Towards Horizontal Environmental Assessment for Supply Chain and Logistics Management
Abstract: Electronic commerce (E-commerce) is one of the issues that are expected to influence the various logistics and supply chain processes/operations including: production, packaging, warehousing, transportation, etc. Consequently, the environmental implications of E-commerce are of concern and interest. In this regard, there are some pilot studies, but they are unable to deliver conclusions or generalisations, except suggestions for continuation works. There are even contradictory results and complaints that the data collection process is very difficult if not impossible in several instances. Investigating this issue, this dissertation finds that the toolbox of environmental systems assessment tools are designed for assessment of objects that are in a level of product, process, material or project, and not assessment of objects such as E-commerce, covering unlimited number of chains transferring products/commodities within various industries. In the meantime, the dissertation finds that the field of supply chain and logistics management does not provide an alternative platform for environmental assessment for this problem. In fact, the ?Logistics/Supply Chain & Environment? (Log-Env) is itself in need for a renewal. The dissertation, thereafter, proposes and discusses a new way of performing an environmental assessment, under the name: ?Horizontal Environmental Assessment? (HEA). The structure of this assessment includes ?assessment of strategies? as a main part of it. The strategies meant by here are a group of specific decisions known in the supply chain and logistics management field such as centralisation, postponement, differentiation, Just-In-Time, focused factories, etc. Several benefits can be reached with HEA, mainly contributing in building some understanding on the environmental implications of E-commerce, and contributing in developing the area of Log-Env in terms of terminology and filling the gap in the topics of environmental empirical analyses of logistics/supply chains impacts. Up to date, one can find only one line of discussion in Log-Env, and that is the impact of environment on logistics. For founding the bases of HEA, the dissertation describes the structure and type of data it requires. Yet, some of such data is not currently available, for example, environmental understanding on the preference between: centralisation or decentralisation from environmental point of view, and so forth for the rest of other strategies. Therefore, the dissertation took the step ahead to contribute in this type of understanding as a step contributing in fact in-directly to building HEA. A strategy, taken as a case for this purpose, is postponement, demarcated to the food industry. The dissertation, however, first studied the topic ?food postponement? by conducting semi-structured interviews with over 50 contacts within the European food industry due to the fact that ?food postponement? itself is a new topic with very limited treatment. Afterwards the dissertation held an experiment of environmental assessment of food postponement using ?expert panel? (Delphi). The outcomes indicate that there are good chances for developing this kind of assessments if taken on a large scale of collaboration in terms of time and members (academics and industry). The dissertation shows as well the validity and benefits of carrying out assessments of strategies from a systems approach viewpoint, and through presenting the examples of similar line of discussions or attempts that exist in the literature.
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