Only about 10 percent of the companies recently surveyed by Accenture are actively managing the carbon footprint of their supply chains. And just 37 percent of supply chain executives are measuring the levels of carbon emissions in their networks. On the bright side, 86 percent have undertaken at least one green initiative in their warehouses, mostly in the areas of recycling, greater reliance on natural light and increased use of energy-efficient bulbs. Thirty-eight percent have applied green techniques to their transportation fleets, embracing such options as streamlined vehicle design, green fuels and hybrid engines. "The study findings demonstrate that the vast majority of organizations are taking steps to reduce carbon emissions," says Jonathan Wright, senior executive in Accenture's supply chain management practice. "However, most are implementing carbon-reduction solutions without understanding their carbon footprint and are therefore unable to measure [the] real impact those solutions are having on their emissions." Conducted in the middle of last year, the survey covered 245 supply chain executives with logistics, warehousing and transportation responsibilities.
Another new report from Accenture, released jointly with the World Economic Forum, identifies those areas where carbon-abatement initiatives can have the greatest impact. In particular, the report highlights the contribution that logistics and transportation can make to emission reductions. Activities associated with that sector account for an estimated 5 percent of the 50,000 megatons of carbon-dioxide emissions generated annually by all human activity, Accenture said.
The report identifies 13 "commercially viable" areas for cutting down on carbon emissions within the supply chain. The five most promising opportunities, in terms of abatement potential and implementation feasibility, are: clean-vehicle technologies (impacting 175 megatons of CO2), slowing down the supply chain (171 megatons), new initiatives in package design (132 megatons), optimizing networks (124 megatons) and energy-efficient buildings (93 megatons). In addition, the report offers a number of recommendations for logistics providers, shippers and buyers looking to "de-carbonize" their extended supply chains. Recommended actions on the logistics side include the adoption of new energy-efficient technologies, improved training, modal switches, greater use of recycling, development of home-delivery offerings and promotion of carbon offsetting for shipments. Recommendations for shippers and buyers include gaining a better understanding of the carbon impact of manufacturing through alternative sourcing, reduction of packaging materials, acquisition of better auditing tools and increased use of load-sharing.
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