Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 -- 1709 2024-03-12 18:48:23 |
2 layout Meta information modification 1709 2024-03-13 02:37:34 |

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
Gonçalves, H.; Magalhães, V.S.M.; Ferreira, L.M.D.F.; Arantes, A. Sustainable Supply Chain Management Barriers. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 23 April 2024).
Gonçalves H, Magalhães VSM, Ferreira LMDF, Arantes A. Sustainable Supply Chain Management Barriers. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 23, 2024.
Gonçalves, Hugo, Vanessa S. M. Magalhães, Luís M. D. F. Ferreira, Amílcar Arantes. "Sustainable Supply Chain Management Barriers" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 23, 2024).
Gonçalves, H., Magalhães, V.S.M., Ferreira, L.M.D.F., & Arantes, A. (2024, March 12). Sustainable Supply Chain Management Barriers. In Encyclopedia.
Gonçalves, Hugo, et al. "Sustainable Supply Chain Management Barriers." Encyclopedia. Web. 12 March, 2024.
Sustainable Supply Chain Management Barriers

Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) integrates economic, social, and environmental goals within the supply chain to enhance long-term performance. It assists organizations in monitoring their performance concerning social, environmental, and economic factors to bolster sustainability.

sustainable supply chain management sustainability best–worst method multi-criteria decision-making barriers

1. Introduction

Traditional supply chain management (SCM) primarily focuses on the efficiency and flexibility of a supply chain in the process of transforming raw materials and production procedures into products for delivery to consumers [1]. However, in recent years, the environment has emerged as a global concern, driven mainly by the increasing human population and industrial activities that contribute to global warming, natural resource depletion, and biodiversity loss [2][3][4]. This shift in the environmental landscape makes it increasingly imperative for SCM to consider the sustainability of the supply chain.
With a strong emphasis on closed-loop production and consumption, as well as a growing awareness of the environmental impacts of supply chains and the depletion of resources and raw materials, the concept of sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) has come to the forefront [1]. Factors driving this transition include the rapid pace of production and consumption enabled by cutting-edge technologies, rising pollution levels, and the increased exploitation of natural resources for the sake of economic growth. Moreover, implementing stricter environmental regulations, which mandate binding environmental legislation, and the pressure exerted by consumers on regulators and organizations operating within the industry have further fueled the shift toward SSCM [5].
Sustainability is generally defined as using resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs [6]. This concept has evolved over time to include a comprehensive approach known as the Triple-Bottom-Line (TBL) approach [7]. The TBL approach considers a broad range of indicators and criteria for measuring organizational success, encompassing not only environmental factors but also social and economic aspects [8]. SSCM integrates the TBL approach to improve long-term performance and allow organizations to distinguish themselves from their competitors, gain a greater competitive advantage in the market, and achieve long-term benefits [7][9]. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that businesses can increase revenue by implementing and promoting socially and environmentally responsible business practices, as these activities impact consumer attitudes and behavior [10]. Many organizations have already committed to transforming their supply chains into sustainable ones [11]. With increased environmental impact, developing and implementing sustainability practices in supply chains has become critical. To achieve this transformation, most organizations must adapt their supply chains by implementing various strategies, such as sourcing or producing products with recyclable, reusable, or recycled materials [11][12]. However, when transitioning from traditional supply chain management (SCM) to SSCM, some obstacles or barriers are to be expected [12][13].
SSCM practices can be enabled or hindered by various contingent factors like the organization’s size, culture, location, and supply chain partners [14]. As Sarkis et al. [15] point out, it is crucial to identify the barriers to the implementation of SSCM to ensure sustainable production and development practices. Therefore, organizations must identify and prioritize the most significant barriers while understanding their links to help decision-makers formulate strategies to eliminate these challenges during SSCM implementation [13][16], particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—context that has received scarce attention [17][18].

