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November 6, 2008 / or4green

EJOR Cluster of Sustainable Development Papers

The 16 March 2009 issue of the European Journal of Operational Research has a feature cluster on OR for Better Management of Sustainable Development. The opening piece by the editors U. Leopold-Wildburger, G. Weber, and M. Zachariasen gives an overview of the cluster. It starts out by defining sustainable development and connecting the cluster to the EURO XXI conference it grew out of:

Sustainable development looks for a continuous improvement of the living and working conditions, providing valuable food and a healthy environment, good education and chances for everyone to master life and to enable them to contribute to the happiness of others. Via its conference theme, EURO XXI 2006 aimed to showcase how OR can improve the management of this important topic that touches everyone in the world.

I took a quick look at one of the papers from the issue, A methodology for assessing eco-efficiency in logistics networks by
J. Quariguasi Frota Neto, G. Walther, J. Bloemhof, J.A.E.E. van Nunen, and T. Spengler. This paper looks at multi-objective optimization of minimizing cost, energy use, and waste. It presents a heuristic aimed at efficiently visualizing the efficient frontier. There is some review of the literature considering the trade-offs among cost/energy/environment. The authors’ heuristic is applied to electronics recycling under the WEEE directive. The paper is primarily methodological and it did seem the method would apply to any kind of multiple objective optimization, not just one with sustainability-related objectives. Maybe it is because I am teaching multivariable calc right now, but given that there were only three objectives, it would have been nice to have seen a plot of the 3-variable efficient frontier, something like this:


Check out the issue on ScienceDirect.

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