Economic activity is driven by trade. Material flows, or supply chains, are highly complex, dynamic, time-sensitive, and integrated systems. Freight transportation networks are used to move goods, and must offer rapid, reliable, and efficient service to meet the demands of today’s volatile global marketplace. If a transportation supply chain becomes uncompetitive, it quickly loses market share and suffers immediate economic consequences. Global supply chains also have significant impacts on the world environment and local communities. The increased recognition of the environmental and human impacts of supply chain activities has led to public pressure for rapid action, leading to fragmented, conflicting, and multi-layered regulatory structures. The complex nature of these regulations can make compliance challenging, impede supply chain innovation, and, ultimately, may not achieve the desired environmental outcomes. Because an efficient supply chain is a critical component for economic competitiveness at both a regional and national level, it must be considered when developing environmental policies and regulations; otherwise, economic growth and job creation can be hampered. There is growing recognition that the concept of sustainability is not limited to environmental issues. Sustainability requires a systemic approach that integrates environmental, economic, and social responsibility factors. This approach can result in a successful “triple-win” outcome.Research is needed to identify successes and develop strategies and tools that will help decisionmakers reach sustainable outcomes that will enhance economic development and improve the environment in a socially responsible manner. A plan for communicating key findings to decisionmakers is also important. Because of the current high level of concern and regulatory activity at all government levels regarding air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, research should first focus on these environmental issues.
The objective of this research is to identify potential strategies for accelerating environmental improvement, enhancing performance, and promoting social responsibility of the supply chain. This research should provide information to improve the understanding of decisionmakers regarding the impact of environmental policies and regulations on the supply chain, focusing on the interrelationships between economic drivers and competition considerations of supply chain business and air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) policies and regulations. The research approach adopted for this effort should also be transferrable to future studies that address other important environmental concerns and create sustainable outcomes.