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Sustainable Supply and Procurement

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Supply and Procurement of Mark & Spencer's and Unilever

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Introduction

In the modern era, every company is required to take care of the environment and society under which it operates. It has been found that, businesses have negative impact on environment which needs to be lowered down. The noise and pollution which is created by companies is a big threat to the environment. In addition to this, the waste which is occurred at the time of production or manufacturing of products is also very harmful for the environment as well as for the people living in society. In the present scenario, competition among organizations has become so intense that it has become almost impossible for them to retain their customers. Therefore, many companies have adopted the strategy of lowering down the impact of their operations on the environment. Further, businesses have also started to accomplish their corporate social responsibility in order to create a positive brand image in mind of customers and protect the environment. Mark & Spencer's and Unilever are the two big retailer of the world which supplies different type of products in many countries around the globe. Other than this, both the organizations have always tried to reduce the impact of their operations and various other activities on surroundings. These companies seek for reducing water and electricity consumption during different processes. It has been observed that supply chain management plays a very important role in both organizations. This report covers various theories and framework which are related to logistics and supply chain management. In addition to this, it also highlights the contribution of green logistic supply chains in Mark & Spencer's and Unilever. The report explains how the above stated organizations have put efforts in making their operations and overall activities more sustainable.

Main body

(1) Theories and frameworks to analyse environmental issues related to logistics and supply chain management

Supply chain management can be termed as the flow of products and services from a producer to customers. Further, it includes flow of raw materials, inventory and at last the finished products. It can be stated that supply chain is one of the most important part of any businesses as it help in ensuring the fact that right products are delivered at right time to right customers (Hervani, Helms and Sarkis, 2005). It helps in enhancing the degree of customer satisfaction by providing them with required goods on time. On the other hand, logistics is defined as part of supply chain management which plan, implement and control the inwards and outward flow of products in an organization. Therefore, it can be stated that logistics and supply chain management are very important part of businesses. System and social network theory are some of the important theories of supply chain management which are generally used by business (Carter and Rogers, 2008). The role of social network theory is to take care of the different aspects and relationships of a firm. Further, it includes relation between suppliers firm, firm and retailers as well as retailers and customers. Social-technical and financial elements are taken into consideration while determining the impact of businesses on its supply chain management. On the other hand, system theory brings together various components such as financial, human, informational etc. and makes them a part of supply chain management (Ballou, 2007).

In the present scenario, businesses are responsible to lower down the impact of their operations on environment. The waste and pollution of businesses has become a great threat to global environment and companies which are required to take care of the same. Supply chain management is the process of flow of products and services thus, the waste created at the time of production directly have negative impact on surroundings as well as on people. In addition to this, it has been also observed that the products which are offered by some companies are also harmful for customers (Li and Rao, 2006). Nobody is unaware of the fact that resources are very limited in number and they should be utilized properly. The waste of resources during supply chain and logistic is directly encouraging scarcity of resources. Companies are required to ensure that all the natural resources should be utilized in the best possible manner so that they can be saved for future generations.

In olden days the main aim of businesses behind using supply chain management was to lower down their cost and deliver high level of products and services to people in the market. Nowadays, things have changed a lot and companies are also required to take care of the post purchaser behaviour of customers. It has been observed that, great harm to the environment has been created when an individual use or consumer products and then dispose the same (Van Weele, 2009). Thus, it has forced many organizations to adopt concept of green and environmentally friendly supply chain system. The pollution and waste which is created at the time of entire supply chain is one of the biggest threat to the environment in which businesses operates. It has been also observed that the toxic chemical and pollution which has been extracted by operations of company directly degrades the quality of soil. Therefore, businesses are required to change their procurement and production process so that, better and environmentally friendly products can be supplied to the people. In order to lower down the cost sometimes, companies start using very low quality of packing material and when consumer dispose of the same, harm is caused to the environment (Vachon and Klassen, 2008). Thus, instead of using low-quality material business can lower down their packing which will lower down both cost and waste. The natural resources are very limited and most of the companies are wasting resources to a great extent. This also majorly harms the environment and it is required to be stopped. During the entire process of the supply chain, organizations are required to identify areas and process which are harmful for the environment (Stadtler, 2005). Further, a corrective measure should be taken to improve or eliminate such kind of process. If this is not done then businesses will not be able to survive in the long run.

