Unless your products walk to you, online shopping is an eco-disaster
The 'Supply Chain' model has truly made the world a smaller place. With low cost manufacturing units on the other side of the world that once made us feel like they were a world away, one can find himself / herself on that side of the world with just a click. The world has really shrunk…… But at what cost is this global shrinkage happening…..?
For ex: the product that you choose takes a great tour to arrive at your doorstep. Well, in fact, after traveling half the world most of the time. It all starts with a truck to shift it from the manufacturing unit to the central distribution platform; another truck to get it from that platform to a shipping location; a forklift or a crane to shift it from shipping location onto the main mode of transport; an airplane or cargo ship; some more trucks to get it to the dispatch centre; few bikes and goods carriers to distribute the goods to the consumers……
All this can happen very fast……. But this process burns up huge amount of fuel that eventually releases various green house gases, thereby polluting the air. And with the growing trend where products always need to be transported from their manufacturing locations to their consumers, the growing volume of global manufacturing and larger distances that they need to travel, has given rise to various environmental issues and concerns. Nearly 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions in India, today, comes from transportation. As supply chains drills deeper into consumer locations, the associated pollution band-wagon too follows.
Though the supply chain delivers the consumers with what they want, when they want and by spending as little money as possible, it still is one of the major reasons for the growing levels of air pollution. That means a company's supply chain environmental footprint can start half a world away in a manufacturing unit and continue right up to a consumer's residence. For ex: a pair of shoe that is ordered from an online store begins its life as a basic rubber / plastic compose, thousands of miles away. And the carbon footprint that is created has almost traveled across the other part of the globe. Not very long ago, the sight of a delivery truck dropping off goods on a specific day of the week could be counted on your finger tips. but it's become a common sight throughout the year today. And this rampant increase in transportation and related activities has become a major concern for ecologists, scientists & politicians. But the supply chain professionals are also trying to pay attention to this issue, not just
for environmental concerns but for cost reduction reasons as well.
Well, in some parts of the world and in some companies that's already happening and the results are convincing. In the United States the transport / shipping / shifting vehicles now have strict regulations on vehicle idling and operating criteria to reduce the level of greenhouse gases and the costs of refueling those vehicles. Another alternative is to encourage electric & bio-fuel fuel based vehicles. There is also news that the 'modified & action-specific Drones' will be used within and around warehouses and in the neighborhoods to deliver products to consumer's doorstep. Well, if you really think of it - global supply chain did indeed shrink the world. And now isn't it up to them to be the major part of the solution in reducing the resulting environmental impact…? Nobody seems to throw this question at them..! Isn't it their responsibility…?? Is it just about being the largest, richest and the most popular supply chain group..? And if they really intend to be that - then it's all the more their responsibi
lity to maintain the well-being of their clients / consumers / customers..! It's just not talking about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and pleasing the community in their immediate surroundings.
'Ecology' needs greater and constant attention than 'Economy'… For, if there is no Ecology, then there is no Economy at all. It's high time that the CSR initiatives are truly and genuinely implemented and their results are audited as well. In addition to making CSR mandatory there needs to be strict guidelines as to what these CSR funds are being utilized for, since different geographical regions have different ecological and environmental issues and concerns.