LCA Sustainable Supply Chain USA This Week in Chicago

Sustainable supply chains seem to be front-of-mind recently as giants like Wal-Mart and IBM seek to reduce risk by understanding the impacts of their suppliers. Other companies are making headlines by addressing the downstream supply chain, with clever ways of reducing packaging, and not only setting, but also achieving zero waste goals. And for some companies, such as Hewlett Packard, working toward a greener supply chain is old hat.

Smart companies are addressing the supply chain issue for good reasons. A February 2010 study by McKinsey showed that companies with strong sustainability programs are companies that innovate and find value creation opportunities. A High Performance Supply Chain study by Accenture found that leaders who actively address sustainability in product design, manage their supply chain carbon footprint, and adopt an integrated view of sustainability across the supply chain, are also best-performers on cost and service.

This week in Chicago, sustainable supply chain pioneers, like the high performing innovators mentioned above, will convene for the two-day LCA Sustainable Supply Chain USA in Chicago.  Executives and sustainability professionals from companies such as HP, GE, Verizon, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson will share strategies for measuring and managing their supply chain impacts. Topics on the first day of the event will center around measuring social and environmental impacts, and how this data can be used to focus sustainability efforts. Day two will address specific areas of the supply chain, and include breakout sessions for food and consumer product supply chains.

I will be writing and tweeting from the event, and invite your comments, questions, concerns, and hopes on the happenings in Chicago, and also on sustainable supply chains in general. Personally, I’m eager to hear about programs that address the end-to-end supply chain as a system rather than a single piece, and those designed around a comprehensive set of indicators that incorporate a triple bottom line. Perhaps even more, I will be looking for speakers to address not only what has worked, but to share meaningful and honest feedback about where they’ve hit road blocks, and how both consumer behavior and legislation can help solve these challenges.

Sheila Samuelson is a Sustainable Business Strategist at Bright Green Strategy. She has earned an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School, and has sustainability experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Samuelson has helped Greensburg, Kansas work toward a sustainable recovery from the devastating 2007 tornado; worked with the San Francisco Department of the Environment; co-founded a designed a green business certification program for the area surrounding Dubuque, IA; and helped some of the largest global corporations measure and track their sustainability metrics.

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