2. Sustainable Supply Chain Management

There are various definitions of SSCM in the literature. According to Ahi and Searcy [7], SSCM can be defined as the establishment of coordinated supply chains through the voluntary integration of economic, environmental, and social considerations, with key inter-organizational business systems designed to efficiently and effectively manage the flows of materials, information, and capital associated with the acquisition, production, and distribution of products/services. The aim is to satisfy stakeholder requirements while increasing the organization’s profit, competitiveness, and resilience in the short and long term.
SSCM has garnered increased attention worldwide, primarily due to government regulations, consumer pressure for sustainable products, market dynamics, growing public concern and awareness, and the competitive opportunities it offers [19][20][21]. Consequently, there has been a surge in the popularity of SSCM, compelling organizations to adapt their supply chain activities accordingly [1]. This adaptation allows organizations to enhance their sustainable development while reaping social, environmental, and economic benefits [4].
Many industrial activities have resulted in global environmental impacts and harm to human life and the environment [19]. This negative increase in environmental impacts has prompted various groups to intervene, including politicians and environmental activists, to tighten government regulations [22][23][24]. Considering this, governments have implemented stricter standards and regulations, compelling organizations to adhere to more sustainable practices [25]. This, in turn, has led organizations to better understand the influence of environmental, economic, and social factors in their activities, fostering a growing interest in pursuing sustainability [26].
The pursuit of sustainability has started to reshape the competitive landscape, driving organizations and supply chains to re-evaluate their processes, technologies, and products. Despite understanding current market needs, many organizations still engage in unsustainable operations. However, there is an increasing trend in their efforts to integrate sustainability into their operations and supply chains [27][28]. Implementing sustainable innovation practices is the key for organizations and supply chains to achieve sustainability [29][30]. Sustainable innovation can be defined as introducing innovative practices into production processes to reduce environmental damage [29]. These practices assist organizations in addressing sustainability issues [31][32] while considering the TBL approach [33][34]. SSCM can be linked to practices such as green design, production planning and control for remanufacturing, reverse logistics, energy use, stock management, product recovery, waste management, and emission reduction [35].

3. Sustainable Supply Chain Management Adoption

The high cost associated with adopting SSCM practices often leads professionals to hesitate, even in the face of substantial market pressure [36][37]. Many organizations now outsource most of their production activities to companies in developing economies to maintain profit margins [38]. However, this profit-focused approach can sometimes lead to the neglect of social and environmental issues [39]. Multinational organizations and companies based in developed countries extend and share their sustainability initiatives and experiences with organizations in developing countries and emerging economies. This collaboration can lead to forming partnerships within various supply chains, furthering the goal of achieving sustainability [12].
In conclusion, given the adverse environmental effects, top priority should be given to implementing and maintaining sustainable supply chains to ensure proper and sustainable development for future generations [4]. Silvestre [40] argues that sustainable supply chains should be viewed as a continuous journey rather than a fixed destination. As supply chains progress toward sustainable practices, they undergo a complex, dynamic, and evolving learning process. Therefore, the transformation to SSCM is an ongoing journey where multifaceted efforts guide the transition from traditional supply chains to sustainable ones [41].

