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Green operations initiatives in the automotive industry: An environmental reports analysis and benchmarking study

Breno Nunes (Operations and Information Management Department, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
David Bennett (Operations and Information Management Department, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 1 June 2010

12961

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on investigating and benchmarking green operations initiatives in the automotive industry documented in the environmental reports of selected companies. The investigation roadmaps the main environmental initiatives taken by the world's three major car manufacturers and benchmarks them against each other. The categorisation of green operations initiatives that is provided in the paper can also help companies in other sectors to evaluate their green practices.

Design/methodology/approach

The first part of the paper is based on existing literature on the topic of green and sustainable operations and the “unsustainable” context of automotive production. The second part relates to the roadmap and benchmarking of green operations initiatives based on an analysis of secondary data from the automotive industry.

Findings

The findings show that the world's three major car manufacturers are pursuing various environmental initiatives involving the following green operations practices: green buildings, eco‐design, green supply chains, green manufacturing, reverse logistics and innovation.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this paper start from its selection of the companies, which was made using production volume and country of origin as the principal criteria. There is ample evidence that other, smaller, companies are pursuing more sophisticated and original environmental initiatives. Also, there might be a gap between what companies say they do in their environmental reports and what they actually do.

Practical implications

This paper helps practitioners in the automotive industry to benchmark themselves against the major volume manufacturers in three different continents. Practitioners from other industries will also find it valuable to discover how the automotive industry is pursuing environmental initiatives beyond manufacturing, apart from the green operations practices covering broadly all the activities of operations function.

Originality/value

The originality of the paper is in its up‐to‐date analysis of environmental reports of automotive companies. The paper offers value for researchers and practitioners due to its contribution to the green operations literature. For instance, the inclusion of green buildings as part of green operations practices has so far been neglected by most researchers and authors in the field of green and sustainable operations.

Keywords

Citation

Nunes, B. and Bennett, D. (2010), "Green operations initiatives in the automotive industry: An environmental reports analysis and benchmarking study", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 396-420. https://doi.org/10.1108/14635771011049362

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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