Tag Archives: supply chain sustainability

24 Series 9: India Plants 66 Million Trees

The following events occur in real time: India takes on the monumental challenge of planting 66 million trees in just 24 hours. And they didn’t even need Jack Bauer’s help…

The world reeled when, last month, President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Many regarded this as the most devastating decision of his presidency so far and he has faced critisicm for his short-termism, isolationism and rejection of science.

Todd Stern, writing for The Atlantic shortly before Trump made the announcment expressed the concern of many that “the Paris regime cannot work in the long run if the world’s indispensable power has left the table.”

“The Trump administration is about to throw down the gauntlet.” He continued. “If it does, we’ll need to take up the challenge.”

If this week’s evidence is anything to go by…the challenge is very much accepted!

There are 66 million new trees in India…

An astonishing 1.5 million volunteers pledged to “Make India Green Again” as they planted 66 million trees in less than 24 hours.

Volunteers of all ages assembled along the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh, Central India,  to plant 20 varieties of tree as part of a new Guiness World Record attempt. India holds the previous world record for planting 49.3 million trees in 24 hours last year in Uttar Pradesh. This year, they’ve gone several steps (16.7 million trees!) further and done it in just 12 hours.

India has  promised to increase forest coverage to 95 million hectares by 2030 as part of it’s role in the Paris Agreement. The Indian governement has forecasted a spend of $6.2 billion for creating new forests.

Madhya Pradesh’s government spearheaded this particualr campaign and were understandably thrilled with its success.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state chief minister for the region, tweeted after the event: “Thank people of Jabalpur for making tree plantation a huge success. You are not only saving Narmada, but also [the] planet.”

“We cannot be too selfish. We have to spare something for upcoming generations,” he continued.

Is planting with drones the future of sustainability?

Australia’s answer to deforestation is a little more technical than the enlisting of 1.5 million volunteers!

Dr. Susan Graham, an Australian engineer, is developing a drone that could eventually result in the planting of an additional 1 bilion trees per year, and there’s no time to waste! NASA predicts that if current deforestation levels proceed, the world’s rainforests may be completely in as little as 100 years.

The world has lost nearly half its forests for agriculture, development or resource extraction. An estimated 18 million acres are lost each year and deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for 17 per cent of all carbon emissions. The value of the benefits that standing forests provide is immense.

The planet loses 15 billion trees every year so “although we plant about 9 billion trees every year, that leaves a net loss of 6 billion trees,” Dr Graham said. “The rate of replanting is just too slow.”

The drones that Dr Graham is developing could not only plant at ten times the rate of hand planting and at 20 per cent of the cost; they can also access, and plant, in previously inacessible areas , such as mountainsides or steep hills.

The drone technology is currently being tested around the world so watch this space!

What are your views on sustainability and deforestation? What can, and should,  organisations be doing to help? Let us know in the comments section below. 

In other procurement news this week….

Japan & EU Trade Deal Snubs Trump

  • Japan took on the mantle of the global rules-based trading system, as it sidestepped a failing trade agreement with the United States to forge a historic new pact with the European Union
  • The trade deal that will cover nearly 30 percent of the global economy, 10 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of global trade
  • The deal would lower trade barriers for a sweeping array of products, including pork, wine, cheese and automobiles. The pact would be a heavy blow to American producers of these goods/

Read more on The Washington Post

How Will Northern Ireland’s ££ Be Spent?

  • Northern Ireland is set to receive an extra £1bn over the next two years as part of a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to keep Theresa May’s minority government in power
  • Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, said the deal would boost the economy and allow investment in new infrastructure, health and education
  • There are around 1.8m people in Northern Island and the headline deal equates to an extra £550 per head

Read more on Supply Management

Amazon’s latest venture is wine!

