Creating sustainable supply chains

Reducing the harmful impacts of global logistics.

We are striving to improve global logistics – helping organisations to develop environmentally sustainable, cost-effective and resilient supply chains.

SUSTAIN – our data-driven and user-friendly toolkit – supports difficult and complex supply chain management decision making. It is already improving the way supply chain managers worldwide are measuring, assessing and developing their operational practices and performance.

The challenge

As consumers, we are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impacts of our purchases, and pressure on manufacturers and logistics companies is growing.

As well as cost-effective and just-in-time delivery, organisations must now address the ecological and human costs of both their products and their distribution.

With so many links in the supply chain, establishing these costs can be challenging. Nonetheless, supply chain waste must be reduced, and greater end-to-end transparency achieved.

Our solution

Supported by international funding, we have worked with academic partners and industrial stakeholders worldwide to develop SUSTAIN.

The toolkit allows manufacturing and logistics companies to assess their sustainability performance based on multi-dimensional KPIs, identify areas for improvement, benchmark their performance in the sector, and use the lowest cost interventions and best practices to improve.

Pilot trials with several companies in India and the UK – including Safexpress group, Fluiconnecto, JSA Logistics and members of East Midlands Chamber of Commerce – demonstrated SUSTAIN’s effectiveness in delivering financial savings, increasing resource efficiency, reducing environmental impacts and improving competitiveness.

Our research collaboration with Loughborough University has helped to drive process changes – reducing costs, minimising our environmental footprint and improving our responsiveness to customers – all of which will underpin our future competitive differentiation.

Global Operations Director – Fluiconnecto

Highlights of our green logistics research

SUSTAIN evolved from many years’ research and a range of initiatives – led by Dr Alok Choudhary (School of Business and Economics).

NEX-GIFT (Next Generation Sustainable Freight Transportation, 2014-16) – an international project involving collaborators from India, the UK and USA and as well as Australia, China, France and the Netherlands – deepened our understanding of the sustainability challenges faced by the sector, and began to transform current logistics practices.

Co-founded by Dr Choudhary – with the Carbon Trust in 2016 – the UK Forum for Supply Chain Sustainability facilitates the sharing of knowledge and best practice, mutual learning and networking across industry and academia. To date, more than 150 UK organisations have engaged with the Forum.

Funded by the EU and British Council, REINVEST brings together partners from Greece, India, Italy and the UK. The multidisciplinary research team is exploring ways to improve environmental sustainability and operational efficiency, and is working to influence regional policy in the logistics sector.

REINVEST is also looking at the resilience of the food security system to identify, model and manage current obstacles. The research is providing a better understanding of the severity of existing barriers and their associated risks.

This research has highlighted that a No-deal Brexit may cause food supply chain disruption – leading to increased food prices, reduced safety and welfare standards, food shortages and a potential public health crisis in the UK.

Funded by EPSRC-DTP, our current research in collaboration with the Carbon Trust is examining how businesses engage with water resource accounting tools – and why some do not. This will underpin the development of a water resource efficiency methodology for assessing water foot-printing and mitigating water risk in the supply chain.

Another strand of work is addressing the strategic national need to become more resourceful regarding material use, reuse of products, and reducing the volumes of plastic waste through innovative circular economy business models that capture, create and deliver equitable value for all stakeholders.

To find out more about our research in this area or to access our free-to-use, toolkit SUSTAIN, please get in touch.

Meet the Game Changers

alok choudhary

Dr Alok Choudhary

Reader in Supply Chain Management