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Building a Sustainable EU Defence Supply Chain: The Role of Green Technologies and Practices

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Green technology, also known as clean technology or environmental technology, refers to the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable practices in the development and production of goods and services. In the defence industry, green technology is used to reduce the environmental impact of defence-related activities, such as manufacturing, logistics, and operations.

One of the key aspects of green technology in the defence industry is the use of renewable energy sources. This includes the use of solar, wind, and hydropower for defence-related activities, such as powering military bases and vehicles. This not only reduces the reliance on fossil fuels, but also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Additionally, green technology also includes the development of energy-efficient products, such as vehicles, weapons, and equipment.

"Green technology is no longer just an option, it's a strategic imperative. Investing in green technologies will not only reduce our environmental footprint, but it will also give us a strategic advantage in the global defence industry by improving our operational capabilities, reducing costs and keeping our forces safer." General James Mattis, former United States Secretary of Defence.

Another important aspect of green technology in the defence industry is the use of sustainable materials and manufacturing processes. This includes the use of recycled materials in the production of defence-related products, as well as the use of manufacturing processes that minimise waste and pollution.

Additionally, the use of biodegradable materials, such as biofuels, in defence-related activities helps to reduce the environmental impact. Furthermore, green technologies also include the use of sustainable logistics and supply chain management, as well as the use of sustainable practices in the management of defence-related activities such as training, testing, and operations.

The European Union (EU) has been actively promoting the use of green technologies in the defence industry as part of its efforts to achieve its climate and energy goals. The EU has set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy sources in its defence-related activities.

In terms of progress, the EU has made some strides in implementing green technologies in the defence industry. The EU Defence Fund, established in 2017, provides funding for research and development of green technologies in the defence sector, such as hybrid and electric military vehicles, and energy-efficient military equipment. Additionally, the EU is also working on developing sustainable logistics and supply chain management practices in the defence sector.

The EU has also been promoting collaboration and cooperation among member states and the defence industry to develop and implement green technologies. The European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) is one of the initiatives that aims to support R&D, innovation and the development of new products and technologies in the field of Defence, including green technologies.

However, progress so far has been limited, and the EU's defence industry is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and the implementation of green technologies in the defence sector is still in its early stages. Additionally, the defence industry is facing a number of challenges, such as budget constraints and the need to maintain a high level of operational readiness, which may impede the progress of green technologies.

Why implementing green technologies is highly necessary for the defence supply chain?

Implementing green technologies in the EU defence supply chain is important for several reasons:

Compliance The EU has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy, and defence suppliers need to comply with these regulations to be eligible for contracts.

Security of supply Increasing the use of renewable energy in the defence sector can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and improve the security of the energy supply.

Risk reduction Adopting green technologies can reduce risks associated with the defence supply chain, such as the risk of oil spills or dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Innovation The defence industry can benefit from the innovation and advancements in green technologies, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, and support European companies to develop new technologies.

Cost savings Implementing green technologies can lead to cost savings in the long term, such as reducing the need for fossil fuels and decreasing maintenance costs.

Societal expectations There is a growing expectation from EU citizens for their government and organisations to act more sustainably and responsibly. Implementing green technologies in the defence supply chain can help meet these expectations and improve the reputation and public trust of the EU defence industry.

How businesses should implement green technologies in their defence supply chain system?

One way for businesses to build a sustainable defence supply chain through implementing green technologies is to conduct a sustainability assessment of their supply chain.

This assessment should identify areas where improvements can be made in terms of energy efficiency, resource use, and waste reduction. By identifying these areas, businesses can then develop and implement strategies to address them, such as investing in renewable energy or incorporating sustainable materials in their products.

Here are a few best practices to start implementing green technologies in the defence supply chain:

  1. Conduct a sustainability assessment of your supply chain: Identify areas where improvements can be made in terms of energy efficiency, resource use, and waste reduction. This will help you understand the specific areas where green technologies can be implemented and provide a starting point for your sustainability efforts.

  2. Set sustainability targets and develop a plan: Based on the results of your sustainability assessment, set specific, measurable, and achievable targets for your business or organisation. Develop a plan outlining the steps that will be taken to achieve those targets, including timelines and resources required.

  3. Invest in renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies: Invest in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower, as well as energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting and smart control systems. This will help reduce your environmental impact and lead to long-term cost savings.

  4. Incorporate sustainable materials and products: Incorporate sustainable materials such as recycled metals and bioplastics in the production of defence products. Implement sustainable sourcing practices to ensure that materials are sourced responsibly.

  5. Engage with suppliers and partners: Engage with your suppliers and partners in implementing sustainable practices. Set sustainability targets for suppliers, implement sustainable procurement practices, and provide training and support to help suppliers improve their sustainability performance.

  6. Implement sustainable logistics and transportation strategies: Invest in more efficient transportation methods, such as electric vehicles or rail transport, and implement sustainable practices such as optimised routing and scheduling.

  7. Communicate and report: Communicate and report your sustainability goals, targets and achievements. This will help to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and improve your reputation and trust among your stakeholders.

It's worth noting that implementing green technologies in the defence supply chain can be a complex and challenging task, so it's important to start small, focus on a few key areas, and build from there.

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