Oct 20, 2014

Resource Depletion and Green Supply Chain Management

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Resource depletion and green supply chain managementAcross the globe, rising temperatures are causing changes in weather patterns. At the same time, population growth and the rise of the middle class in countries like China and India are contributing to the depletion of natural resources at rates never before seen. Water supplies are drying up, causing shortages that threaten human and economic health – and, increasingly, people are seeing barriers to accessing clean water and sanitation.



China and Germany Focus on Renewable Energy

 

Numerous nations have undertaken ambitious projects to slow the pace of global warming and resource depletion. China has set a goal of using renewable energy for 15% of its energy needs by 2020. In the city of Rizhao on the northern coastline of China, the provincial government provided subsidies and research help to the solar panel industry. It also passed legislation to promote the use of solar panels and educated residents on the advantages of solar power. Today, 99% of the city’s residents use solar water heaters, and streetlights and traffic signals are powered by solar.


Solar power has enabled Rizhao to reduce its reliance on coal, while the volume of pollutants the city discharges has declined. It is one of China’s top 10 cities for air quality.


Germany has also been a leader in renewable energy. The country has passed progressive laws, including goals of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by 40% and generating 35% of its electricity needs through renewable sources, both by 2020. Germany’s renewable energy industry is huge, with one of the world’s largest wind power sectors, as well as an impressive solar power capacity. These efforts have created jobs, reduced reliance on fossil fuels and cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.


The Challenges of Implementing a Renewable Energy Policy

 

managing resource depletion with green supply chainsIt’s clear that legislation and government support have been imperative to China and Germany’s renewable energy efforts. But in a tough political and economic environment, politics and money are often the biggest obstacles to implementing progressive energy initiatives. Although people see the benefits of renewable energy and business sustainability, they are not always willing to pay for it. However, savvy companies are developing innovations that can conserve resources and save money. Rather than choosing between the environment and the bottom line, they are finding ways to satisfy both.


One example is green supply chains, which take a holistic approach to reducing impacts on the environment at every step in the process of manufacturing goods and moving them to the marketplace. Green supply chain management starts with partnering with suppliers. Some companies approach their suppliers with a list of goals, including:

 

  • Reducing carbon emissions throughout the manufacturing process
  • Procuring raw materials from sustainable sources
  • Reducing the carbon footprint of transporting raw materials and finished goods
  • Increasing the use of recycled parts and materials
  • Finding new uses for waste products

 

Two areas of green supply chain management that require particular care are compliance and analytics. Suppliers must be carefully supervised to ensure they are meeting established standards. It’s also important to continuously analyze the impact suppliers are having on a company’s environmental and financial goals.


Overcoming Challenges is Vital to Reducing Resource Depletion

Stemming the depletion of the planet’s resources will require commitment from governments, private firms and consumers. Increasing use of renewable energy and innovations in green supply chain management will go a long way.


There are challenges, however, including an aversion to new taxes and regulations, reduced government support in light of economic difficulties, and lack of consumer awareness and commitment to change. But as Germany, China and other nations are demonstrating, a long-term view – plus subsidies, education and incentives – can be the catalysts to huge advances in protecting the planet’s resources.

 

Dean Vella

Dean Vella

This guest post was provided by Dean Vella who writes for University Alliance on topics pertaining to the subjects of supply chain management and business process training.

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