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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

A Framework to Evaluate the Sustainability of a Company's Supply Chain, Developed from the Practices of the UK Retail Industry

Felipe Cox

A Framework to Evaluate the Sustainability of a Company's Supply Chain, Developed from the Practices of the UK Retail Industry

Companies can learn about the level of sustainable development that their supply chain has, with the purpose of knowing the capacity of response in the suppliers for any sustainable initiative that the company wants to perform. Discovering the capacities that the supply chain has provides valuable information for any environmental or social program that the company decides to implement in an efficient and successful way. The investigation involved a set of interviews and surveys to managers from UK retailers that work in sustainability programs, with the intention of understanding the drivers that encourage the retailers to invest in sustainability for their suppliers and the needs that the company has from them. A proposed framework created from the investigation results and literature about the topic can be used by any company in any industry, with questions that can guide the diagnosis of the supply chain. Once the companies have used the framework, they will be aware of the conditions, strengths and weakness of their supply chain and use that information to develop a sustainable program towards them. Companies expect low costs, high quality and on-time delivery from their supply chain, something that can be obtained without the need of developing sustainability in their suppliers. However, if the company expects long term profit, a source of innovation or to avoid any risk that could harm their operation, then they need to look into their supply chain and care about the way their providers are working and the impact that are generating in their environment. An example of high environmental and social impact is last-minute orders, in which suppliers can use additional shifts of personnel or any means of transportation (that usually generates more CO2) to satisfy the company request.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.