  • Amazon’s continuing quest to make and sell everything in the world has led to it branching out into a new area: overseeing the production of a new range of wines
  • Unusually for Amazon, this new brand isn’t aimed at undercutting the competition with bargain-basement prices, as with its Amazon Basics line
  • Amazon Wine’s Nick Loeffler added: “We’re thrilled to connect wineries, like King Estate, with millions of customers and give them an innovative format to launch new brands”

Read more on The Guardian 

Transparency: Is Your Supply-Chain Crystal Clear?

Organisations are under increasing pressure to improve on supply-chain transparency but meeting these demands is easier said than done…

Improving supply chain transparency is a high priority for companies, especially in industries such as foodservice where consumers and regulators are pushing for more publicly available information on how products are made and delivered. Increasing product complexity—growing demand for organic and gluten-free foods, for example—as well as food safety and security concerns, continues to drive the demand for more transparency.

How Can Organisations Meet These Demands?

Responding to these demands is no easy task. The fragmented nature of the supply chain can make it difficult to achieve the kind of consensus that is needed to create efficient, end-to-end monitoring systems. However, as the industry responds to the need for more transparency, there is a huge opportunity to take a leadership position. Key to developing the level of transparency that is now expected is changing the behavior of stakeholders and harnessing the power of data visualization technology to present abundant data in easily understood and actionable formats. With these changes in place the industry can open the way to innovations that could take supply chain performance to a new level. Moreover, the journey provides some valuable lessons for other industries that are striving to meet market demand for increased supply chain transparency.

Companies in the foodservice industry sell food that is prepared and served in venues outside the home (the most familiar outlet is restaurants). A complex supply chain that stretches from agricultural growers across the globe to end consumers supports each restaurant. The supply chain also includes manufacturers, freight carriers, forward warehouses, distribution centers (DCs) and third-party logistics providers (3PLs). Many of these players tend to operate in silos that can impede the end-to-end flow of information.

What Challenges Does Data Present?

Data latency represents one of the most difficult hurdles. For example, some trading partners share daily inventory and sales information in single, large batches; by the time the data is uploaded into supply chain visibility tools, it may be too old in “food time.”

The veracity of data is another challenge. There are many reasons why inaccuracies creep into supply chain data streams. An overarching problem is a lack of widely adopted, consistent standards for exchanging data. There are also various operational issues to contend with. An example is the reuse of product numbers and warehouse identifiers without alerting trading partners to such changes.

Untimely or inaccurate data is always an issue, but particularly in today’s highly variable consumer environment. Demand for food products can be unusually volatile because shifting consumer preferences influences it. Some peaks in demand—for example, when a restaurant dish suddenly becomes popular because a celebrity tweets about it—are almost impossible to anticipate.

Industry Fragmentation

The industry fragmentation described above compounds such problems. In a fragmented environment, trading partners tend to optimize locally. For example, a DC might build safety stock of a critical product for a favored restaurant chain that is not visible to other players. Unseen inventories scattered across a supply chain cause significant inefficiencies.

Add the dramatic increase in the volume of data to the mix, and it becomes clear that operational models have opportunities to improve before the industry can deliver the levels of supply chain transparency that are expected in today’s world. These changes are within reach—and many are being implemented.

Changing behaviours to tackle supply chain transparency

One of the first steps to overcoming these problems is to change the behaviors that cause data errors and latency.

For example, Armada, a Pittsburgh-based fourth-party logistics provider (4PL) to the foodservice and retail industries, is working with DCs and other entities to make sure that the inventory and shipment data they provide is as near to real-time as possible. Huge improvements are possible by simply rethinking the way data is managed and shared, and by breaking down operational silos.

Changing stakeholder behavior lays the foundation for the new technology that drives greater supply chain transparency. At Armada, this emerging technological base has two key elements.

First, an integrated platform allows the company to receive data in multiple formats such as EDI. Second, Armada is working to fundamentally change the way this data is stored and accessed for clients and their network stakeholders. For example, the practice of generating reports from data stored on applications is no longer sufficient. Data warehousing and extraction as well as business intelligence capabilities are being built to support the high-volume information management systems that are now needed.

