportation, where forwarders are expected to collect and concurrently handle products of multiple companies.
From this viewpoint, a ﬁrst new research stream may be identiﬁed towards an Benchmarkingeffective sustainability of transportation activities. Indeed, sustainable solutions are supply chainoften hampered by the inability of the companies to have full visibility on the processand to assess their environmental and economic beneﬁt, since the transportation service sustainabilityis performed by an external provider who consolidates on a single truck the shipments ofdifferent customers. Furthermore, the single company, not being the owner of the trucksin most cases, is not willing to invest in renewing the ﬂeet of its logistics service provider 727in order to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, while examining the supplychain carbon footprint, the company do not include the effects of LTL transportationactivities, due to the complexity of isolating their related impact. A second new research stream may be identiﬁed, lying in the need for developing areporting system assessing the environmental impact of 3PL activities. This may allowtheir customers to achieve a higher awareness of the generated environmental impact.To date, to the best of authors’ knowledge, this aspect seems to be stillunder-represented. Lastly and closely interconnected with the issue regarding the system boundaries tobe considered for quantifying supply chain sustainability, it should be noticed that themajority of companies do not consider backhauls within the carbon footprint analysis. As regard to RQ3: RQ3. The criteria commonly used for priority-setting amongst different initiatives within the same supply chain phase.managers have declared that “green” initiatives have been initially adopted that weresimultaneously leading to cost reduction. All of the examined companies haveimplemented initiatives dealing with packaging (i.e. weight and volume decrease), thusto obtain a better vehicle utilisation and a reduction in the purchasing cost. Great attention has been paid to transportation planning procedures, thus to gainboth improvements in vehicle utilisation and decrease in travel distances. On theopposite, a lower pervasiveness has been detected in the adoption of 3PL selectioninitiatives. Companies are currently monitoring vehicle pollution ranking, but no caseshave been identiﬁed looking for cleaner trucks only, possibly because of potentialtransportation cost increase. As for the more “radical” initiatives (e.g. supply chain network redesign), thetrade-off between economic and environmental impact appears to be more signiﬁcant.To this extent, developing tools to support managers in the selection of the propersustainable initiatives seems to be a key aspect, together with the adoption ofenvironmental measurement systems.7. ConclusionsSupply chain sustainability has recently gained an increasing attention in the supplychain context both from the practitioners’ perspective and as a research area. In thepresent paper, a framework was developed, to address the increasing companies’ needfor analysing the available environmental alternatives and quantify the relatedsustainable efforts. In particular, through a literature review, the initiatives towardssupply chain sustainability were identiﬁed and an EPI to measure the adoptionby companies of these initiatives was proposed.
BIJ The framework was applied to ten companies, by examining their CER. Three of18,5 them were the subject of further in-depth interviews to provide additional insight into the level of understanding and awareness of sustainability issues within the companies. The paper offers a two-pronged contribution: on the one hand, it provides an answer to the three research questions; on the other hand, it offers a starting point for company728 benchmarking in terms of supply chain sustainability initiatives and their adoption level. Regard RQ1 (i.e. which phase within the supply chain is at the forefront in the development of more sustainable supply chains), a signiﬁcant attention has been detected on product/packaging design, whereas initiatives addressing warehousing and outbound supply chain seem to be less represented. As for RQ2 (i.e. which initiatives are currently undertaken by companies to build a sustainable supply chain) results show a signiﬁcant variability in terms of adoption level. Speciﬁcally, companies are gradually implementing more sustainable supply chains, thus selecting the initiatives to be progressively implemented among those available. Finally, regard RQ3 (i.e. criteria commonly used for priority-setting amongst different initiatives within the same supply chain phase), companies have declared that “green” initiatives have been initially adopted that were simultaneously leading to cost reduction. However, results also highlight that initiatives have been initially implemented whose application and beneﬁts could be fully monitored by the company itself. This has been chieﬂy experienced for the outbound supply chain (i.e. transportation) phase, which is one of the most critical phases from the environmental viewpoint. The results presented provide both practical and academics implications. First, with reference to supply chain managers, what has emerged is the importance of a supply chain viewpoint to look at environmental sustainability issues. Therefore, the need has been pointed out for measuring the impact in terms of the whole supply chain, rather than focussing on product families. In this way, companies would beneﬁt from the adoption of the examined sustainable initiatives. Second, it should be noticed that the adoption process of sustainable initiatives is usually a step-by-step procedure. As such, starting from the adoption of initiatives impacting on both an economic and an environmental level, it is possible to sensitize companies in terms of environmental issues, thus progressively developing a cultural background. Indeed, after the initial phase, it will be possible to extend the adoption also to those initiatives whose balance between beneﬁts and costs is less clear. Third, the present study has provided a complete list of initiatives towards supply chain sustainability, so that managers may be aware of the potential actions to take for each supply chain phase. From the academic viewpoint, the paper conﬁrms the importance of shifting the viewpoint from the mere LCA analysis also to the entire supply chain, as suggested by recent studies. Therefore, it seems important to further deepen the motivations to adoption by extending the sample considered for the analysis. Finally, the outcome of the present study opens two streams for future research: ﬁrst, to include also the effects of transports on consolidation of shipments of more than one company within the carbon footprint analysis, and, second, to develop a reporting system assessing the environmental impact of 3PL activities. Future research may
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