4. Sustainable Supply Chain Management Benefits

Managing operations, resources, and information within supply chains enables the maximization of profits and social welfare while minimizing environmental concerns and operating costs [29][42]. SSCM plays a pivotal role in reducing the negative impacts of supply chain operations and improving organizations’ efficiency from a TBL perspective [43][44]. SSCM initiatives serve as a means for companies to achieve sustainability [45][46]. Consequently, companies have increasingly integrated sustainability into their supply chains to enhance their brand and image, manage supply chain risks such as environmental damage and labor disputes, ensure business continuity, and minimize potential disruptions and costs [25][47][48]. Therefore, sustainable management in a supply chain contributes to long-term environmental, social, and economic benefits for companies and customers. Additionally, SSCM practices enable the integration of techniques to prevent or minimize environmental degradation, including harmful gas emissions, water pollution, and soil pollution. These efforts aim to improve economic performance, maximize profit, build a reputation, and gain a competitive advantage [4][49].
SSCM ensures best production practices throughout a product’s life cycle [50] and connects development with environmental concerns, thereby driving political and economic change at local, national, and global levels [51]. To create a sustainable product for end-users, sustainable practices must be embraced by producers, sellers, and suppliers [7]. Organizations aspiring to achieve sustainability within their supply chains must foster innovation to address the negative impacts [52][53]. According to Aguado et al. [54], sustainable innovation offers numerous benefits to organizations, including an enhanced social image, increased profits, and reduced operational costs. For Kusi-Sarpong et al. [29], it also leads to stock and income improvements, cost reductions, and an expanded market share.

5. Sustainable Supply Chain Management Barriers

Companies typically encounter a multitude of barriers when attempting to integrate sustainable innovations. Some of these challenges arise from the absence of strong institutions that provide systematic guidance for organizations seeking to implement innovative processes [55]. Successful innovation depends on a diverse range of resources, including financial capacity, access to funding, the recruitment of highly qualified teams, market knowledge, research, and development, as well as effective collaboration and cooperation among supply chain partners [56].
To navigate these challenges, it is essential to equip employees within supply chain companies with a better understanding of the nature of these barriers and strategies to overcome them. This empowers them to address barriers positively and drive changes toward sustainability [12]. However, the consolidation and simultaneous implementation of all these strategies can be a complex undertaking. Therefore, companies must identify and prioritize the barriers hindering them from achieving their goals and develop strategies to overcome them [12]. Nevertheless, implementing SSCM in traditional supply chains is consistently a complex task.
According to Seuring [57], major SSCM initiatives often face challenges during implementation, whether in a production or service context, primarily due to insufficient attention given to barriers. As Ageron et al. [58] noted, 35% of organizations fail to adopt SSCM because they lack awareness of critical barriers. Consequently, it is essential for professionals to not only explore these barriers based on their organization’s nature but also assess the importance of each one to determine its priority. This approach allows organizations to identify strategies for overcoming existing barriers to implementing sustainability in supply chains. These strategies involve specific action plans aimed at helping organizations, and their supply chains confront the challenges of implementing sustainability. However, the number of comprehensive studies identifying both barriers and the strategies to overcome them is still limited [12].
The 94 articles selected for an in-depth literature analysis revealed that some authors present barrier compilations without specifying their categories [59][60][61][62]. However, the in-depth analysis made it possible to compile an exhaustive list of 80 barriers to SSCM adoption and classify them into nine categories (see Table 1).
Table 1. Categories of barriers to SSCM implementation.
Code Categories of Barriers Source
T Technological [3][12][13]
EF Economic and financial [3][12][16]
S Supplier-related [3][16]
I Information-related [16]
MN Market and networking [12]
HR Human resources [16]
SC Social and cultural [3][12]
RI Regulatory and institutional [3][16][51]
O Organizational [12][16][51]


