In the evolving landscape of global commerce, the concept of green supply chains has come to the fore, representing a paradigm shift in how businesses think about their operations from an environmental perspective. A green supply chain is one that integrates environmental thinking into every facet, from raw materials sourcing to product design, manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and finally disposal or recycling. It seeks to minimize ecological footprints, reduce waste, and promote sustainability at each stage. Its origins can be traced back to increasing global awareness about environmental degradation, coupled with consumer demand for sustainable products and regulatory pressures.
This eco-centric approach directly aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Established in 2015, the SDGs are a set of 17 integrated goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all" by 2030. These goals range from eliminating poverty to promoting gender equality, and crucially, several of them address environmental sustainability directly. For instance, Goal 12, "Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns", intersects perfectly with the principles of a green supply chain. This goal, among others, advocates for the efficient use of natural resources, reduction of waste through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse, and the reduction of harmful chemicals and emissions in the air, water, and soil.
When businesses adopt a green supply chain model, they are not only committing to environmental responsibility but are also actively contributing to the realization of these SDGs. For instance, by sourcing raw materials sustainably, companies can contribute to Goal 15, which aims to “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems”. Similarly, by implementing eco-friendly transportation and logistics, they can aid in achieving Goal 13, which seeks to “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.
Furthermore, green supply chains can spur economic advantages for businesses. Sustainable operations often lead to cost savings in the long run, especially as resources become scarcer and more expensive. Moreover, with a growing consumer base that is environmentally conscious, having a green supply chain becomes a unique selling proposition, allowing businesses to distinguish themselves in a crowded market and foster customer loyalty.
However, transitioning to a green supply chain is not without challenges. There can be initial costs associated with adopting new technologies or practices, and sometimes a complete overhaul of business operations might be required. Additionally, there may be a lack of visibility or traceability in the supply chain, making it hard to ascertain the environmental impact at every stage. Yet, with the mounting urgency of global environmental issues and the moral imperative to act, the move towards green supply chains is not just a business strategy but a necessity.
Green supply chains serve as a bridge between current business practices and a sustainable future, epitomizing the essence of the SDGs. As the world collectively endeavors to meet the targets set out by the United Nations, green supply chains will undoubtedly play an indispensable role in steering global commerce towards sustainability.
Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Volume 117, January 2023
Current Opinion in Food Science, Volume 30, December 2019
Enteric viruses are an important food safety concern and have been associated with many foodborne disease outbreaks. Norovirus and Hepatitis A virus have been implicated in majority of outbreaks; however, other foodborne viruses such as Hepatitis E virus, Sapovirus and Rotavirus can also present a risk to humans. Viral foodborne disease outbreaks have typically been associated with foods served raw including shellfish, fruits and vegetables. The contamination of food by viruses can occur anywhere in the supply chain.