Sample Case Study Paper on Supply Chain Sustainability

Supply chain sustainability is an activity that many companies have considered for a long time. It is a practice recognized by many professionals as being able to steer the operations of an organization to the expectations of its owners. Supply chain sustainability is a process that encompasses all departments or sectors of any organization and should be an activity that is carried out by all employees of the organization. To achieve effective supply chain sustainability in any organization, the management must possess all the necessary knowledge on how to carry out operations that lead to success in the area. Therefore, this paper is a discussion of supply chain sustainability and its advantages to the Practice Makes Perfect (PMP) organization. The paper discusses key concepts of sustainability with reference to the supply chain, describes relevant sustainability initiatives that the company may implement as well as offers guidance on inhibitors and facilitators that should be considered to ensure successful implementation of the initiatives

Concepts of sustainability in supply chain

Many business organizations and professionals are for the notion that supply chain sustainability is a general organizational affair in the sense that for there to be the effective achievement of sustainability, every individual in the organization must be fully involved (Ganashan, Jayaraman, & Boon, 2012, p42). The action that leads to sustainability must engage managers, stakeholders, employees, customers, and direct suppliers.  It is also believed that sustainability has direct effect on costs of production, maintenance, marketing, manufacturing, and advertisement among others.


It also directly affects other activities such as customer relations and organizational development. Sustainability is as well believed to be a driving force that any organization must consider when trying to take their business operations and presence to the global area. This is because; the business is able to carry out an effective marketing and market research using minimal cost due to supply chain sustainability (Ganashan, Jayaraman, & Boon, 2012, p42). The final concept is that sustainability is achievable if the firm works directly with the main supplier.

Another key concept of sustainability is innovation. PMP should be able to identify people who are able to be innovative; they should come up with new ideas that can help the organization develop creative ways of development.  Through supply chain sustainability, PMP is able to realize clean production which involves reducing, managing, and even minimizing the production of waste within the industry (, 2009). Clean production also leads to reusing product wastes, reclaiming products at the end of their life cycle, reducing or preventing pollution at its source, as well as the ability to substitute for toxic and hazardous waste materials. PMP will also be able to use the concept of clean production to reduce or eliminate waste and potential product pollutants in their goods and services and during transportation to the market (Evans & Collier, 2011).

The concept of reverse logistics will enable PMP to effectively deal with issues of returned goods to the company. They will know how to manage reverse logistic issues and how these problems directly affect their clients. Being able to control the issue of returned goods also makes it possible for PMP to maintain their profit margins without incurring losses because of returned goods (Ringle, Blerker & Kersten, 2013).  Closed-loop manufacturing is a sustainability concept that will allow PMP to manufacture goods using renewable energy which does not release waste and pollutants.


Sustainability initiatives that the company may implement

The first step that an organization can take in order to achieve supply chain sustainability is to engage and consult the staff members. Ewer, Cuthbertson, and Cetinkaya (2011, p105) state that generally the staff of any organization are capable of enabling the implementation of supply chain management initiatives but they can also be a stumbling block towards success. Therefore, these authors recommend that the management should fully involve employees in the supply chain sustainability implementation procedures. This is because the supply chain sustainability process involves making changes that directly affect the function of employees in the organization. These changes include things like special, technical, and organizational changes (Ewer, Cuthbertson, and Cetinkaya, 2011, p105).

The second initiative is to involve customers in the sustainability supply chain initiative. Absorb the clients in this practice is important because any changes made especially in the type of products sold in the firm directly affects the customers. It is important to let the customers know of the changes in goods sold at the company so that they can easily add them to their daily purchases (Ewer, Cuthbertson, and Cetinkaya, 2011, p105). Clients are the major factors that enable the company to clear all their supplies by placing demand on them and purchasing.

The people of the organization also need to speak and understand the board’s language. Research states that the management board of the company forms the highest rank of decision-making of any company. The managers also take responsibility for all strategic decisions of the company that touches on political and cultural aspects of the firm. Hence it is important to work together with them in order to achieve sustainability in the organization (Leon, Pavelich & Soyka, 2013, p90).

Managers are aware of all the operations that go on in the various department of a firm, they are also in daily contact with all the employees as well as their up line leaders, they have the entire map of the organization together and will greatly influence the sustainability needs for PMP (Leon, Pavelich & Soyka, 2013, p90). The managers will be able to know the amount of financial involvement that the process will require as well as single out the department that should undergo sustainability first. They are as well able of drawing the most effective plan for the achievement and implementation of the activity.

In an effort to achieve sustainability in the firm, the professionals must also involve their direct suppliers. Suppliers are self entities or organization that operates outside the firm hence they are not exposed to direct managerial controls of PMP (Ivanova & Wullmuth, 2014). Teaming up with direct suppliers of the firm enables PMP to build a stronger relationship with them which also makes it possible for the organization to achieve intercompany sustainability initiatives in the upstream chain of supplies. The relationship will enable the firm to either increase, decrease to maintain their current level of supply in order to achieve sustainability. They might also be able to renegotiate costs and other factors that directly affect supply chain sustainability in the firm (Ivanova & Wullmuth, 2014).

Inhibitors and facilitators to consider ensuring successful implementation of the initiatives

There are many factors in an organization that can inhibit the aim and objectives of achieving sustainability in any firm. The initial such factor is the employees. As stated earlier, sustainability leads to change and as it is known, most people do not accept change easily. The case of PMP indicated that the finance director termed the need of sustainability as nonsense while the supply chain manager and marketing director recognized the need for sustainability involve but stated that they were too busy to handle more work. Some stakeholders might not be up for the notion of sustainability quest due to a lack of proper knowledge.

Another hindering factor may come from the financial aspect of the firm. They might be willing to initiate sustainability activities but lack the funds to do so hence it is important to consider the budget for such goals before starting the.


Supply chain sustainability is capable of taking the selling and production operations of the firm to the next level. It is important for the firm to involve all employees, direct suppliers, and their customers. They should consider how sustainability changes will affect daily operation in the company and hence come up with effective measures of solving them. Those involved with sustainability initiatives must also point out stabling blocks ad be able to uproot them before they stall or completely inhibit the process (Leon, 2013).

Evans, J. & Collier, D. (2011). OM 3. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning
Ewer,G.,  Cuthbertson, R. & Cetinkaya,B. (2011). Sustainable supply chain management: practical ideas for moving towards best practice. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media
Ganashan, R., Jayaraman, V. & Boon,T. (2012). Sustainable Supply Chains: Models, Methods, and Public Policy Implications. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media
Ivanova, V. & Wullmuth, J. (2014). 6 steps for a more sustainable supply chain.
Leon, S. (2013). Sustainability in supply chain management casebook: applications in SCM. New York: FT Press
Leon, S., Pavelich R. & Soyka, P. (2013). Sustainability in Supply Chain Management (Collection). New York: FT Press ( 2009). A conceptual framework for adopting supply sustainability in the supplu chain.
Ringle, C., Blerker, T. & Kersten, W. (2013). Sustainability and collaboration in supply chain management: A comprehensive insight into current management approaches. New York, NY: BoD – Books on Demand