Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Environmental Management



PubMed ID





School of Business and Law




Mavi, R. K., Zarbakhshnia, N., Mavi, N. K., & Kazemi, S. (2023). Clustering sustainable suppliers in the plastics industry: A fuzzy equivalence relation approach. Journal of Environmental Management, 345, article 118811.


Nowadays, pure economic supply chain management is not commonly contemplated among companies (especially buyers), as recently novel dimensions of supply chains, e.g., environmental, sustainability, and risk, play significant roles. In addition, since companies prefer buying their needs from a group of suppliers, the problem of supplier selection is not solely choosing or qualifying a supplier from among others. Buyers, hence, commonly assemble a portfolio of suppliers by looking at the multi-dimensional pre-determined selection criteria. Since sustainable supplier selection criteria are often assessed by linguistic terms, an appropriate clustering approach is required. This paper presents an innovative way to implement fuzzy equivalence relation to clustering sustainable suppliers through developing a comprehensive taxonomy of sustainable supplier selection criteria, including supply chain risk. Fifteen experts participated in this study to evaluate 20 suppliers and cluster them in the plastics industry. Findings reveal that the best partitioning occurs when the suppliers are divided into two clusters, with 4 (20%) and 16 (80%) suppliers, respectively. The four suppliers in cluster one are performing better in terms of the capability of supplier/delivery, service, risk, and sustainability criteria such as environment protection/management, and green innovation. These factors are critical in clustering and selecting sustainable suppliers. The originality of this study lies in developing an all-inclusive set of criteria for clustering sustainable suppliers and adding risk factors to the conventional supplier selection criteria. In addition to partitioning the suppliers and determining the best-performing ones, this study also highlights the most influential factors by analysing the suppliers in the best cluster.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.