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Environmental or sustainable supply chain performance measurement standards and certifications

Grant, David B.; Shaw, Sarah


David B. Grant

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Dr Sarah Shaw
Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Supply Chain Management


Joseph Sarkis


Never before has sustainable management been so crucial in a world of limited natural resources, climate change, and a growing human population projected to reach 12 billion by 2100 (IPCC, 2017). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) notes in its ISO 26000 standard for social responsibility (ISO 26000, 2017) that organizations no longer operate ‘in a vacuum. Their relationship to the society and [the] environment in which they operate is a critical factor in their ability to continue to operate effectively’. Such operations require environmental or sustainable (hereinafter, environmental) performance measures to identify how organizations are performing and where improvement is required.

Traditionally, supply chain performance measures have been oriented around cost, time and accuracy. Nowadays organizations are looking to include measures related to the natural environment and sustainability as part of their corporate social responsibility
(CSR) initiatives. However, there has been limited research into developing and incorporating wider sustainability measures into the existing bank of supply chain performance measures (Beske-Janssen et al., 2015), and as a result academics and organizations may
be confused by the plethora of measures and any related accredited standards and certifications.

Furthermore, environmental standards and certifications are now an important requirement in modern-day supply chains to ensure organizations are accountable and able to demonstrate that they are operating responsibly and ethically. Outputs required for achieving standards and certifications comprise measures of performance against a norm or benchmark. Performance measures thus allow organizations to track progress against strategy, identify opportunities for improvement and act as a good benchmark against competitors or industry leaders in order to allow managers to make better decisions (Shaw et al., 2010).

This chapter discusses these issues by firstly reviewing academic and practitioner literature underpinning environmental performance measurement and standards and certifications. Next, 19 popular standards and certifications are presented and categorized
by key criteria such as the business areas they certify or focus upon, whether they are mandatory or voluntary, and whether they are audited or non-audited schemes. Then, three key functional supply chain areas ‒ buildings and facilities (that is, warehouses and
factories), production and operations, and transportation ‒ are explored in more detail relative to corresponding standards and certifications. Finally, the chapter concludes by raising some key challenges for these topics, and suggests a future research agenda.


Grant, D. B., & Shaw, S. (2019). Environmental or sustainable supply chain performance measurement standards and certifications. In J. Sarkis (Ed.), Handbook on the sustainable supply chain (357–376). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Online Publication Date Mar 29, 2019
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Jul 29, 2019
Publisher Edward Elgar Publishing
Pages 357–376
Series Title Research handbooks in business and management
Book Title Handbook on the sustainable supply chain
Chapter Number 20
ISBN 9781786434265
Public URL
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