Organising environmental supply chain management: experience from a sector with frequent product shifts and complex product chains: the case of the Danish textile sector

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Date: Spring 2004
Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing
Document Type: Article
Length: 7,712 words

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This paper analyses the shaping of environmental supply chain management practice in the Danish textile sector. It is based on a qualitative study involving eight companies and their interaction with suppliers on environmental issues. The analyses show several aspects that influence environmental supply chain management practice: governmental regulation, public debate, customer demand, expectations for market opportunities, and international economic structures such as currency rates and trade quotas. From the case studies, three different environmental supply chain management practices have been identified: (1) the wake strategy, where companies follow in the 'wake' of other companies, which place the same requirements on their suppliers; (2) the asymmetrical partnership, where long-term relationships with a supplier are based on control; and (3) the symmetrical partnership, with long-term relationships and mutual partnership with a supplier. The tools and structures characterising each of the practices, and the opportunities and barriers for their continuing long-term and more widespread implementation as a part of long-term business strategies are discussed.

* Supply chain management

* Environmental management

* Sustainable development

* Product chain

* Partnership

* Business strategy

* Environmental competence

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THIS PAPER DISCUSSES THE MECHANISMS INVOLVED IN THE SHAPING OF environmental concerns as part of supply chain management in the Danish textile and garment sector ('the textile sector') in order to contribute to the theory building within this environmentally and scientifically important theme. Corporate practice is under pressure from both governmental regulation and consumers in the form of environmental demands on companies' production and products. One of the most recent corporate environmental strategies, formed as a response to these demands, is environmental management with a focus on environmental impact along the supply chain or the life-cycle of a product (De Bakker and Nijhof 2002). This type of environmental management is also sometimes referred to as life-cycle management. Kogg (2002) uses the term 'environmental supply chain management' for efforts initiated by companies to improve and/or control environmental performance upstream and/or downstream in their supply chains. When the term 'supply chain management' is used, the focus seems normally to be on demands directed upstream in the supply chain (which means towards the suppliers). However, we have experienced that relations in product chains are often mutual, which means that the suppliers directly or indirectly also influence the customers downstream. We will use the term 'environmental supply chain management' for environmental management upstream and downstream in the product chain and recommend reserving the term 'life-cycle management' for environmental management that addresses the whole life-cycle of a product or service.

De Bakker and Nijhof (2002) use the term 'responsible chain management' for a continuous alignment of different internal and external expectations in a company. This term signals that, today, not only are environmental demands the focus in product chains but sometimes also issues such as social conditions, occupational health and safety, and child labour. Some companies have started using the term 'sustainability management' and reporting guidelines have been developed. An example is the Global Reporting Initiative (www.globalreporting.org).

Kogg (2002) stresses that much of the research in the field of environmental...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A135842394