A Sustainable Supply Chain in Action: DuPont Develops Biofuels

In my previous post I discussed why creating a sustainable supply chain is important and explored several aspects to consider when undertaking such an effort. This post will provide a case study in creating a sustainable supply chain based on our success within DuPont’s biofuels business.

Upon deciding to create biofuels, we looked at this new venture from multiple angles, including the triple bottom line and the triple top line. The triple bottom line is a term that most individuals are familiar with; it has become the standard for corporate sustainability reporting and includes people (communities, society in general, employees and consumers), planet (measurable impact on environmental performance) and profits (some indication that profit is possible from the investment of resources). The triple top line is an emerging idea that businesses that embrace sustainability as a growth driver see their reputation, revenue and investment portfolio as the top line focus areas that drive their strategy, financial performance and investment for future growth. DuPont’s vision to address food and fuel for a growing world provided the idea to create fuels, specifically cellulosic ethanol, from residual biomass.

A fundamental value of the cellulosic ethanol business is sustainable harvest, production and delivery of products and, to that end; a sustainable supply chain was built into the business design as a condition of making the business work.

At DuPont we leverage our knowledge and experience with developing Life Cycle Analyses for products into ways to improve sustainable performance along the supply chain.  This includes energy use, greenhouse gas performance, land and water use as well as safe operating and environmental regulation compliance performance.

DuPont started at the beginning of the supply chain, working with our farmers to ensure their land can be managed sustainably and working with communities, state universities and local organizations to understand their needs and concerns and to learn from their experience.  From there, every process is viewed through the lens of operating in a sustainable manner. We invest in R&D to learn how to harvest efficiently. We collaborate with partners to learn how to remove the biomass in a way that doesn’t harm and even aids the growing of the next crop. For the harvesting stage, we use lean practices for the most efficient and effective way to move across fields, sourcing the highest efficiency equipment and using the equipment at full capacity to avoid wasting energy.

We also looked at locations with access to rail routes to provide a more environmentally friendly and financially efficient mode of transportation. Finally, we looked at the waste material from the harvest and production processes as potential opportunities; including composting waste biomass material and soil into something of value that could be returned to the farms as well as using or selling other co-products to generate energy or be further processed.

Each of these individual acts is important; however, the sum is greater than the parts. We are creating a sustainable supply chain throughout the entire lifecycle of our cellulosic ethanol operations. By making sustainability an integral part of how the supply chain and business are being developed from the start, we drive both innovation and the adaption of existing methods to deliver sustainable outcomes.

This is just one example of DuPont’s commitment to sustainability. You can learn more about our Sustainable Operations practice and how we work with our clients by visiting our website. Do you have a sustainable supply chain case study to share?

Source / Fuente: sustainablebusinessforum.com

Author / Autor: Peter Murray

Date / Fecha: 23/01/12

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