Note: Today’s post is part of our “Editor’s Pick” series where we highlight recent posts published by our sponsors that provide practical knowledge and advice on timely and important supply chain and logistics topics. This January 2022 post from E2open’s blog highlights how manufacturing quality plays into carbon production and presents three steps to reduce manufacturing emissions.
When it comes to sustainability in the supply chain, two things matter most: emit less carbon and use less water to make and deliver goods. The consensus of scientists is that these two factors, especially carbon, will help keep the earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Serious impacts—environmental, social and corporate—are predicted to come from greater warming than this. But understanding your actual carbon footprint is not as simple as looking inside the four walls of the enterprise itself, especially in a business environment where many key processes are outsourced. In fact, outsourcing can actually yield a net increase in carbon production when the outsourced region relies on dirtier forms of energy.
To truly understand their carbon impact, companies will have to examine how much carbon is emitted along their entire value chain, from sourcing to delivery, and then in the use and disposal of their products. It’s about the entire lifecycle, not just the internal operations. Emissions not tied directly to the operation of company facilities and vehicles are referred to as Scope 3 emissions, and understanding them can be a daunting task, especially when you don’t have much visibility beyond your four walls.
The Sustainability Challenge of Defects and Returns
With all the tumult in the sourcing and delivery aspect of supply chain over the last couple of years, one area that has gotten comparatively less attention is how manufacturing quality plays into carbon production and what happens to goods when they come back to the manufacturer. The challenge of handling returned products is more pronounced with e-commerce sales because consumers can’t directly experience the product before purchase, so they tend to overbuy and return items that didn’t work for them. Returned goods almost always represent a massive waste—financial and emissions-related.