Going Green: The Sustainable Supply Chain
It’s Earth Day. If you have the time, go plant a tree. If you’re like me, stuck working on such a prestigious holiday, take the time to go through your kitchen’s trash and pull out all the recyclables.
Here are some of the best green practices for supply chain management that can help the environment and save you money.
Converting to an automated system
According to greensupplychain.com, switching to a system that automates your supply chain transactions can have a positive effect on the environment and save you a good amount of money, making the automated system a smart supply chain management option.
Two years ago, Burton, the world’s leading snowboard company, made the switch to a completely automated system. In all, this supply chain management maneuver saved Burton an estimated four tons of wood, 30 million BTUs, 5,882 pounds of CO2, 22,219 gallons of wastewater and 1,909 pounds of solid waste. Those are figures that you shouldn’t turn a nose at, as converting to an automated system is a great way to move forward with your supply chain management.
Set standards for your suppliers
Part of successful supply chain management means keeping a close eye on your suppliers. Make sure they’re following all of the industry’s environmental standards. You don’t want to be connected with a company that is found to be dumping all of their waste into a natural reserve.
The Material Handling Industry of America says the best way to handle your suppliers is to keep track of their sustainability goals and metrics, and to help your suppliers succeed by making them accountable. Align your sustainability goals with theirs. Collaboration is always a good idea when talking about successful supply chain management.
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Switching to the plastic pallet
Most companies rely on the wood pallet to handle most of the transportation and storage aspect of their supply chain management. While wood pallets are cheap, they take a heavy toll on the environment.
Wooden pallets are naturally fragile and need to be replaced at an alarming rate. Most pallet companies will say these wooden pallets are easily recyclable, but the truth is these damaged pallets have very little recycling use, and are often burnt. This doesn’t save you money, and can be a wasteful method of supply chain management.
According to the Green Supply Chain Network, the best alternative to these traditional wooden pallets are plastic pallets. Lighter than their wooden counterparts, plastic pallets are easily recyclable. Your company can also join a plastic pallet pooling service, helping cut costs by not running an entire fleet of your own pallets, an excellent green alternative and a smart move when it comes to managing your supply chain.
Google and NIST Address Supply Chain Cybersecurity
As high-level supply chain attacks hit the news, Google and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have both developed proposals for how to address software supply chain security. This isn’t a new field, unfortunately. Since supply chains are a critical part of business resilience, criminals have no qualms about targeting its software. That’s why identifying, assessing, and mitigating cyber supply chain risks (C-SCRM) is at the top of Google and NIST’s respective agendas.
High-Profile Supply Chain Attacks
According to Google, no comprehensive end-to-end framework exists to mitigate threats across the software supply chain. [Yet] ‘there is an urgent need for a solution in the face of the eye-opening, multi-billion-dollar attacks in recent months...some of which could have been prevented or made more difficult’.
Here are several of the largest cybersecurity failures in recent months:
- SolarWinds. Alleged Russian hackers slipped malicious code into a routine software update, which they then used as a Trojan horse for a massive cyberattack.
- Codecov. Attackers used automation to collect credentials and raid ‘additional resources’, such as data from other software development vendors.
- Malicious attacks on open-source repositories. Out of 1,000 GitHub accounts, more than one in five contained at least one dependency confusion-related misconfiguration.
As a result of these attacks and Biden’s recent cybersecurity mandate, NIST and Google took action. NIST held a 1,400-person workshop and published 150 papers worth of recommendations from Microsoft, Synopsys, The Linux Foundation, and other software experts; Google will work with popular source, build, and packaging platforms to help companies implement and excel at their SLSA framework.
What Are Their Recommendations?
Here’s a quick recap: NIST has grouped together recommendations to create federal standards; Google has developed an end-to-end framework called Supply Chain Levels for Software Artifacts (SLSA)—pronounced “Salsa”. Both address software procurement and security.
Now, here’s the slightly more in-depth version:
- NIST. The organisation wants more ‘rigorous and predictable’ ways to secure critical software. They suggest that firms use vulnerability disclosure programmes (VDP) and software bills of materials (SBOM), consider simplifying their software and give at least one developer per project security training.
- Google. The company thinks that SLSA will encompass the source-build-publish software workflow. Essentially, the four-level framework helps businesses make informed choices about the security of the software they use, with SLSA 4 representing an ideal end state.
If this all sounds very abstract, consider the recent SolarWinds attack. The attacker compromised the build platform, installed an implant, and injected malicious behaviour during each build. According to Google, higher SLSA levels would have required stronger security controls for the build platform, making it more difficult for the attacker to succeed.
How Do The Proposals Differ?
As Brian Fox, the co-founder and CTO at Sonatype, sees it, NIST and Google have created proposals that complement each other. ‘The NIST [version] is focused on defining minimum requirements for software sold to the government’, he explained, while Google ‘goes [further] and proposes a specific model for scoring the supply chain. NIST is currently focused on the “what”. Google, along with other industry leaders, is grappling with the “how”’.