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Sustainability can be defined as "everything that affects the environment," says Cassler. The word is taking on a greater sense of urgency, not just to government regulators, but to the general public as well. "Consumers today are demanding that the companies they purchase from have a green environmental policy," he says.
Regulations and expectations in that area are more sweeping than ever before. Cassler cites the move toward LEED-certified buildings for manufacturing and warehousing. Companies are being closely scrutinized for their environmental policies at every stage of the supply chain.
To be sure, promoting sustainability in one's operations involves a degree of pain. Companies view the rash of environmental regulations as upping their cost of operations. Even socially aware shareholders want their investments to make a profit. But they're also keen on having their businesses draw on "clean" energy.
Natural gas is becoming a popular alternative to petroleum and coal, but even that option has its environmental consequences, particularly as it involves the use of "fracking" to extract gas from deep in the earth. Earthquakes and water pollution are among the concerns of environmentalists who oppose that invasive technique.
Other methods for greening the supply chain focus on transportation, in particular efforts to embrace new types of fuels and engines, and reduce truck idling time. But the ability of companies to assess their entire carbon footprint is far from complete. "It's a work in process," says Cassler, although "everybody's aware of it now."
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, international trade, sustainability, global logistics, logistics management, warehouse management, retail supply chain, supply chain risk management
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