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Collaborating for a More Sustainable Supply Chain

Government and private industry can work together to create more sustainable supply chains. That’s the foundational belief of a General Services Administration (GSA) initiative called the Sustainable Supply Chain Community of Practice.

By ·

On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order entitled “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Rather than debating
the contentious issue of climate change, the policy statement made greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions a priority for the government and tasked the General ervices Administration (GSA), the government’s procurement agency, to reduce the GHGs from the federal supply chain. On the surface, the order appeared to fall in a long line of Executive Orders, issued under different administrations, that addresses sustainability primarily through an environmental lens. Clearly, environmental protection is a societal good and accordingly, the government should lead the way.

The surprising result from implementing the order, however, has been the realization that businesses have found a strong economic case for sustainability beyond merely responding to environmental mandates. Increasingly, emphasis on sustainable supply chains, ones that reduce resource-related inefficiencies and risks, are seen as a competitive necessity. It is this awareness that is driving leading businesses—from Coca Cola to Johnson Controls to Dell and Alcoa—to employ sustainable supply chain practices. Accordingly, GSA announced in March 2012 at a Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) White House event the launch of a Sustainable Supply Chain Community of Practice. The goal of the initiative: to provide federal agencies and their small business suppliers an avenue to learn from companies that have some of the most advanced supply chains in the world.

Sustainability represents an ongoing journey rather than a destination—even among global leaders. And at this early stage for the federal government, we can only
explain the origins and the emerging sketch of the future vision. But, by drawing upon the experiences of public and private organizations the world over, we hope to
demonstrate the value of the path now taken.

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Download Article PDF

On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order entitled “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Rather than debating the contentious issue of climate change, the policy statement made greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions a priority for the government and tasked the General Services Administration (GSA), the government’s procurement agency, to reduce the GHGs from the federal supply chain. On the surface, the order appeared to fall in a long line of Executive Orders, issued under different administrations, that addresses sustainability primarily through an environmental lens. Clearly, environmental protection is a societal good and accordingly, the government should lead the way.

The surprising result from implementing the order, however, has been the realization that businesses have found a strong economic case for sustainability beyond merely responding to environmental mandates. Increasingly, emphasis on sustainable supply chains, ones that reduce resource-related inefficiencies and risks, are seen as a competitive necessity. It is this awareness that is driving leading businesses—from Coca Cola to Johnson Controls to Dell and Alcoa—to employ sustainable supply chain practices. Accordingly, GSA announced in March 2012 at a Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) White House event the launch of a Sustainable Supply Chain Community of Practice. The goal of the initiative: to provide federal agencies and their small business suppliers an avenue to learn from companies that have some of the most advanced supply chains in the world.

Sustainability represents an ongoing journey rather than a destination—even among global leaders. And at this early stage for the federal government, we can only explain the origins and the emerging sketch of the future vision. But, by drawing upon the experiences of public and private organizations the world over, we hope to demonstrate the value of the path now taken.

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Article Topics

SeptemberOctober 2012 · All Topics
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