  1. Shekarian, E.; Ijadi, B.; Zare, A.; Majava, J. Sustainable Supply Chain Management: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of Industrial Practices. Sustainability 2022, 14, 7892.
  2. Luthra, S.; Garg, D.; Haleem, A. An analysis of interactions among critical success factors to implement green supply chain management towards sustainability: An indian perspective. Resour. Policy 2015, 46, 37–50.
  3. Ghazilla, R.; Sakundarini, N.; Rashid, S.; Ayub, N.; Olugu, E.; Musa, S. Drivers and barriers analysis for green manufacturing practices in Malaysian SMEs: A preliminary findings. Procedia CIRP 2015, 26, 658–663.
  4. Moktadir, M.A.; Ali, S.M.; Rajesh, R.; Paul, S.K. Modeling the interrelationships among barriers to sustainable supply chain management in leather industry. J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 181, 631–651.
  5. Rajeev, A.; Pati, R.K.; Padhi, S.S.; Govindan, K. Evolution of sustainability in supply chain management: A literature review. J. Clean. Prod. 2017, 162, 299–314.
  6. Pazienza, M.; de Jong, M.; Schoenmaker, D. Clarifying the Concept of Corporate Sustainability and Providing Convergence for Its Definition. Sustainability 2022, 14, 7838.
  7. Ahi, P.; Searcy, C. A comparative literature analysis of definitions for green and sustainable supply chain management. J. Clean. Prod. 2013, 52, 329–341.
  8. Goel, P. Triple bottom line reporting: An analytical approach for corporate sustainability. J. Financ. Account. Manag. 2010, 1, 27–42.
  9. Paul, A.; Shukla, N.; Paul, S.K.; Trianni, A. Sustainable Supply Chain Management and Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Methods: A Systematic Review. Sustainability 2021, 13, 7104.
  10. Hou, Y.; Khokhar, M.; Sharma, A.; Sarkar, J.B.; Hossain, M.A. Converging concepts of sustainability and supply chain networks: A systematic literature review approach. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 2023, 30, 46120–46130.
  11. Govindan, K.; Azevedo, S.G.; Carvalho, H.; Cruz-Machado, V. Impact of supply chain management practices on sustainability. J. Clean. Prod. 2014, 85, 212–225.
  12. Gupta, H.; Kusi-Sarpong, S.; Rezaei, J. Barriers and overcoming strategies to supply chain sustainability innovation. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2020, 161, 104819.
  13. Govindan, K.; Kaliyan, M.; Kannan, D.; Haq, A.N. Barriers analysis for green supply chain management implementation in Indian industries using analytic hierarchy process. Int. J. Prod. Econ. 2014, 147, 555–568.
  14. Mastos, T.; Gotzamani, K. Sustainable Supply Chain Management in the Food Industry: A Conceptual Model from a Literature Review and a Case Study. Foods 2022, 11, 2295.
  15. Sarkis, J.; Zhu, Q.; Lai, K. An organizational theoretic review of green supply chain management literature. Int. J. Prod. Econ. 2011, 130, 1–15.
  16. Majumdar, A.; Sinha, S.K. Analyzing the barriers of green textile supply chain management in Southeast Asia using interpretive structural modeling. Sustain. Prod. Consum. 2019, 17, 176–187.
  17. Tsvetkova, D.; Bengtsson, E.; Durst, S. Maintaining sustainable practices in SMEs: Insights from Sweden. Sustainability 2020, 12, 10242.
  18. Edeigba, J.; Arasanmi, C. An empirical analysis of SMES’ triple bottom line practices. J. Account. Organ. Chang. 2022, 18, 238–259.
  19. Badri Ahmadi, H.; Kusi-Sarpong, S.; Rezaei, J. Assessing the social sustainability of supply chains using Best Worst Method. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2017, 126, 99–106.
  20. Luthra, S.; Mangla, S.K. When strategies matter: Adoption of sustainable supply chain management practices in an emerging economy’s context. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2018, 138, 194–206.
