Leveraging Opportunities for Developing Environmentally Responsible Supply Chains Through the Application of Digital Technologies

Leveraging Opportunities for Developing Environmentally Responsible Supply Chains Through the Application of Digital Technologies

Yanamandra Ramakrishna, Babita Srivatsava, Siti Norida Wahab, Mehak Vasta
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-0669-7.ch005
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An environmentally responsible supply chain refers to the integration of environmentally friendly practices and principles into the various stages of the supply chain process. This includes sourcing raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, and end-of-life disposal or recycling. The goal is to minimize the environmental impact and meeting customer demands, maintaining economic viability. Sustainable sourcing, energy efficiency, waste reduction, transportation efficiency, collaboration with suppliers, product design for sustainability, compliance with environmental regulations transparency and reporting, continuous improvement are some of the supply chain practices to make supply chains environmentally responsible. Due to their inherent weaknesses the existing linear and traditional supply chains are found to be not focusing on the environment. Therefore, there is a need for exploring the opportunities to make supply chains to be environmentally responsible. This chapter focuses on the application of digital technologies to make supply chains environmentally responsible.
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Supply chain responsibility has evolved beyond mere logistics and procurement; it now represents a pivotal avenue for organizations to foster sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical business practices. This chapter explores the burgeoning opportunities for supply chains to become responsible actors in today's global marketplace. In an era marked by increasing environmental and social concerns, supply chain responsibility has emerged as a powerful tool for organizations to make a positive impact. Opportunities for supply chain responsibility encompass a wide range of dimensions, including environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing, labor practices, and community engagement (Clarke et al., 2019).

The transition towards a responsible supply chain can yield several advantages (Cruz et al., 2017; Handfield, et al., 2019). Notably, organizations can enhance their brand reputation, attract conscientious consumers, and secure investments by demonstrating a commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. Moreover, a responsible supply chain can contribute to cost reduction through streamlined operations, improved energy efficiency, and reduced waste. Such strategies can also boost resilience by mitigating risks associated with supply chain disruptions, regulatory changes, and reputational damage. Key opportunities in supply chain responsibility include ethical sourcing of materials and products, which encompasses fair labor practices and responsible extraction of resources Mena et al., (2018). Additionally, responsible supply chains have the potential to lead innovation in environmental sustainability, adopting clean energy sources, minimizing emissions, and optimizing transportation and distribution processes.

While the opportunities are substantial, organizations must navigate several challenges to effectively implement responsible supply chain strategies. These challenges include supply chain transparency, supplier collaboration, compliance with evolving regulations, and the need for comprehensive data analytics to track and measure social and environmental impact. In summary, the evolving landscape of supply chain responsibility presents a plethora of opportunities for organizations to align their business practices with sustainability and ethical values. The benefits of responsible supply chains are not limited to brand enhancement but extend to cost reduction and long-term resilience (Smith et al., 2017). However, to realize these opportunities, organizations must address the challenges that arise in the pursuit of responsible supply chain strategies. This chapter provides a glimpse into the multifaceted world of supply chain responsibility, emphasizing the immense potential for organizations to create a positive and lasting impact in an ever-changing global business environment.


Based on the above introduction and analysis of existing supply chain scenarios, this research is done to achieve the following objectives:

  • To perform a literature review to identify the current status of linear supply chains

  • To identify the issues and challenges in the existing supply chain systems

  • To explore approaches to make supply chains to be environmentally responsible

  • To provide solutions to redesign supply chains to make them environmentally responsible



The responsibility of supply chains has become a central issue in contemporary business practices as concerns regarding environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing, and social responsibility have gained prominence. This section aims to explore the key factors that contribute to the perception of existing supply chains as irresponsibly managed. While some organizations have made commendable efforts to adopt responsible supply chain practices, a significant portion of global supply chains still face persistent challenges that hinder their ability to align with sustainability and ethical objectives (Hofmann et al., 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Closed Loop Supply Chain: A closed-loop supply chain is a system that seeks to minimize waste and promote sustainability by creating a circular flow of materials. In a closed-loop supply chain, products, components, and materials are recycled, refurbished, or remanufactured to extend their life cycle and reduce the need for new raw materials.

Circular Economy: A circular economy is an economic model designed to minimize waste, make the most of resources, and promote sustainability. In contrast to the traditional linear economy, which follows a “take, make, dispose” pattern, a circular economy focuses on closing the loop by emphasizing the reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery of materials throughout the entire lifecycle of products.

Responsible Supply Chain: A responsible supply chain, also known as a sustainable or ethical supply chain, refers to the integration of social, environmental, and ethical considerations into the practices and decisions of a supply chain.

Circular Supply Chain: A circular supply chain is a concept rooted in the principles of the circular economy, which is an alternative to the traditional linear economy.

Environmentally Responsible Supply Chain: An environmentally responsible supply chain, also known as a green or sustainable supply chain, integrates environmental considerations and practices to minimize the negative ecological impacts associated with sourcing, production, and distribution.

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