This is not cutting edge—but harnessing these capabilities to develop tailored visual displays of complex data represents new territory for foodservice supply chain practitioners.

Why traditional methods won’t do

Traditional methods of displaying and analyzing operational data through columns and rows aren’t enough if the goal is to redefine supply chain transparency. In addition, practitioners need faster, more effective ways to consume and use the large volumes of data now available. And it is likely that the flood of data will increase over the next few years.

Importantly, much of this data needs to be configured for mobile technology platforms that are growing in importance. An example of an innovative display format is an “items at risk” dashboard that shows when items in specific DCs are reaching stock-out levels based on lead times.

These are exciting innovations, and the industry is only at the beginning of this journey. For instance, there is huge potential for developing more advanced analytics. The ultimate analytical goal is to develop systems that automatically identify potential problems and trigger remedial action.

Consider, for example, a case where the “items at risk” screen shows that an item is nearing an out-of-stock situation. The system automatically initiates a transfer order from a DC that it identified as a source of additional stock. The DC is notified, and the order approved without having to engage unwieldy manual procedures. Moreover, the system issues alerts and updates to designated managers via their mobile devices.

This article was originally published on Supply Chain MIT  via the ThomasNet Blog

Duty of Care Law: You Got The Green Light In France!

France’s new legislation, The Duty Of Care Law will prevent serious human rights risks and threats to fundamental freedoms. Will other countries follow suit? 

It would be wise for procurement professionals to pay close attention to France’s new sustainable procurement legislation.   The Duty of Care law, which affects organisations with over 5,000 employees, is likely to have some influence on other nations,  starting with those in the EU.

If similar human rights legislation is implemented across the globe; forewarned is forearmed, and sustainable, ethical procurement is a hot topic that’s only getting hotter!

Whilst the progress of global sustainability standards have traditionally been  pushed by individual businesses and activist groups, things are changing. This month saw the publication of ISO20400,  (International Standard for Sustainable Procurement), which creates a standard for every organisation in the world to follow.

The Duty of Care Law

In its much-awaited decision last month, the French constitutional council has given a  green light to the “Duty of Care” law (Devoir de Vigilance) although they stated that there remain some provisions to the French constitution.

The major points of the law, requiring French companies with at least 5 000 employees, including in their French direct or indirect subsidiaries (or 10 000 employees in their direct or indirect subsidiaries worldwide) to develop a diligence plan (“plan de vigilance”), are recognised of general interest. The intent is for the diligence plans to prevent serious risks related to human rights and fundamental freedoms, health and safety of persons and the environment. The constitutional council considers however that the sanctions initially included in the law violate the constitutional principle that penalties must have a sound legal basis. As a result, the civil fine of up to €10 million, as well as its increase to €30 million in case of damages that could have been prevented by implementing the diligence plan, are removed from the law.

Developing A Diligence Plan

The obligation of implementing a diligence plan however, as well as the formal notice and the civil liability mechanisms in case of lack or deficiency of the diligence plan, are constitutional. Consequently, companies are still compelled to implement a diligence plan, even if the law loses some of its deterrent effect, which makes for the first law of this type: it introduces an obligation much more stringent than a mere reporting obligation, such as the ones required by the UK Modern Slavery Act or the California Transparency Act. Companies are required to implement specific concrete actions and cannot limit themselves to reporting on what they do (or do not do).

There are also some talks of developing similar regulations at European Union level.  Eight national parliaments have called for a corporate duty of care towards the human rights and local environment impacted by the company’s operations. They have jointly proposed that the European Commission take action on this matter. This shows that the French “Duty of care” law is indeed the first step of a generalized global movement requiring companies to address their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) risks, including throughout their supply chain.

