Sustainability, the consideration of environmental factors and social aspects, in supply chain management (SCM) has become a highly relevant topic for researchers and practitioners. The application of operations research methods and related models, i.e. formal modeling, for closed-loop SCM and reverse logistics has been effectively reviewed in previously published research. This situation is in contrast to the understanding and review of mathematical models that focus on environmental or social factors in forward supply chains (SC), which has seen less investigation. To evaluate developments and directions of this research area, this paper provides a content analysis of 134 carefully identified papers on quantitative, formal models that address sustainability aspects in the forward SC. It was found that a preponderance of the publications and models appeared in a limited set of six journals, and most were analytically based with a focus on multiple criteria decision making. The tools most often used comprise the analytical hierarchy process or its close relative, the analytical network process, as well as life cycle analysis. Conclusions are drawn showing that numerous possibilities and insights can be gained from expanding the types of tools and factors considered in formal modeling efforts.
European Journal of Operational Research, 2014, Vol 233, Issue 2, p. 299-312