  21. Kusi-Sarpong, S.; Gupta, H.; Khan, S.A.; Jabbour, C.J.C.; Rehman, S.T.; Kusi- Sarpong, H. Sustainable supplier selection based on industry 4.0 initiatives within the context of circular economy implementation in sustainable supply chain operations. Prod. Plan. Control. 2023, 34, 999–1019.
  22. Kumar, A.; Dixit, G. An analysis of barriers affecting the implementation of e-waste management practices in India: A novel ISM-DEMATEL approach. Sustain. Prod. Consum. 2018, 14, 36–52.
  23. Kumar, A.; Dixit, G. Evaluating critical barriers to implementation of WEEE management using Dematel approach. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2018, 131, 101–121.
  24. Luthra, S.; Govindan, K.; Kannan, D.; Mangla, S.K.; Garg, C.P. An integrated framework for sustainable supplier selection and evaluation in supply chains. J. Clean. Prod. 2017, 140, 1686–1698.
  25. Bai, C.; Kusi-Sarpong, S.; Badri Ahmadi, H.; Sarkis, J. Social sustainable supplier evaluation and selection: A group decision-support approach. Int. J. Prod. Res. 2019, 57, 7046–7067.
  26. Zhang, H.; Li, L.; Zhou, P.; Hou, J.; Qiu, Y. Subsidy Modes, Waste Cooking Oil and Biofuel: Policy Effectiveness and Sustainable Supply Chains in China. Energy Policy 2014, 65, 270–274.
  27. Ferreira, L.M.D.F.; Silva, C. Integrating Sustainability Metrics in the Supply Chain Performance Measurement System. In Multiple Helix Ecosystems for Sustainable Competitiveness; Peris-Ortiz, M., Ferreira, J., Farinha, L., Fernandes, N., Eds.; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2016; pp. 113–132.
  28. Bai, C.; Sarkis, J. Integrating sustainability into supplier selection: A grey-based Topsis analysis. Technol. Econ. Dev. Econ. 2018, 24, 2202–2224.
  29. Kusi-Sarpong, S.; Gupta, H.; Sarkis, J. A supply chain sustainability innovation framework and evaluation methodology. Int. J. Prod. Res. 2019, 57, 1990–2008.
  30. Gupta, H.; Barua, M.K. A grey DEMATEL-based approach for modeling enablers of green innovation in manufacturing organizations. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 2018, 25, 9556–9578.
  31. Cai, W.G.; Zhou, X.L. On the drivers of eco-innovation: Empirical evidence from China. J. Clean. Prod. 2014, 79, 239–248.
  32. Isaksson, R.; Johansson, P.; Fischer, K. Detecting supply chain innovation potential for sustainable development. J. Bus. Ethics 2010, 97, 425–442.
  33. Beise, M.; Rennings, K. Lead markets and regulation: A framework for analysing the international diffusion of environmental innovations. Ecol. Econ. 2005, 52, 5–17.
  34. De Marchi, V. Environmental innovation and R&D cooperation: Empirical evidence from Spanish manufacturing firms. Res. Policy 2012, 41, 614–623.
  35. Zailani, S.; Jeyaraman, K.; Vengadasan, G.; Premkumar, R. Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) in Malaysia: A survey. Int. J. Prod. Econ. 2012, 140, 330–340.
  36. Keating, B.; Quazi, A.; Kriz, A.; Coltman, T. In pursuit of a sustainable supply chain: Insights from westpac banking corporation. Supply Chain Manag. 2008, 13, 175–179.
  37. Kleindorfer, R.; Singhal, K.; Wassenhove, L. Sustainable operations management. Prod. Oper. Manag. 2009, 14, 482–492.
  38. Pagell, M.; Wu, Z.; Wasserman, M. Thinking Differently About Purchasing Portfolios: An Assessment of Sustainable Sourcing. J. Supply Chain Manag. 2010, 46, 57–73.
  39. Ansari, N.; Kant, R. A State-of-Art Literature Review Reflecting 15 Years of Focus on Sustainable Supply Chain Management. J. Clean. Prod. 2017, 142, 2524–2543.
  40. Silvestre, B.S. Sustainable supply chain management in emerging economies: Environmental turbulence, institutional voids and sustainability trajectories. Int. J. Prod. Econ. 2015, 167, 156–169.
  41. Roy, V.; Schoenherr, T.; Charan, P. Toward an organizational understanding of the transformation needed for sustainable supply chain management: The concepts of force-field and differential efforts. J. Purch. Supply Manag. 2020, 26, 100612.
