Supply Chain Practice

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Sustainable supply chain management across the UK private sector Helen Walker
Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK, and

Neil Jones
Alliance Boots, Nottingham, UK
Abstract Purpose – Increasingly, private sector companies are aiming to buy and supply products and services in a sustainable way, termed “sustainable supply chain management” (sustainable SCM), using purchasing and supply to reduce negative impacts on the environment, economy and society. There is often a gap between rhetoric and reality, with companies often accused of paying green lip service to sustainable SCM. This research aims to explore sustainable SCM issues in companies that have been recognized as leaders in their sectors, and investigate what factors influence sustainable SCM, and how practice might change in the future. Design/methodology/approach – Current practice in sustainable SCM and predictions for the future were explored in case studies of seven UK companies, through semi-structured interviews with purchasers and CSR practitioners, and secondary data collection from reports and websites. Sectors included aerospace, retail, pharmaceuticals, and food and drink. Findings – Companies were mapped onto a typology of approaches to sustainable SCM, based on internal and external enablers and barriers. Companies were classified as Internal focusers, Reserved players, External responders, and Agenda setters. Predictions for the future of sustainable SCM within the companies were also explored. Research limitations/implications – The typology could be further explored through a survey of firms from different sectors, and with firms not seen as leading in their field. Originality/value – The paper draws on contingency theory and existing sustainable SCM literature to develop a typology of approaches to sustainable SCM. The paper draws useful lessons from leading companies for practitioners seeking to implement sustainable SCM. Keywords Case studies, Corporate responsibility, Sustainable supply chains, Sustainable development, Supply chain management, United Kingdom, Multiple retailers Paper type Research paper

Introduction
It is no longer enough for firms to be concerned only with seeking a profit - they should also give something back to society at large, minimize their negative impacts on the environment and have some responsibility for the behaviour of their suppliers on issues such as child labour, health and safety and pollution. Supply chain management (SCM) is the management of a network of interconnected organisations involved in the provision of product and services to end customers (Harland, 1996). There has been increasing interest in recent years in how organisations address sustainability in their supply chains, which has been described as SCM that incorporates the triple bottom line of sustainability. Sustainable SCM means that organisations are held responsible for the environmental and social performance of their suppliers. In this paper we define sustainable SCM as the pursuit of sustainability objectives through the purchasing and supply process, incorporating social, economic and environmental The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1359-8546.htm

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal 17/1 (2012) 15– 28 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1359-8546] [DOI 10.1108/13598541211212177]

elements. Sustainable SCM incorporates a variety of concepts such as environmental or green SCM, where firms seek to minimize negative environmental impacts in their supply chains. It also includes the consideration of social issues in the supply chain, such as ensuring suppliers have decent working conditions, or ensuring goods are sourced ethically and fairly along the supply chain. The economic aspect of sustainable SCM can include buying from local suppliers to support local economic regeneration. Organisations vary in the focus of their sustainable supply...
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