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Creating a Transparent Supply Chain Best Practices

This University of Tennessee Global Supply Chain Institute whitepaper addresses the key issues in supply chain sustainability transparency, it presents the results that demonstrate the relationship between sustainable supply chain visibility, traceability, integrity, and transparency. By The Global Supply Chain Institute

February 9, 2017

Supply chain leaders across the globe are building more sustainable supply chains.

Ethical, business, and waste elimination/cost savings goals are driving this work.

Global supply chain executives understand that sustainability brings its own set of challenges, including:

  • The need to make rapid changes to the supply system to make them more sustainable in response to stakeholder, regulatory, and business leader requirements
  • Providing more information on products, materials, manufacturing processes, supply practices, and warehousing/distribution processes in response to business leaders’ need to be more transparent with consumers
  • Changing supply systems to create safer and more sustainable products in response to new government regulations
  • Sharing progress on the supply chain sustainability journey in a way that positively resonates with their key stakeholders.

It becomes readily apparent that information transparency and communication are key to overcoming these challenges.

This University of Tennessee Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) whitepaper addresses the key issues in supply chain sustainability transparency.

To accomplish this, we conducted academic and applied research, surveying sixteen best-in-class supply chains and companies, including more than forty professionals, to establish a set of best practices related to sustainable supply chains and transparency.

The research showed us that supply chain professionals are busy working on solutions to a multitude of sustainability issues including:

  • How to make sustainability projects drive total cost improvements
  • How to prioritize sustainability projects
  • How to ensure sustainable supply systems are built efficiently from the start of the product design phase
  • How to form new partnerships and relationships with suppliers and third party providers (3PLs) to form end-to-end sustainable supply systems
  • How to create and build sustainable plant and manufacturing systems (zero waste)
  • How to select high quality, scientifically based organizations for endorsements and audit capability
  • How to lead community work on sustainable, ethical labor practices and environmental zero-waste systems

Throughout the interview process we recognized that transparency was irretrievably linked to sustainability. Without the growing importance of sustainability in the business world, this transparency discussion might not be taking place.

In this report, we present results that demonstrate the relationship between sustainable supply chain visibility, traceability, integrity, and transparency.

Further, we make the case that supply chain transparency - and the underlying tenets of supply chain integrity - creates the key foundation to sustainable supply chain management.

Following the research results, we present a best practices section that shows what best-in-class companies are utilizing to create excellence.


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