  42. Hassini, E.; Surti, C.; Searcy, C. A literature review and a case study of sustainable supply chains with a focus on metrics. Int. J. Prod. Econ. 2012, 140, 69–82.
  43. Wong, W.P.; Tseng, M.L.; Tan, K.H. A business process management capabilities perspective on organisation performance. Total Qual. Manag. Bus. Excell. 2014, 25, 602–617.
  44. Chacón Vargas, J.R.; Moreno Mantilla, C.E.; de Sousa Jabbour, A.B.L. Enablers of sustainable supply chain management and its effect on competitive advantage in the Colombian context. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2018, 139, 237–250.
  45. Danese, P.; Lion, A.; Vinelli, A. Drivers and enablers of supplier sustainability practices: A survey-based analysis. Int. J. Prod. Res. 2018, 57, 2034–2056.
  46. Das, D. Sustainable supply chain management in Indian organisations: An empirical investigation. Int. J. Prod. Res. 2018, 56, 5776–5794.
  47. Gouda, S.K.; Saranga, H. Sustainable supply chains for supply chain sustainability: Impact of sustainability efforts on supply chain risk. Int. J. Prod. Res. 2018, 56, 5820–5835.
  48. Romano, A.L.; Ferreira, L.M.D.; Caeiro, S.S.F. Modelling sustainability risk in the Brazilian cosmetics industry. Sustainability 2021, 13, 13771.
  49. Diabat, A.; Govindan, K. An analysis of the drivers affecting the implementation of green supply chain management. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2011, 55, 659–667.
  50. Mathivathanan, D.; Kannan, D.; Haq, A.N. Sustainable supply chain management practices in Indian automotive industry: A multi-stakeholder view. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2018, 128, 284–305.
  51. Mangla, S.; Govindan, K.; Luthra, S. Prioritizing the barriers to achieve sustainable consumption and production trends in supply chains using fuzzy Analytical Hierarchy Process. J. Clean. Prod. 2017, 151, 509–525.
  52. Klewitz, J.; Hansen, E.G. Sustainability-oriented innovation of SMEs: A systematic review. J. Clean. Prod. 2014, 65, 57–75.
  53. Koberg, E.; Longoni, A. A systematic review of sustainable supply chain management in global supply chains. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 207, 1084–1098.
  54. Aguado, S.; Alvarez, R.; Domingo, R. Model of efficient and sustainable improvements in a lean production system through processes of environmental innovation. J. Clean. Prod. 2013, 47, 141–148.
  55. Guerin, T.F. Why sustainable innovations are not always adopted. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2001, 34, 1–18.
  56. D’Este, P.; Iammarino, S.; Savona, M.; Tunzelmann, N. What hampers innovation? Revealed barriers versus deterring barriers. Res. Policy 2012, 41, 482–488.
  57. Seuring, S. A review of modeling approaches for sustainable supply chain management. Decis. Support Syst. 2013, 54, 1513–1520.
  58. Ageron, B.; Gunasekaran, A.; Spalanzani, A. Sustainable supply management: An Empirical Study. Int. J. Prod. Econ. 2012, 140, 168–182.
  59. Patel, A.; Desai, T. A systematic review and meta-analysis of recent developments in sustainable supply chain management. Int. J. Logist. Res. Appl. 2019, 22, 349–370.
  60. Tumpa, T.J.; Ali, S.M.; Rahman, M.H.; Paul, S.K.; Chowdhury, P.; Rehman Khan, S.A. Barriers to green supply chain management: An emerging economy context. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 236, 117617.
  61. Lamba, N.; Thareja, P. Developing the structural model based on analyzing the relationship between the barriers of green supply chain management using TOPSIS approach. Mater. Today Proc. 2020, 43, 1–8.
  62. Lamba, N.; Thareja, P. Modelling of barriers pertaining to implementation of green supply chain management using ISM approach. Mater. Today Proc. 2020, 43, 9–16.
Contributors MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to : , , ,
View Times: 69
Revisions: 2 times (View History)
Update Date: 13 Mar 2024