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Keywords:

  • greener supply chain;
  • purchasing;
  • environmental protection;
  • middle management;
  • manufacturing

Abstract

The increasingly important economic role of supply chain management provides the backcloth against which this article examines what contribution the function can make to environmental protection. Theoretical perspectives on greener supply are developed and then tested against a sample of manufacturing companies. Environmental policy documents published by the sample companies seem to offer surface evidence for a proactive supply chain management role in environmental protection. Yet a more detailed examination of the three elements that constitute supply chain management – the management of the transformation of materials, the management of information flows and the management of supply chain relationships – finds a suboptimal situation for all three areas. In part this gap can be explained by limits in the technical capabilities of the supply chain. More important, however, are structural constraints that prevent the supply chain manager from actively searching for environmentally friendlier alternatives. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.