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The challenge of greening global product chains: meeting both ends


  • Walter J. V. Vermeulen

    (Utrecht University, Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation, Department of Environmental Studies and Policies, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

  • P. J. Ras

    (Tshwane University of Technology, Center for Entrepreneurship, Private Bag X 680, Pretoria, South Africa 0001)


Greening of product chains has come up as an important means to systematically improve the environmental performance of products from cradle to cradle in Europe and elsewhere. Some experience with inter-firm co-operation aiming at reducing the environmental impacts has been generated in recent years. Most of these experiences involve cooperation between some of the links in product chains, very often stopping at European borders. Problems of market communication, information availability and information costs prevent companies from going beyond these lines. Also, anonymous markets may prevent communication between producers and end-users in the West and supplying firms in developing countries. Only very few documented case studies of global greening of product chains are available. Therefore, the challenge here is how to establish interactions with the first links in supply chains. Within the context of South Africa it is of cardinal importance to identify these links to ensure sustainable synergy. European countries are constantly changing the standards of products in order to meet environmental targets. Moreover, European consumer markets are increasingly sensitive to environmentally sound products. From the perspective of South African suppliers there is an increasing need for interaction in their global product chains. In this conceptual analysis we will present the way that should be followed from both ends of the global product chains. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Walter J. V. Vermeulen & P. J. Ras, 2006. "The challenge of greening global product chains: meeting both ends," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 245-256.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:14:y:2006:i:4:p:245-256
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.270

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sharfman, Mark & Ellington, Rex T. & Meo, Mark, 1997. "The next step in becoming "green": Life-cycle oriented environmental management," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 13-22.
    2. Daly, Herman E., 1990. "Toward some operational principles of sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-6, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Magnus Boström, 2015. "Between Monitoring and Trust: Commitment to Extended Upstream Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 239-255, September.
    2. Tong, Xin & Shi, Jin & Zhou, Yu, 2012. "Greening of supply chain in developing countries: Diffusion of lead (Pb)-free soldering in ICT manufacturers in China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 174-182.
    3. Caniato, Federico & Caridi, Maria & Crippa, Luca & Moretto, Antonella, 2012. "Environmental sustainability in fashion supply chains: An exploratory case based research," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(2), pages 659-670.
    4. Li, N. & Toppinen, A., 2011. "Corporate responsibility and sustainable competitive advantage in forest-based industry: Complementary or conflicting goals?," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 113-123.
    5. Friederike Albersmeier & Holger Schulze & Achim Spiller, 2009. "Evaluation and reliability of the organic certification system: perceptions by farmers in Latin America," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(5), pages 311-324.
    6. Vermeulen, W.J.V. & Kok, M.T.J., 2012. "Government interventions in sustainable supply chain governance: Experience in Dutch front-running cases," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 183-196.
    7. Walter J. V. Vermeulen & Stefan Seuring, 2009. "Sustainability through the market - the impacts of sustainable supply chain management: introduction," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(5), pages 269-273.
    8. Romy Morana & Stefan Seuring, 2011. "A Three Level Framework for Closed-Loop Supply Chain Management—Linking Society, Chain and Actor Level," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(4), pages 1-14, April.
    9. Hans Haake & Stefan Seuring, 2009. "Sustainable procurement of minor items - exploring limits to sustainability," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(5), pages 284-294.

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