Update: Work on Sustainable Supply Chains is currently on hold while I focus on other projects. I will let you know if I decide to continue publishing here soon!
Sustainable Supply Chains (SSC) is a blog and newsletter by me (Kellen Betts) that explores the sustainability of global supply chains.
You can reach me at email@example.com. I try to respond to every email I receive. You can also reach me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
SSC is a new format that merges my weekly newsletter Supply Chain Weekly with in-depth articles previously published as Manifold.
I post sporadically balancing work on other projects. Often mid-week and weekends you’ll see in-depth articles on a specific topic. Review and analysis of significant recent events from the week will typically go out on Fridays.
I strive to be objective, balanced, and thorough.
I am also writing a book on the subject. Some of my writing here is extracted from that effort when I feel there is material that can stand on its own as a newsletter/blog post without decoupling it from the context it came from in the book. As a subscriber you get a preview of that project and I will update you on my progress.
My overarching goal here is to explore the sustainability of global supply chains from the more immediate to the outer reaches of the time and geography. This manifold encompasses many of the most critical problems facing humanity in the coming decades.
Both “sustainability” and “supply chain” can be vague concepts at times. The lens I will bring here encompasses everything from materials extracted from the biosphere through end-consumers, reverse flows of products and materials, and the connections these activities have with other areas of the economy, including energy, financial markets, digital networks, policies and institutions, and other topics.
This lens will be focused on decarbonization and the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of supply chains. Often sustainability is centered on the environment — often even more narrowly on climate change — and I will spend significant effort exploring the topic. However, I will spend just as much effort on economic sustainability and the many dimensions of social sustainability, including employee welfare and safety, fair pay and fair trade, human rights protection, local community impacts, and supplier diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I will embrace the complexity of this space in unapologetically quantitative, empirical, and philosophical ways. My approach is inspired by Vaclav Smil,David Roberts, and many other writers. This will disappoint those looking for simple frameworks and models rather than complex arguments and careful recounting of cultural, demographic, economic, energetic, environmental, historical, and political variables, processes, and outcomes.
I also hope to create a community of people passionate about understanding this space and building more sustainable supply chains. Please share your knowledge and insights while showing mutual respect and support.
Will there be a paid subscription?
At some point, I am may introduce a paid subscription tier to help support and build a community around this effort. Most, if not all, content here will remain freely accessible.
I respect your privacy and inbox. The only email you will see from SSC will be legitimate posts. I will never share your contact information without your permission.
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A little more about me.
I am a researcher and project manager focused on supply chain sustainability at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. I wear a number of hats in this role including data collection and analysis, writing and editing reports, and collaborating with industry, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders to advance supply chain sustainability. I am also a course lead in the MIT MicroMasters Program in Supply Chain Management.
I have over fifteen years of experience in supply chain and analytics working for small businesses and Fortune 500 corporations. In addition to my writing and work at MIT, I organize Supply Chain Connect, an annual conference on supply chain management and technology in the Pacific Northwest.
Prior to joining MIT, I helped launch a technology platform for port trucking and logistics. I also worked in supply chain, analytics, and engineering at REI, Zulily, PACCAR, JBE Inc., and Vigor Industrial.
I received an M.S. degree in Global Supply Chain Management from Portland State University and an M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Washington.
Disclosure related to Substack.
Kellen and any contributors to SSC are not paid by Substack to publish using its platform. Substack was chosen because it is a convenient tool to send an email newsletter and host the content online. Substack facilitates paid subscriptions — and charges a transaction fees — which are paid by subscribers directly to the writer, but SSC does not currently charge a subscription fee.
Opinions, errors and omissions.
All opinions, errors and omissions are the sole responsibility of Kellen or the contributor to SSC.
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Smil, V. (2021). Grand Transitions: How the Modern World Was Made. Oxford University Press.
Smil, V. (2019). Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities. The MIT Press.
Smil, V. (2017). Energy and Civilization: A History. The MIT Press.
Roberts, D. (Accessed July, 2021) Volts: a newsletter about clean energy and politics.