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The Role of Tracking and Traceability in Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Autor:   •  October 22, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,589 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,229 Views

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Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) is a growing field recognized by consumers and businesses alike. Some consumers and businesses do not understand that the sustainability concept is more than just environmental effects. SSCM is defined by Carter and Rogers (2008) as: “the strategic, transparent integration and achievement of an organization’s social, environmental, and economic goals in the systemic coordination of key inter-organizational business processes for improving the long-term economic performance of the individual company and its supply chains”. Businesses and consumers are an integral part of ensuring the sustainability of a supply chain. Two of the means to achieve this goal are tracking and traceability methods. Tracking can be defined as “the ability to follow the path of an item as it moves downstream through the supply chain from the beginning to the end” and tracing can be defined as “the ability to identify the origin of an item or group of items, through records, upstream in the supply chain” (Schwägele 2005). Together, tracking and tracing, help companies know where their products originated from and where they are in the supply chain even if they are in the hands of third party logistics (3PL). This paper will take a look at the need for tracking and traceability in SSCM, the tracking and traceability available technology, and the role of tracking and traceability in SSCM.

Keywords: tracking, traceability, supply chain management, sustainability

The Need for Tracking and Traceability in Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Companies and consumers have become environmentally and socially aware which has caused them to require that the products they sell and use, be from certifiable sustainable sources. Many people equate sustainability with ensuring the environment is protected from pollution and over-usage but utilizing the triple-tiered approach, sustainability also includes economic and social concerns. The need for tracking and tracing comes from the overreaching span of supply chains.

Large and small companies that manufacture products utilize suppliers from around the world. They are not only responsible for sustainability for at their retail or distribution locations but for every facet of their supply chain from start to finish. Juliette Caulkins mentioned in an article “issues like global warming, water footprint, impact on natural resources and food security have become important issues in today’s corporate reality” (Caulkins, 2011). For example, a food manufacturer faces a contamination issue that could cause sickness and possible death if they are not able to recall the suspect food product. Without tracking methods in place, the company may have to do a mass recall which would be financially costly and not technically


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