Supply chains could face new legislation on sustainability

Posted on May 03, 2019
Supply chains could face new legislation on sustainability

According to studies, Canada lags behind other countries in the area of sustainability in purchasing and supply chains, and there is concern that public pressure will increase on government to bring forward legislation to address the issue.

At a recent meeting of the advisory council of the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (COERB) in the Schulich School of Business, the subject of sustainability and how it impacts businesses at an operational level was raised by some of the council’s industry leaders.

Mark Thomas, program director of Schulich ExecEd’s Centre of Excellence in Supply Chain and Logistics Management, said that while some parts of the country may be lagging in this area, teaching about sustainability and ethics runs throughout the modules of the Centre’s signature program, the Masters Certificate in Supply Chain and Logistics Management and more is on the way.

In an interview, Thomas spoke about four trends that are informing the ongoing updates to this industry-leading program’s content.

Sustainability – In a recent module of the program, Thomas described a discussion he included on “green initiatives that make business sense” that drew on what companies are actually doing now to promote sustainability and profitability. Facilitator David Johnston will discuss ethical sourcing issues in his upcoming module of the program. Thomas said all program instructors are being asked to develop even more content on this important development.

Omni-Channel Retailing – Traditional retailers are responding to the challenge of large international online competitors, by introducing new methods of delivery, including services such as online ordering with in-store pickup. It offers a level of convenience to customers who can receive their purchase as quickly as the same day but presents logistics challenges for both large and especially small retailers. The impact of Omni-Channel retailing on supply chain and distribution operations is growing as more companies look for ways to match online retailers for customer convenience and satisfaction. The program’s already strong content in this area will be augmented in future sessions.

Metrics – Organizations whose business depends on strong supply chain and logistics management capabilities must continuously look for ways to improve in a market disrupted by technology and changes such as public pressure on governments to include sustainability measures in new laws. Thomas explained how the program looks at four takes on competitive analysis to drive the innovation and operational improvement needed to promote sustainability:

  1. How the company is doing compared to its past performance
  2. A company’s operations compared to a sister division
  3. Comparison with a similar company in the same industry
  4. Looking at non-related industries for ideas that might work for yours

Lean Supply Chain – Applying Lean principals to a company’s operations to achieve efficiency and increased customer satisfaction is a longtime practice in manufacturing, but it is now also increasingly seen as an effective solution for service industries. As more businesses respond to customer preference for sustainable goods and services, Lean principles will allow companies to invest in improvements without sacrificing profitability.


The Masters Certificate in Supply Chain and Logistics Management (staring Feb. 7, 2020) is comprehensive, integrated and uniquely endorsed by the Supply Chain Management Association of Ontario (SCMAO) and members save 10% on the program fee. For more information and to register, visit the program web pages.