Sustainable supply chains: key performance indicators, collaboration and waste management

Hamid Allaoui (Université Lille Nord de France, Lille, France AND Université d'Artois, Béthune, France)
Alok Choudhary (Management Science and Operations Management Group, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 19 October 2015



Allaoui, H. and Choudhary, A. (2015), "Sustainable supply chains: key performance indicators, collaboration and waste management", Management Research Review, Vol. 38 No. 10.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Sustainable supply chains: key performance indicators, collaboration and waste management

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Management Research Review, Volume 38, Issue 10

Growing environmental, social and ethical concerns such as water scarcity, population growth, climate change, energy, pollution, health and safety, human rights and poverty have led to increased pressure by environmental advocacy groups, policy makers and several consumer groups on companies to deal with sustainability issues. Sustainability issues have both direct and indirect impact on the way of designing and managing supply chains. As a result, firms are increasingly focusing on their social and environmental performance, in addition to their financial performance in their supply chain.

Most of the current research in the area of sustainable supply chains has focused on the improvement of individual firm or process rather than design of entire supply chain. Studies in this area have adopted both analytical and empirical approaches to understand the impact of sustainability on a firm’s supply chain. Although considerable research effort has been put into this direction, there are still issues concerning the influence of sustainability-related activities and decisions on designing and managing supply chains to be addressed to offer managers prescriptive models of how to design and manage sustainable supply chains. To achieve this goal, synergies must be created between economic growth, environmental protection and social conditions, with a multidisciplinary scientific and technical approach.

Logistics and transportation operations in supply chains can be designed and planned in a significantly more sustainable way with increased collaboration between firms acting along a supply chain. With a better understanding of collaboration and sustainability practices, the supply chains will be able to measure and optimize the balance of economic, social and environmental benefits.

This special issue is devoted to the International Conference of Green Supply Chain (GSC, 2014), which was held at Arras, France, on 25th–27th June 2014. Authors of this conference were encouraged to submit the extended version of their manuscript. This special issue received very strong support from researchers from across the globe. We received a large number of research papers from researchers and practitioners on given topics and beyond. These submitted papers were carefully reviewed by at least two reviewers, and based on their recommendations, four papers were finally accepted for publication in this special issue.

This special issue of Management Research Review is devoted to sustainable supply chains with special focus on key performance indicators, urban logistics, collaboration and waste management. Presented research papers focus on optimization of design and planning, reverse logistics, collaboration and waste management for a sustainable supply chain. Topics considered in this special issue are interesting both for academics and practitioners. The special issue is aiming to deliver a number of tools, frameworks and methods that companies can use to improve the efficiency and sustainability of supply chain. These tools frameworks and methods are piloted across a range of companies to demonstrate how the new approaches can deliver real business benefits.

These accepted papers are related to four specific topics of research:

1. collaborative distribution for developing green supply chain;

2. key performance indicators for sustainability of urban logistics;

3. urban waste management; and

4. green supply chain for end-of-life (EOL) aircrafts.

We further discuss these papers as follows.

The integration of green supply chain management (GSCM) as the embodiment of environmental thinking in the supply chain is becoming increasingly important. In an effort to improve sustainability performance in food networks, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across the supply chain as well as to reduce empty running and increasing vehicular fill rate, Danloup et al. (2015) present a collaborative transportation planning model, which showcases collaborative distribution execution through a mixed-integer linear programming model. A simulated case study, which utilizes interviews and orders data across a UK-based fruit and vegetables distributer that manages packaging and warehousing of the products to be delivered to 27 retailer sites of the three biggest UK food retailers, is presented. Authors claim to reduce the total CO2 emissions by at least 26 per cent using this approach. The major contribution of this paper is to demonstrate the role of collaborative distribution for developing green supply chain solutions using an application case of logistics and product delivery.

