Sustainable Supply Chains (SSC) is a blog and newsletter by me (Kellen Betts) that explores connections and undercurrents at the intersection of sustainability and supply chains.
SSC is a new format that merges my weekly newsletter Supply Chain Weekly with in-depth articles previously published as Manifold.
I will post several days a week, most weeks. Mid-week 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. In some cases my thinking and writing here is unpolished. I am the writer and editor.
Often my work here is related to projects I am involved in at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, where I recently helped produce the 2021 State of Supply Chain Sustainability and work on other sustainability-focused projects.
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 supply chain sustainability from the more immediate to the outer reaches of the space. 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,1 David Roberts,2 and many other writers. This will disappoint those who look 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?
Sometime on or after September 1, 2021 I will introduce a new paid subscription tier at $5 per month to help support and build a community around this effort. The Friday newsletter and one of the other articles each week will remain free indefinitely.
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 Project Manager supporting sustainability-related projects at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. I wear a number of hats in this role including data analysis, writing and editing reports, website design and development, and collaborating with industry, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders to advance supply chain sustainability.
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 does facilitate paid subscriptions — which are paid by subscribers directly to the writer — and charges a fee for the transactions.
Opinions, errors and omissions.
All opinions, errors and omissions are the sole responsibility of Kellen or the contributor to SSC.
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Roberts, D. (Accessed July, 2021) Volts: a newsletter about clean energy and politics.