The Baker Forum on Energy and the Environment continued with a lecture on how businesses can implement business strategies that can give back to the environment.
Hosted in the Howard H. Baker Center, the Interdisciplinary Discussion Forums for Energy and the Environment featured Diane Mollenkopf and John Bell, associate professors of logistics, who presented solutions and strategies for business resource management.
"We can no longer assume that natural resources are abundant," Mollenkopf explained, addressing an issue she said will affect our economy in the coming decades.
Despite the fact that natural resources are being polluted or diminished while the population grows, many businesses have not taken natural resource scarcity into account in their business or supply chain models.
Mollenkopf and Bell, specialists in supply chain management and natural resource scarcity, respectively, have been sharing their knowledge and research on how creating closed-loop supply chains will allow more sustainable supply systems. These systems also give the businesses that employ them a competitive advantage.
Closed-loop supply chains are systems where businesses get products they disseminate to consumers returned to them in order to reuse the scarce natural resources within them. Those resources can include rare earth metals (in batteries, computers and other electronics) and other recyclable materials.
Developing these closed-loop supply chains would give those businesses that create them today an advantage in the future when these materials become scarce. Businesses will have a process to attain these materials, while other businesses will not.
Most of the people at the forum were graduate students or faculty members.
Elliott Iberg, sophomore in marketing, was encouraged by his professor to attend the lecture. Although he was one of the few undergraduate students at the forum, Iberg felt the event was eye-opening for all ages.
"I thought it was really interesting," Iberg said. "Some of the ideas were really revolutionary. There seem to be some problems employing them, but it's a great cause and these ideas would have a good impact on the environment.
"They are changing how we view resources in general," he added.
The next forum in the series will be Oct. 18 at the Baker Center, with speaker David Tillman discussing how to provide food and water to a larger future population.