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Sri Lankan firms told how ‘green’ supply chains cut costs, waste

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan companies can reduce manufacturing costs and improve efficiency by switching to ‘green’ procurement and supply chain methods now adopted by top global firms, a supply chain expert said.

“The linear economy is not a sustainable way of managing the economy,” said Gayani de Alwis, vice president of the Institute of Supply and Materials Managemen. “The present way – where you ‘take stuff, make stuff, throw stuff – you cannot continue.

”You need to take stuff you throw away back to the network. It has to be a closed loop – if we want to minimise the impact we have on the planet.”

‘Green thinking’ will bring about a total mind set change to conserve resources from point of origin to point of consumption and beyond, she told a forum at the Organisation of Professional Associations on ‘greening supply chains’.

“In the green supply chain you start from design stage and look at the complete life cycle,” de Alwis said. “You look at design so as to produce no or minimal waste.”

Companies are now aiming for zero by-products in their manufacturing processes and where they do have by-products, trying to ensure it is used in their own operation in some way.

Taking a fresh look at inputs and ensuring the final output is environmentally friendly with very little waste – or ‘circular thinking’ – will improve processes.

“If you don’t waste material your processes will be more efficient,” de Alwis said.

Big companies were now putting pressure on suppliers who have to comply with the new rules if they are to continue supplying, she said.

De Alwis said that in normal aim of procurement companies try to get inputs at the cheapest price.





“But that’s wrong thinking. As procurement people we must look at the total cost of ownership – look at quality, cost and delivery and bring environmental thinking into it. Then it becomes green procurement.”

‘Green thinking’ can modify conventional supply chain in key ways, with producers at each stage being mindful of output keeping the environment in mind from the design stage itself to minimise waste and emissions.

“From source to consumer you ensure your processes are fully aligned and environmentally friendly to minimise waste discharged.”

And the final output is also handled in a better way, without just dumping it, by recycling and refurbishing.

“Most cars that get dumped in Japan come here as reconditioned cars,” de Alwis said. “We Sri Lankans have a little bit of reuse mentality as we try to repair and reuse.

“But in recycling, we don’t have a proper operation like in the West, even if you segregate waste.”

 (Colombo/July 24 2015)

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