23 July 2007 | Helen Gilbert
Environmentally friendly logistics operations will become a reality only as a result of consumer pressure, according to supply chain experts.
Delegates at an event hosted by SCALA Consulting earlier this month, Will environmental issues force logisticians to think the unthinkable?, heard from a range of organisations including environmental group Friends of the Earth and electronics retailer Dixons.
The group found "greener" logistics would happen only if a culture of trust and collaboration between supply chain partners developed alongside a change in public attitudes.
John Perry, managing director of SCALA Logistics Consulting, said companies should ask themselves three questions: Would they put the environment before cost benefits? Would they collaborate with their competitors? And would they reduce customer demand for the benefits of the environment?
"There is a lot of talk at the moment about our responsibilities as businessmen and logisticians towards the environment. But is this just a case of senior management PR, or is it really serious this time?" he said.
Chris Robinson, International Supply Chain Manager at tea manufacturer Tetley, said it is not a case of thinking the unthinkable, but of thinking in terms of the environment, society and the economy and applying this approach to all decision making. "We should not be ashamed of saying we are looking to make a profit. But we must act in a responsible way," he said.