This article was first published on the EcoVadis Blog

Save The Planet With Garbage-Powered Trucks And Edible Water Bottles

Earth Day is about more than switching off the overhead lights – it’s about making purchasing decisions that will minimise our impact on the environment. From eerily-silent zero-emission trucks to seaweed-membrane edible water bottles, these are just some of the products that should be on the radar of every innovation scout.  

Modernise your fleet with hydrogen-fuelled, electric or biomethane trucks

Although the petroleum industry is grudgingly beginning to recognise that an increasing number of car drivers will hang up the fuel bowser (gas pump) for the last time within the next decade, there’s still a sticking-point when it comes to heavy vehicles.

“Sure, you can move a car with an electric battery, but an 18-wheeler truck is always going to need diesel.”

Wrong. Alternatives are already available for zero or low-emission trucks that match, or even beat, the performance of a diesel-fuelled truck.

Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-celled semitrailers

The Ports of Los Angles and Long Beach took delivery of a zero-emission, 670 horsepower 18-wheeler earlier this month. The hydrogen-fuelled truck is completely silent and emits only water from its tailpipe.

The twin ports are a major source of pollution in the region, due in part to an estimated 19,000 cargo containers moving through daily, carrying $450 billion worth of goods annually. If the test is successful, thousands of conventional trucks could potentially be replaced by hydrogen-fuelled trucks.

Toyota is yet to announce a price for the truck but have predicted it will be competitive with new, diesel-powered trucks when it hits the market. Mileage looks good, with a range of 200 miles on one 20-minute charge. The fuel-cell stacks can be fed water, natural gas or a variety of waste products, with one Toyota spokesperson telling the press that abundant hydrogen can be reclaimed from landfill waste.

Tesla’s all-electric semi-trailer

Mystery surrounds Tesla’s much-anticipated electric semi-trailer, with most reports centred around a tweet from Elon Musk announcing that the truck will be unveiled in September 2017, and that it is “seriously next-level”.

Musk has also confirmed that the semi-trailer will be followed by a ute (pick-up truck) within 18-24 months, and has suggested that Tesla should also enter the bus and heavy-duty truck markets.

The company has yet to share details about how large the battery itself would be or how the truck would overcome range limitations, but commentators from Morgan Stanley have predicted that the truck would be “relatively short-range” (200-300 miles), and use Tesla’s charging stations to quickly swap the batteries for charged ones (a 5-minute process) and get the vehicles back on the road.

Waitrose’s rotten food-powered trucks

Waitrose has partnered with bio-fuel company CNG Fuels to place an order for 10 flatbed trucks that will be powered entirely by rotten food, sourced from unsold food at supermarkets across the UK.

This investment ticks two boxes for Waitrose’s sustainability targets – lowering carbon dioxide emissions, while addressing food waste. Globally, an estimated one-third of all food, or 1.3 billion metric tons of produce – goes to waste every year. The new biomethane trucks have an average range of nearly 500 miles, with the biofuel to cost 40% less than diesel fuel. The biomethane emits 70% less carbon dioxide than diesel.

The next challenge? Lifting a commercial airliner off the ground with rotting vegetables. It may seem unthinkable today, but so was the technology that’s now enabling zero-emission semi-trailers.

Procuring for an event? Try edible water bottles

With an estimated 100 million plastic water bottles being trashed globally every single day, there will soon be more plastic than fish in the ocean. That’s why it’s vital that a solution is found to stem the (literal) tide of plastic.

A start-up called Skipping Rocks Lab has created a product that won’t completely replace plastic bottles, but could potentially make a big dent in their consumption.

“Ooho!” edible water spheres are created by dipping frozen balls of liquid into an algae mixture (seaweed), forming a watertight membrane around the water, which then melts inside. To consume the liquid you simply bite into the membrane (apparently tasteless) and sip it out, or just eat the entire ball.

