Improving environmental sustainability in agri-food supply chains : evidence from an eco-intensity-based method application

Tuni, Andrea and Rentizelas, Athanasios (2022) Improving environmental sustainability in agri-food supply chains : evidence from an eco-intensity-based method application. Cleaner Logistics and Supply Chain, 5. 100081. ISSN 2772-3909 (

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Focal companies in food supply chains face increasing pressure to produce food sustainably and lower the environmental impact across their supply chain (SC). Although governance mechanisms to manage suppliers and sub-suppliers have been established, focal companies in the food sector still lack effective tools to capture the actual environmental sustainability performance of their multi-tier SCs, which could support them to decrease the environmental impact associated to their products. This work thus aims to showcase how assessing the environmental sustainability performance of a multi-tier food SC made up by SMEs can support decisions in order to drive evidence-based green improvements in the SC operations. A low-input eco-intensity-based multicriteria performance assessment method was applied to a bread SC, adopting a longitudinal case study design, to evaluate its applicability for decision-making in an operating context. Following the identification of environmental hotspots along the SC, targeted green operational improvements were implemented within individual organisations, resulting in a decrease of the eco-intensity values both at the targeted SC tiers and at the overall SC level. These results demonstrated that the method was able to support the improvement of the SC environmental performance. This work is the first longitudinal study in the multi-tier green supply chain management (GSCM) area. It contributes to the multi-tier food GSCM and GSCM performance assessment fields by demonstrating how the integration of environmental sustainability performance assessment methods and SC governance mechanisms can effectively support across time the deployment of GSCM within food SCs, while adopting an indirect SC management approach. Finally, the application of the method within a supply chain consisting of SMEs, inexperienced in sustainability assessment, demonstrates its potential to achieve SC-wide sustainability assessment and contributes to the wider GSCM field by providing insights on the implementation of GSCM in supply chains dominated by SMEs.