The consumer nowadays has become very clever and he evaluates various aspects before purchasing any kind of product or service. Thus, an organization which use environmental friendly raw material and takes care of impact of their operations on the environment creates a positive brand image. This directly assists in increasing sales and profitability in the long run (Seuring and Müller, 2008). Further, it will also help in achieving competitive advantage over other market players by creating high brand image in market.

(2) Contributions to the green logistic supply chain by the organizations

Mark & Spencer is one of the most renowned and successful retailer in the world. Further, the brand has always taken care of the fact that its operations and activities do not harm the environment. The organization has made a list of 100 commitments which aims to achieve till 2020. Further, it is working with its various suppliers, partner, workers and customers, in order to lower down the waste and pollution, occurred during the process of the supply chain (Christopher, Peck and Towill, 2006). Till now the brand has saved around 4 million items of unwanted clothes from going into landfills. Other than this, it has also lowered down the energy consumption level in many of its stores which has directly contributed in cost reduction. One of the biggest contributions which Marks & Spencer has made to the green logistic supply chain is that without compromising the quality and freshness in its food products, it has reduced packing of food by 16%. Thus, it has resulted in lowering down the environmental waste. The company has also implemented an effective process of reuse and recycle (About Plan A, 2015). In addition to this, it has also reduced the number of food bag which it provides to customers. This has contributed a lot in protection and taking care of the environment. The organization has always ensured the fact that all the available natural resources are used in the most effective and efficient manner.

Marks & Spencer has developed a sustainability plan in which it covers some of the major aspects such as human, social, environment and financial aspects (torey, Emberson and Reade, 2005). The brand always take care the financial resources which are managed and utilized at its best so that it can generate better profits. This also assists in providing better returns to stakeholders of the company and developing good relation with them (Porter and Kramer, 2011). On the other hand, its sustainability plan also aims at providing human resources of the organization with adequate opportunities for future growth and development. In addition to this, the plan also aims at delivering best quality of products to customers that do not harm environment (Storey, Emberson and Reade, 2005). Now 64% of the products of Marks & Spencer has a social or environment attribute in which clearly means that the company is really doing well (Khan, Christopher and Burnes, 2008). The waste which occurs at the time of supply chain management is used by the brand to generate energy with the help of anaerobic digestion. Some of the key feature of Marks & Spencer sustainability policy is to take care of the factors such as climate change, waste, health and well being of people along with protection and best use of natural resources (Stavrulaki and Davis, 2010).

Unilever is another big player in the retail industry of the world which supply and deliver various kinds of products in different countries all around the globe. The company has developed an effective strategy of sustainable development to lower down the impact of its perpetration on society, environment and economy (Hamprecht and et. al., 2005). Since 2010, the organization has reduced impact of waste by 12% and it has also developed some of the new factors which aim at creating zero percentage waste at the time of production. Further, it has also lowered down the use of packing material which is used at the time of packaging. Therefore, with the help of this, at the time of use and consumption of products of Unilever the waste of empty packets will be very less. During the time of landfill, the company has ensured the fact that almost zero percentage of hazardous waste goes into landfill (Bose and Pal, 2012). Other than this, it has also introduced the process of recycle, reuse and recover which reduces the harm caused to environment. The company has also reduced the amount of paper consumption so that the waste can be reduced.

Unilever has also adopted the strategy of sustainable agriculture sourcing in which it grows food in a way which improves the quality of soil. In addition to this, it also helps in minimizing the use of water and fertilizer which is very beneficial for the environment (Croom, 2005). The company has taken sustainability sourcing to the highest level of quality and it has also raised awareness among consumer regarding the same. It is well aware of the fact that the growing water scarcity is a big threat to the world. Thus, it helps its customers to use water more effectively and save for future generations. Further, with the help of new technology, the company try to lower down consumption of water. (Zhu, Dou and Sarkis, 2010). Therefore, it can be stated that the organization has contributed a lot in green logistics to supply chain. The main aim behind green logistics is to lower down the harm which is caused to environment by various operations of the company. Thus, the company has a lot in the same aspect and has developed in a very sustainable manner. The key feature of Unilever's sustainability strategy is to take care of the health of customers all around the world, reduce environmental impact and enhance livelihood of the people (The Unilever sustainability plan, 2015).