The spheres generate 5x less carbon dioxide and require 9x less energy to make than a conventional PET (plastic) water bottle. But here’s the catch – they’re perishable. The product has been compared to fruit, with a shelf-life of just a few days. Try keeping one of these in your pantry for a week and you’ll find that it has dissolved into a puddle. However, Ooho would be perfect for events where bottles are bought in bulk and distributed to enormous groups of people, only to be trashed in huge numbers during or immediately after the event – think music festivals, marathons and conferences.

In other news this week:

New study finds that Brexit fears are impacting growth for 80% of UK businesses

  • eProcurement provider Wax Digital has surveyed 200 UK business on the impact of Brexit, finding that 4 out 5 business fear it will hinder their growth. 79% also stated their growth is being hindered by suppliers being unprepared for growth amidst Brexit.
  • 37% said that Brexit will restrict their ability to do business in Europe and 35% said that it will make EU business more costly and complex. 26% expect to reduce their business operations on the continent and 24% will look at alternative international opportunities. Interestingly, 65% of surveyed UK business leaders voted “remain” and would still do so today.
  • The survey also explored perceptions of the Trump Presidency, with 82% saying that a ‘business mogul’ type figure in the White House is positive, and 40% expecting Trump to improve UK to US business opportunities.

How Sustainability Can Help Procurement Avoid Black Swans

Swans, procurement and sustainability – what’s the link? It’s all to do with procurement taking account for its impact on the wider world.

Seven Swans Swimming

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…seven swans-a-swimming.”

Black swans are always unexpected, and defy explanation. Seeing two black swans together is highly unlikely. However, seeing seven together all at once? Well, you better hope that you don’t.

Of course, I’m not talking about the bird that you might see in your local park. The Black Swan I’m thinking of is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb for an event that is both surprising, and has a major impact.

So, if we can’t predict when these events will happen, how can we stop them? This is where sustainability, social value, and procurement come in.

Thinking the Unthinkable

Earlier this year, Nik Gowing spoke extensively about the concept of ‘Thinking the Unthinkable‘ at the Big Ideas Summit. The idea behind this was that current leaders weren’t able to deal with cataclysmic events – either through a lack of skills, or outright denial.

Little did Nik know that when he used President Trump as an example of an unpredictable event, he was actually predicting the future! Nor could he have known that 2016 could provide even greater volatility than 2014, the year Nik and his co-author looked at for these so-called Black Swans.

It’s easy to argue that, without the right skills, these events are impossible to handle. If you then add in the fact that we can’t predict them, even with all the technology available to us, then what can we do?

Swimming with the Swans

Given that Black Swan events can be just about anything, procurement needs to look at its impact on everything to do its bit. And one way to do this, is to be conscious of its impact on the wider society.

Sustainability and sustainable procurement are concepts that are getting increasing focus in the global profession. Organisations have begun to realise that sustainability can build supply chain competitive advantage. Employee engagement is key, but the vast majority of people want to engage if it means a brighter future.

The environment is certainly a major consideration in potential future Black Swan events. And, from management of resources, to responsibility for global supply chains, procurement will play a major role.

Procurement Gets Social

Of course, sustainability is just one aspect of procurement’s future. The profession is taking increasing interest in social value, and working with social enterprises.

And why should procurement be working with these organisations? Well, they give back to the community, and have a positive impact on the community, and the environment. There are also social organisations working hard to ensure that people have proper access to good, healthy food.

And those of us looking to get more meaning in our procurement careers could do worse than looking to work with social enterprises. Career Coach Charlie Wigglesworth, Director of Business and Enterprise, Social Enterprise UK, discussed this at length earlier in the year.

If your conscience has been pricked, then there is plenty you can do to help. If we pull together as a profession, then we can ensure procurement is better equipped to deal with unexpected events.

Or, you never know, we might even be able to stop them happening in the first place. Then the only swans we need to think about would be the ones we see at the local pond. And that would be good for the future, wouldn’t it?

Negotiation – it’s just one of the key skills procurement professionals need to drive value. But do you go for milking your supplier? Or getting something from the wider herd? Get the lowdown on Day 8.

