Category Archives: environment

A framework for ‘biomass-to-energy supply chains’

Reference: Martin Svanberg, Árni Halldórsson, (2013) “Supply chain configuration for biomass-to-energy: the case of torrefaction”, International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Vol. 7 Iss: 1, pp.65 – 83


The story of “stuff” – insert “closed loop supply chain”

Whether you call it the story of stuff, materials economy, or the story of sustainable, closed loop supply chains, this clip is a nice illustration of how we have traditionally looked at supply chains and their “externalities” and what that does to us. Watch it!


Ash not Cash: Volcano eruption & supply chain disruptions

Volcano eruption – a new ‘unknown-unknown’ on the list of root causes of supply chain disruptions

In most of the courses I teach I include a session on “supply chain disruption”, exploring with students the potential impact of events that cannot be categorised as mere fluctuation in demand/supply.

The list of unknown-unknown is developing fast, and to that we can now add the volcano eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.

Today, the whole UK airspace has been completely closed for the first time, and airports are being closed in Northern Europe. This will inevitably disrupt flow of goods and materials in various supply chains. The question is not only what and how much the impact will be, the knock-on effects must also be considered.


ps. do you know of supply chain operations affected by the ash flow? I’m doing research on supply chain disruptions, and would be interested to hear from you:

Green and healthy supply chains

Trendspotting on our CFP wall points again at two current focal themes of research, “green supply chain management” and “health care supply chains”. Here’s a more focused assembly of the CFPs.

Green supply chain management: Mar 31 is the deadline of two calls for papers on this topic (sustainability with a call on “Supply chain sustainability“ and Transportation Research Part E on “Green supply chain management“). It then follows with a CFP for the African Journal of Economic and Management Studies on “CSR in Africa“ (Jun 30), and another for the Journal of Cleaner Production on “Sustainability management beyond corporate boundaries“ (Aug 31). The International Journal of Production Economics has two at almost the same time, “Green manufacturing and distribution in the fashion and apparel industries“ (Sep 30) and “Sustainable development of manufacturing and services“ (Oct 30). Timely enough, the International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management dedicated its first two numbers of 2010 to sustainability in supply chains. Now even marketing journals are waking up for the topic, see e.g. the Journal of Marketing Management CFP on “Re-visiting contemporary issues in green/ethical marketing” (due in a year, Mar 1, 2011).

Health care operations and SCM: Apr 6 is the first deadline to note here, with a CFP for the European Journal of Operational Research on “Operations research in health care“. One can also note the Annals of Operations Research calls for papers on “OR in the public sector and NPO“ (Apr 30), OR Spectrum’s CFP on “Healthcare operations management“ (Jun 30), as well as CFPs for Decision Support Systems on “Modeling for better healthcare“ (Sep 15), Computers and Operations Research on “Operations research for health care delivery“ (Dec 2010). It is mostly OR and OM research that is called for in health care right now.


Supply chain design for carbon trading

Supply chain design for carbon trading

–Perhaps a speculative statement, but not for long.

As companies can buy emission credits on auctions and marketplaces (horisontal structure of carbon trading), why not include them in trading with suppliers and customers (vertical structure of carbon trading)?

More thoughts on this very soon.


Counting “sustainability” in conference proceedings

With the first cup of coffee this morning, a quick word count of the proceedings of this year’s LRN conference and Nofoma conference result in following:

Nofoma 2007 proceedings (1172 pages):
Sustainable: 49
Sustainability: 26

LRN 2007 proceedings (765 pages):
Sustainable: 188
Sustainability: 100

Both conferences represent logistics and supply chain management. The immediate difference lies in the Nordic dominance of the Nofoma, and the fact that a great number of participants at the LRN conference work in UK. There is some but not large overlap of participants between these two conferences.

Is the sense of urgency greater in UK than the Nordic countries? Who is talking the walk, and who is walking the talk?


Product recalls and customer orientation

About two years ago, I started collecting news about product recalls to use in a lecture on reverse logistics. Students do often know the stories and find it interesting to explore further the potential causes and consequences by using the vocabulary from the reverse logistics literature. I am surprised how fast the pile is growing.

Unfortunately, some of these product recalls become of personal interest for many of us (e.g. as parents). Take for example the two recalls Mattel (toy manufacturer) has had in only two weeks. One of the most recent one being Sarge (a car) from the Cars movie is now among the toys being recalled, according to this piece in today’s CNN. NYT has a similar story to tell
(and more stories from NYT here).

Frequency of product recalls aside, these recalls raise ethical and social concerns: It seems as if companies do not have much idea of what takes place in the up-stream operations of their supply chains.

This has caught the attention of other bloggers; one is Geek Dad, and this blogger here — Rick Klau — has established to collect stories on product recalls that may be of interest for “…parents and concerned individuals to track the latest news regarding unsafe toys”. An interesting attempt to create more transparency about product recalls.


ps. Where on earth did I read something about customer orientation? ;)

Pay As You Throw – A Chip In Your Bin?

A common way of charging residents for household waste is through a local tax on annual basis. The taxation is commonly based on the size of the actual property (ft. or m2) rather than the number of residents. In some cases, household pay for number of collections pr. month. By this aggregated approach it still remains unclear to what extent the revenue raised by this taxation covers the cost of collecting household waste to disposal.

Pay By Meter: Electricity, Gas, Water
Other serivces bougth by household include water, gas and electricity, all of which have been associated with the idea of sustainable development. The delivery and consumption of these services are measured, and household are expected to pay accordingly. Only companies that have been authorised are allowed to set up meters and inspect them on regular basis.

This is not the case for household waste. At least not yet.

Pay as you throw?
A lack of space for landfill, low rates of recycling and greenhouse gas emissions are few but many issues that inform the current discussion on household waste.

Fitting bins with microchips may be the solution, requiring household to pay as they throw. This is expected to “boost recycling” (see e.g. here on BBC, but this has been discussed for a while, see here and here at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), but has also fueled a debate on privacy concerns.

The question is whether recycling is a sufficient solution.

Finding a path to innovative solutions
Depending on what power consumers have, this may translate into demands for further efficiency in transport, packaging and storing at the up-stream levels of the supply chain. This was issued more than ten years ago by Prof. Marianne Jahre, at BI in Oslo, Norway, in a paper on Household waste collection as a reverse channel published in IJPDLM (1995, Vol. 25, No. 2), who proposed that the process of collection of waste for recycling may learn from concepts and approaches commonly used in forward logistics flow, for example postponement.

It will be interesting to see whether this constrain will result in any innovative solutions, and also what level of the supply chain will react upon this.


ps. A search for “pay as you throw” on Google resulted in 147.000 hits today.

The number one

Everyone, and every nation, wants to be the number one. No matter in what. Even being the “worst polluter” counts.  Now that carbon management has been discussed at the UN’s Security Council and the IPCC had it’s climate change meeting in Bangkok, China was pushed to the centre of attention of being the worst polluter, or the “coming” worst polluter globally. The country’s curve of greenhouse gas emissions (and its costs) follows the general “China curve”, that is an exponential curve over a timeline. As Max von Zedtwitz from Tsinghua University noted today, the running gag in Beijing is that it is healthy to smoke, at least then you breathe through a filter. As to stop smog from blurring the picture in Beijing, CSR Asia‘s meeting today focused on public transportation issues – and one of the foci of the group’s next summit is on supply chain management related issues. Other research follows suit, looking at corporate social and environmental responsibility in Chinese supply chains. Maybe instead of a political stalemate, it is through supply chains that a “one planet environmental policy” can emerge – as even stated in the document of the informal meeting of EU environmental ministers in June 2006.