Helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint
A supply chain – or how businesses move products and services around – can be responsible for up to 75% of a company's carbon footprint. Researchers at the University's Management School are looking into ways of reducing the carbon emissions associated with commercial supply chains, and ultimately aim to understand how companies can change how they operate in order to maximise output, whilst also minimising economic costs and their environmental footprint.
The UK aims to reduce Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20-24 billion tonnes by 2050. With this goal in mind, the Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM) Research Group at The University of Sheffield has joined forces with Sheffield business SEAMS and the European Centre for Total Quality Management (ECTQM) at Bradford University, on a collaborative project to lower the carbon footprint of commercial supply chains.
A supply chain connects organisations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain management is increasingly being recognised as a key differentiator in business competitiveness, providing the opportunity to offer, at the same time, better customer services and greater cost-effectiveness.
Past efforts at supply chain intervention have largely focused on the operations of single companies. This has meant that carbon savings typically come from efficiencies within each company´s operations only and will not impact on the rest of the supply chain network. To redress this, Professor Lenny Koh is leading a team in a unique approach to the review of supply chains, which takes a holistic, systems view of the whole supply chain process in order to optimise output, known as the balanced green supply chain system (BGSCS) approach. Through identifying 'hotspots' the team have succeeded in making supply chains more efficient. In addition, by focusing on multiple companies operating in a single supply chain, the team can calculate the carbon footprint of each product, thereby allowing companies to work collaboratively to make carbon savings right across the supply chain network.
Professor Lenny Koh explains: "Using the WiLCO software tool, developed by our project partners SEAMs, we have been successful in allowing companies to map their current emissions sources, develop more environmentally friendly products and change their current business processes to capture new markets and retain existing customers. Ultimately these strategies can be optimised to identify the least cost strategy to meet defined performance and environmental standards".
The team are now working on added functionality for their WiLCO software which will enable companies to prioritise their investment in order to further reduce their carbon footprint, CO2 emissions and energy consumption. Professor Lenny Koh again: "By considering the economic, environmental and social aspects of supply chains, our research could help companies to produce new, more environmentally products and services, leading to new sales, reduced emissions, and new jobs and increased job security".
The project draws on work currently being conducted at the University's Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM) research centre, which Professor Koh directs with her colleague Professor John Cullen. Professor Koh also leads and manages several highly complex, trans-disciplinary initiatives and projects on low carbon supply chains through the £50million Centre for Low Carbon Futures (CLCF) and a White Rose Sustainability Science Network. The CLF draws on the expertise of the world class researchers in the region as a focal point for understanding and demonstrating how business can evolve and adapt in a low-carbon world.
Professor Lenny Koh concludes: "Both climate change and resource depletion will impact directly on human well-being, quality of life and the whole supply chain. With our research, we are providing companies with efficiency gains throughout the value chain, economically, socially and environmentally. The target to meet the 80% CO2 reduction is not impossible. The role played by Kyoto, the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 and World Leaders are very important driving forces to collaboratively address the climate change challenge. Our research will ensure that addressing this challenge makes good sense to government, industry and the wider society".
For further information please contact Professor Lenny Koh at:
email : firstname.lastname@example.org