(3) The potential contribution of improvements in procurement functions to make the organizations more sustainable

Procurement can be defined as the action to obtain or have something. Businesses procure various things such as raw material, human and financial resources in order to manufacture various products. It has been observed that both Unilever and Marks & Spencer have started to use sustainability development as an integrated part of their overall business strategy (Preuss, 2009). It can be stated that there are some of the improvements which are required in procurement process to make the organizations more sustainable. First of all both the retail giants are required to procure environmental friendly raw material. One of the main advantages of obtaining such kind of raw material is that it will create less wastage and will also assist both the companies to reduce the impact of their operations on environment. The globalization has resulted in increasing the number of suppliers in the market place (Porter, 2008). Now both the businesses can easily obtain environmental friendly raw material in order to make better products.

It is also needed by Unilever and Marks & Spencer to plan the procurement process according to the need and requirement. This will help in obtaining resources as per the need and will aid in lowering down the wastage. It will assist companies to increase the effectiveness of their overall strategies and become more sustainable (Walker and Brammer, 2009). The organizations are also required to ensure the fact that a proper monitoring and control process has been developed in the management. The aim of such kind of process will be to identify and control areas which are creating more waste and pollution at the time of procurement process. Further, both the companies can also minimise the use of non-renewable and virgin resources. It can be also stated that, the above mentioned organizations should encourage the use of renewable resources. This will directly result in protecting natural resources for future generations (Porter and Kramer, 2011). Such kind of improvement in procurement process will also assist the brands to reduce the impact on environment.

It has been witnessed that most of the businesses ignores running cost at the time of their procurement process (Ballou, 2007). Thus, Unilever and Marks & Spencer are required to use those equipments c which are efficient in saving energy and cost. All the activities which are created unnecessarily wasted at the time of the procurement process should be eliminated with immediate effect. Other than this, the awareness among people regarding environmental protection is increasing day by day and many companies have now adopted the strategy of sustainability development. Such kind of strategies not only help businesses to grow and develop in an effective manner but also assist in creating brand image and goodwill in the mind of customers (Christopher, Peck and Towill, 2006). Unilever and Marks & Spencer are also required to increase process of reuse and recycle products which are supplied to customers.

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It can be done with the help of manufacturing goods which have long life and it can be repaired, reused and then recycled in the end. It can be also stated that instead of having attractive packaging the companies can minimize their packing so that the waste can be minimized and less harm is done to the environment. Further, the packing material should be of such a nature that it can be disposed after using the product. Unilever and Marks & Spencer needs to ensure the fact that no or almost zero toxic chemicals are released at the time of procurement process. The toxic chemicals are termed as one of the biggest threat to land as well as to air (Storey Emberson and Reade, 2005). It harms the atmosphere and excess of chemical sometimes makes it very difficult for human beings to breath. Thus, in order to develop more sustainably the companies are required to lower down the volume of toxic waste which is created at the time of various activities and operations.

Sustainability not only means protecting the environment but it also ensures the fact the organization is taking care of people and society. Unilever and Marks & Spencer both the companies aim at taking care of well being and health of customers. At the time of procurement process, the organizations is required to take care that the raw material which is used during the production process is safe and is of highest quality (Preuss, 2009). Further, it should not have any kind of negative impact on the life and health of people who are using or consuming the product. The customers of any sustainable company trust that products which they are using are of highest quality and will improve their life. Other than this it is also required by both companies to procure raw material from local sources so that economic benefits can be provided to local communities. Therefore, all the above stated improvements in procurement process will help Unilever and Marks & Spencer to become more sustainable.

Conclusion

From the above report, it can be concluded that sustainability supply and procurement has become very important for businesses. This helps in creating a high brand image and also assists companies to survive in the long run. Form the above study; it can be asserted that it is the responsibility of every business to take care of the society and environment under which it operates. Companies are also required to ensure that the products do not create any kind of negative impact on the life of the people who are using them. Unilever and Marks & Spencer is a big retailer of the world and along with increasing sales and profitability, both the companies have always taken care of their corporate social responsibility. It can be concluded that the organizations have developed a sustainable strategy which includes various short and long term goals. Further, there are some of the improvements which are required in the procurement process of both the organizations in order to make them more sustainable. It can be stated that using local products, lowering down the packing, minimizing the use of non-renewable sources can improve the process of reuse and recycle. This will help companies to operate in a very cost-effective and sustainable manner in the future.

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