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SusPlain

Sustainability Explained

Socio-Technical Energy Chain Analysis


Introduction

Supply chain management (SCM) has established itself as an important concept within business. It mainly focuses on economics, but places products and activities within a broader context considering both suppliers and customers up and down the supply chain. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is an environmental tool mainly focusing on products and services, but which also views these activities as part of a larger set of transformations that take place from cradle (resource extraction) to grave (end of life activities). Both frameworks have been extended to consider other impact factors besides economics and environment, however so far it is mainly used to compare two or more alternatives to each other. 

Socio-technical energy chain analysis is based on concepts from both SCM and LCA, but it focuses on how to bring around change. Rather than comparing alternative states, it uses a historical perspective to detect leverages for innovation along the supply chain, which can improve the performance of both individual organizations as well as the supply chain as a whole. Furthermore, it is a management tool that not only focuses on technical innovation, but simultaneously considers the feasibility of these changes within the social context of all actors and stakeholders operating in and around the supply chain. STECA has successfully been used in the chemical industry to transform company strategies and improve overall efficiencies, but can be adapted to look at a range of performance indicators within the context of sustainability.

User examples

1. Development of supply chain policies to increase energy efficiency in one of the largest chemical companies in Europe.