Sustainability in the supply chain is increasingly recognised as a key factor in corporate responsibility. But, as supply chains feature markets and relationships that evolve constantly, how can this be achieved?
Firstly, gather the support of everyone in the business by building a convincing case for action, outlining all of the potential benefits that a more sustainable supply chain will bring.
Reputation and brand value
These are likely to include: a reduced risk of business disruption as a result of environmental, social and economic factors; the protection of the company’s reputation and brand value; reduced labour, material and energy costs; and increased productivity.
Increasingly, companies are expected to disclose information related to their supply chain. If a supplier’s practices on human rights, labour standards or the environment are found to be sub-standard, it is the customer company that is held to account.
So, companies should only partner with suppliers that share the same sustainability values and goals, wherever possible. A code of conduct is an effective way for firms to involve suppliers in their sustainability efforts.
Digital modelling tools
In terms of improving sustainability, logistics is one of the areas where the biggest tangible difference can be made. Digital modelling tools can help businesses explore alternative and optimal transport options.
For example, a look at supplier geographic spread, modes of transport, logistics fleet size and type, customer delivery requirements and subcontracting options ensures that the supply chain can operate as smoothly as possible, while also greatly reducing food miles, empty miles and carbon emissions.
Moves towards supply chain sustainability benefit the environment, satisfy public demand for greater environmental and ethical awareness and help to drive down costs and boost productivity.