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Shippers embrace new sustainability initiative

Shareholder pressure is forcing publicly-held manufacturers to adhere to the highest levels of sustainability, said industry analysts and experts speaking yesterday a the International Warehouse Logistics Association 2012 Convention & Expo in San Francisco.
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
March 20, 2012

“Going Green” is no longer a choice for supply chain managers – it’s a given.

Shareholder pressure is forcing publicly-held manufacturers to adhere to the highest levels of sustainability, said industry analysts and experts speaking yesterday a the International Warehouse Logistics Association 2012 Convention & Expo in San Francisco.

“As logistics providers we can’t afford to wait for the government or its regulators to tell us how to be responsible corporate citizens,” said IWLA president and CEO, Joel Anderson. “Fortunately, we have not been standing still on this issue.”

That point was reinforced by a panel of comprising shippers, consultants, and academic leaders who addressed association’s “Sustainable Logistics Initiative,” (SLI).

“This is not about ‘tree-hugging,’” said Bruce Carlton, president and CEO of the National Industrial Transportation League. “When the League was asked to partner in this initiative, we recognized that this represents a unique metric-driven breakthrough. It’s an ideal public/private solution to ongoing supply chain concerns.”

Dale Rogers, a professor of logistics and supply chain management at Rutgers Business School, said the “sustainability movement” is where the “quality movement” was decades ago.

“The pressure for quality standards came from investors back in the 1980s,” he said. “And we are seeing the same thing with sustainability today. One need only look at the Dow Jones Sustainability Index to see evidence of this. No major multinational wants to be removed from that list.”

As reported here late last year, Logistics SLI participants – 3PL facilities – report and engage in a rigorous and objective measurement process. Continuous improvement of each facility is the benchmark. The entire process is verified by an outside independent organization, The Sustainable Supply Chain Foundation.

Lisa Harrington and Richard Bank – two foundation directors – said that shippers are now seeking formal recognition of sustainable practices.

“SLI compares apples to apples,” said Harrington. “This is not a ‘one-off’ operation.”

Bank concurred: “Compliance goes right to the bottom line.”

He added that companies engaged with the foundation do not sacrifice trade secrets or operating practices.

“SLI is another check in the box, when it comes to protection of brand and image,” said Bank. “Companies today can’t afford not to have something like this.”

About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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