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Sustainable supply chain management in a global context: a consistency analysis in the textile industry between environmental management practices at company level and sectoral and global environmental challenges

Abstract

In a global context, it is crucial to measure and report the corporate sustainability impacts taking into account what is happening along the whole supply chains. The objective of this study is to analyze whether environmental measurement and reporting practices, currently developed by companies under a global supply chain context, are aligned with global environmental challenges and the environmental hotspots at the sectoral level. To tackle this objective, this study has been focused on the textile sector, due to the relevance of its environmental impacts. A research was conducted based on the analysis of global environmental challenges: (1) at company level, on the measurement and reporting of specific environmental indicators connected with the impact categories of the European Organization Environmental Footprint; and (2) on the analysis of textile industry environmental hotspots, through the technical tool SimaPro that allows their quantification and identification along the life cycle phases using different scenarios. The results show a consistency between global environmental challenges and company environmental disclosure; however, a disconnection between the specific environmental indicators reported by textile companies and the main hotspots of the sector are observed. This implies that companies could be managing environmental issues related to global environmental concerns but ignoring those critical environmental issues truly relevant from a technical point of view, according to the nature of their activity. The paper argues that is not only necessary to consider the corporate awareness regarding global environmental challenges, but also to address the real environmental hotspots at the sectoral level. This paper represents a contribution in the discussion about what sustainability management implies along the supply chains, emphasizing the need to advance in a consistent and science-based integration of global environmental challenges, environmental hotspots at the sectoral level and environmental management practices at company level. The results obtained help global chain actors and other organizations to address this challenge.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Source: Own creation based on Muñoz-Torres et al. (2018b)

Fig. 3

Source: Muñoz-Torres et al. (2018b)

Fig. 4

Source: Own creation

Fig. 5

Source: SimaPro simulations (Simulation data: February 2019)

Notes

  1. 1.

    List of companies are listed in Muñoz-Torres et al. (2018b) and details are available upon request.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 693642, project SMART (Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade). Moreover, the authors would like to thank José Vicente Gisbert-Navarro for their helpful technical support in the design and analysis of the environmental footprint.

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Muñoz-Torres, M.J., Fernández-Izquierdo, M.Á., Rivera-Lirio, J.M. et al. Sustainable supply chain management in a global context: a consistency analysis in the textile industry between environmental management practices at company level and sectoral and global environmental challenges. Environ Dev Sustain 23, 3883–3916 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-020-00748-4

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Keywords

  • European Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF)
  • Global supply chain
  • Sustainability measurement and reporting
  • Textile industry environmental hotspots