As urban logistics increases in importance, Morana and Gonzalez-Feliu (2015) have endeavoured to establish a sustainable dashboard to facilitate the evaluation of sustainable performance for urban delivery systems. They present a literature review from which key performance indicators (KPIs) considering economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainable supply chain management were determined. These KPIs are collated as a reference grid, followed by a socio-constructive collaborative decision-making support methodology utilizing three measurement types: economic, environmental and social, ending with a consensus research among 25 managers as experts. They present a dashboard, which is derived from a collaborative decision-aid approach and applied to a panel of operational logistics managers.

Waste management is a prevailing environmental issue that fails to receive sufficient research attention. Elsaid and Aghezzaf (2015) present research into waste management systems while focusing on municipal solid waste management in large and developing cities, with a specific application to Cairo–Egypt, followed by the proposal presentation of an integrated framework for developing a sustainable system. Despite the fact that there is no optimal method for managing municipal wastes in urban areas, Elsaid and Aghezzaf (2015) propose to resolve the problem via a periodic vehicle routing problem, as optimization is required on the whole-week period schedule as opposed to daily route optimization. They also suggest implementation of the model via waste type separation as well as providing suggestions for waste management based on the managing structure, which includes governments as stakeholders, availability of data relating to transportation and maintenance costs as well as the willingness to pay for services in light of educated consumers.

It has become a pertinent problem to deal with aircrafts at the EOL in light of environmental, social and economic impacts. There is a growing need to incorporate GSCM principles in the value chain for aircrafts, as the products have longer life cycles and include various different regulations. Striving to present the literature and components of GSCM implementation in the aircraft industry – which differs from automotive and other industrial sections – Keivanpour et al. (2015) present the supply chain elements, the recovery strategies utilizing the 3Rs (Re-using, Recycling and Reducing) as well as the opportunities and challenges, proposing a closed-loop supply chain that operates in light of the strict Civil Aviation Authority regulations and policies governing inter-organizational relationships (such as transactional suppliers/customers and fully integrated strategic partners). This study points existing gaps of studies on the green supply chain in the aerospace industry.

Concluding remark

Sustainability and environmental impact are the key drivers for enhancing the design and management of global supply chains. This special issue brings solutions for some of the major challenges for sustainability of supply chains in various industries, including transportation, urban logistics, agri-food and aerospace, through original research contributions. Several methods such as extensive literature review, development of decision-aid tool, key performance indicators, framework, mathematical models and methods are discussed in various papers. A number of analysis-oriented studies have been illustrated with a holistic perspective to lead substantial gains in business solutions and best practices for companies. Sustainable supply chain tools and decision support models are discussed using case studies and illustrative examples. Several insights are reported to lead future collaborative research in the area of sustainable supply chain. Several open research questions are considered for future research as follows:

RQ1. What analytical methods, computational tools and data are needed to support the design, planning, coordination and collaboration of sustainable supply chains and logistics?

RQ2. How to develop and implement efficient big data analytics methods to analyse and interpret big data to help decision-makers for improving supply chains considering all three dimensions of sustainability in supply chain?

RQ3. What interventions and decision-making tools are needed to improve sustainability performance of companies?

RQ4. How to simultaneously optimize and establish a trade-off among the various performance measures of sustainable supply chains considering economics, environment and social dimensions?

RQ5. How would various types of environmental policies affect the design and operation of sustainable supply chain? What kind of environmental policies would induce more/less cooperation among partner firms?

It is emphasized that there is a need to bring multi-sector and multi-disciplinary approaches to make a contribution to sustainable supply chain research in both providing insights and innovative solutions.

Hamid Allaoui

Université Lille Nord de France, Lille, France and

Université d’Artois, Béthune, France

The guest editors would like to thank the journal’s editor-in-chief Professor Joseph Sarkis and editorial support officer Ellen Rutter for the support and contributions in realizing this special issue. In addition, they would like to thank all the authors for their significant and quality research contributions. With immense gratefulness, they recognize the reviewers, who have done a great job from assessing the submissions to providing their constructive inputs for improvement. They deserve sincere thanks and respect for their contribution.

Alok Choudhary

Management Science and Operations Management Group, School of Business and

Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK

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