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Preface to Sustainability in Supply Chain Management Casebook: Applications in SCM

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Steven M. Leon introduces his book, which looks at supply chain sustainability from the vantage point of the triple bottom line: social, environmental and financial.
This chapter is from the book


I am delighted to bring you Sustainability in Supply Chain Management Casebook: Applications in SCM. We have distinguished authors and researchers from prestigious institutions bringing you sustainability cases from real world events that challenge the brightest minds. Sustainability in the supply chain isn’t new, however the focus on sustainability in supply chains is on the rise. From corporate social responsibility, protecting the environment, managing scarce resources, maximizing stakeholder value, social and employee preservation; cases in supply chain sustainability are ripe for discussion.

We look at sustainability from the vantage point of the triple bottom line: social, environmental and financial (people, planet and profit). There are literally hundreds of sustainability decisions that can be made in which we have an incredible impact. Executives and managers have the opportunity to make these decisions in at least five areas of the supply chain: plan, source, make, deliver, and return. Sustainability decisions are made regarding the design of products and services, packaging and materials, which suppliers to use, location of suppliers, production methods to reduce waste, how much inventory to carry, what transportation modes to use, how much capacity to maintain, and what to do with products once they reach the end of their life cycle. As you can see, as a supply chain professional, if you want to make an impact in the area of sustainability, you can. There is no shortage of potential areas to make an impact; all you have to do is look for it.

Companies and organizations are faced with a myriad of conflicting objectives and goals. Business leaders must stay on top of fast moving parts that often move in different directions. Increasing commodity prices, scarce resources, and increasing tax payments can hinder sustainable profits. Worker safety initiatives, fair wages, employee training, community health and hazardous waste disposal can be costly. Executives will continue to find it necessary to manage drivers that add costs, while at the same time try to increase margins. This is not new however, what is becoming more essential is to include sustainability initiatives into organizational strategies. Sustainability strategies are necessary because customers, politicians and entire communities won’t stand for anything less.

Customers increasingly care about where products and services are made, how they are produced and delivered, what they are made of and who made them. Governments increasingly change regulations and implement new sustainability policies and regulations that impact both profit and non-profit organizations. Community leaders and their constituents demand that the welfare of their communities is sustainable. Communities expect companies to pay fair wages, pay fair taxes and dispose of hazardous materials or waste in an environmentally friendly manner.

Organizations are reviewing their strategies and operations from not only within their organizations; they are taking hard looks along their supply chains to include suppliers, customers, and ultimate consumers. We have identified key areas in which our cases provide many opportunities for in-depth discussions regarding sustainability in supply chains. As with many business decisions, there are no clear cut, one best decision for every company in every situation. Many factors need to be addressed and as such, we have compiled a list of excellent cases where executives and managers must decide what is best for them, their supply chain partners and the communities in which they reside and operate.

In closing, I would like to thank all of the case authors for their hard work and exceptional cases. Without them we would not have been able to provide this engaging publication to you. I would like also to thank Pearson Publishing for all of their support. I hope you enjoy the cases we have provided. I am sure you will find them full of discussion topics which will engage your students and class participants.

  • Thank you,
  • Steve Leon, PhD
  • University of Central Florida
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