What does the sustainable supply chain look like in 2016?
Ethical sourcing and sustainability, business have realised, is not just the ideal of a few ethically minded campaigners but a driver of real long-term growth and profitability. Understanding the importance, some companies have made sustainability a core ambition and a powerful differentiator. These companies are leading by example. Analysing thelife cycle of jeans, LevI Strauss & Co found that 3, 800 litres of water were used and 33.4 kg of Co2 were produced in the process of making a pair of jeans. In response, it optimised trucking routes to significantly reduce carbon emissions, implemented a manufacturing process that uses only recycled water, and developed a product line that reduced the water used in finishing by up to 96 per cent. Levi’s has also offered financial incentives for suppliers to comply with its environmental, health, safety, and labour standards in theirterms of engagement. Patagonia, meanwhile, has an ongoing footprint chronicles? on the firm’s website that allows customers to see exactly where products are made. Moreover, following last year’s COP 21 summit, retailers like Ikea and Marks & Spencer vowed to reduce carbon impact, coinciding with a mandate that businesses need to seriously evaluate how operations are impacting climate change. China, meanwhile, was sanctioned for the high level of pollution the country created in manufacturing. Although there is an undeniable movement towards focusing on sourcing, ethical practices, and sustainability with consumers leading the charge not everyone is joining in. There are still far too many stories of businesses allowing appalling working conditions, or allowing illegal materials to enter supply chains. These practices need to be eradicated. As more businesses realise the financial and reputational implications of failing to do so, we will see supply chains become increasingly: (1) Sustainable and ethical: Firms that make sound environmental decisions and uphold ethical’standards providing’sustainable supplier initiatives that help meet environmental, health and safety, and labour standards will be held in the highest regard. (2) Transparent: Having foresight and being certain of what is going on in a supply chain is ultimately crucial. In today’s world of complex supply chains, companies have to respond swiftly to sudden changes and unforeseen disruptions and transparency is critical in battling these challenges. (3) Secure: Having a secure supply chain is essential to mitigate against potential disasters. In some industries this can be a matter of life and death. If illegal medicines or substances enter pharmaceutical supply chains, for example, the repercussions could be devastating. (4) Fair and inclusive: Supply chains can span the globe. They have a big impact on all of us and can touch many lives in many different countries from a garment factory in Bangladesh to a luxury store on Rodeo Drive in LA. The suppliers and trading partners in a global supply chain are many and varied, so for end-to-end sustainability companies need insight into activities at all levels of a supply chain. Read on to find out how one social enterprise owner is changing world, one macaroon at a time.