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Challenges in green supply chain management in the pulp and paper industry: a KwaZulu-Natal case study.

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Although, the pulp and paper industry makes a substantial contribution to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) it is also considered to be a major contributor to industrial pollution. As a result, various stakeholders have voiced their concerns forcing companies within the industry to seek alternative practices that support more environmentally friendly operations. This study sought to establish the impact of the industry on the environment as well as the green practices being implemented in the KwaZulu-Natal operations of a pulp and paper company to reduce this impact. The literature consulted for this study suggested that stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, activists and government, may influence a supply chain to become more environmentally friendly or may hinder its efforts to do so. These stakeholders were subsequently identified and their influence assessed. In many other industries, the integration of lean and green supply chain practices results in less operational waste and environmental harm because both paradigms support waste minimisation and both engage employees in continuous improvement. This research suggested ways in which these paradigms might be considered in a more holistic way to exploit possible synergies for the pulp and paper industry. The research was exploratory in nature and a case study approach was used. The transcripts of semi-structured interviews with senior managers in the chosen pulp and paper company were analysed in combination with secondary data. This direct content analysis provided insights into the current green practices of the company and the influence of stakeholders. Evidence was presented on the company’s considerable progress towards a greener supply chain through the introduction of appropriate technology and practices which mitigate its effect on the environment. Stakeholders played a significant role in enabling the company to achieve this. Customers demand certification by standards bodies such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the International Organisation for Standards regulates the industry and ensures that it protects the environment while local communities use waste produced by the company to produce value-added products. However, some suppliers hinder these efforts. It was concluded that the further integration of lean and green practices will allow the company to continue to reduce its impact on the environment.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.