Buying a better future – Procurement’s sustainability leaders recognised

Once seen as a ‘niche’ part of the profession, sustainable purchasing is fast moving into the mainstream. The misbelief that sustainable solutions cost more is quickly giving way as businesses recognise that competitive advantage lies in developing innovative, sustainable supply chains.

Sustainable purchasing

Evidence of this came this week with the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) recognising 12 organisations and one individual who are using their purchasing power to advance the long term health and vitality of society, economies, and the planet.

Winners were recognised across a range of sustainable purchasing initiatives, including cooperative buying contracts for green cleaning products, a week-long zero waste initiative at the Phoenix PGA Open and supplier incubator programs designed at improving environmental performance.

Background on some of the award winners includes:

Leadership Award for Overall Sustainable Purchasing Program (SPLC’s highest honour), presented to The District of Columbia for having put in place a comprehensive sustainable purchasing program that exemplifies the qualities defined in SPLC’s Principles for Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing. DC conducted extensive market research and stakeholder engagement to develop sustainable purchasing guidance and specifications for more than 100 priority products. Hundreds of employees have been trained on the guidance, which DC shares publicly.

Leadership Award for a Special Sustainable Purchasing Initiative, presented to The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Responsible Purchasing Network for leading the establishment of a cooperative contract through which agencies in multiple states can now buy independently certified green cleaning products at favourable pricing and with specialised training and outreach.

Leadership Award for Public Interest Advocacy, presented jointly to International Campaign for Responsible Technology and the GoodElectronics Network for organizing the “The Challenge to the Global Electronics Industry”, which has been endorsed by more than 200 organizations and individuals in 40 countries. The Challenge calls on the global electronics industry to respect human rights, workers’ rights, and community rights, including the right to a safe and healthy workplace, and to healthy communities and a safe environment.

This award was also presented to the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance for bringing together a coalition of businesses purchasing minerals and metals, mining companies, NGOs, affected communities, and trade unions in order to promote a world where the mining industry respects the human rights and aspirations of neighbouring communities, provides safe, healthy and supportive workplaces, minimises harm to the environment, and leaves positive legacies. Through the many years of collaboration, IRMA has developed the Standard for Responsible Mining, which is currently being piloted.

Leadership Award for Purchasing Innovation
Two organisations were recognised for leveraging sustainability to find and promote innovation: King County (Seattle, WA) for purchasing battery-electric busses for its Metro Transit fleet and documenting significant cost savings and environmental benefits associated with this new technology; and Philips Corporation for innovative procurements that have enabled the company to achieve carbon neutrality in its North American operations while saving money. The Philips’ Procurement and Sustainability groups have collaborated on energy efficiency, onsite renewables, renewable energy certificates, and long-term Power Purchase Agreements for wind power.

Sam Hummel, Director of Outreach and Operations for SPLC, says that the breadth of award categories demonstrates that sustainable procurement is about more than just buying green. “We are talking about human rights, ethical conduct and supplier diversity”, says Hummel. “Sustainable procurement is a holistic approach.”

In other news:

China mandates renewable energy procurement across 11 provinces

  • China’s National Development and Reform Commission has forced grid companies to buy enough renewable power to enable wind farms to operate at least 1800 hours per year, and solar farms to be utilised at least 1300 hours per year.
  • The mandatory procurement is applicable across 11 provinces, including Xianjing and Gansu.
  • Solar capability in China has increased seven-fold and wind has almost doubled since 2012, with China aiming to generate 15% of its power from renewable and nuclear energy by 2020.

Read more at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-01/china-s-order-for-green-power-purchases-lifts-wind-solar-shares

World’s longest – and deepest – rail tunnel opens in Switzerland promising to transform Supply & Logistics in the region

  • The Gotthard rail link has taken 20 years to build, cost more than $12bn (£8.2bn), and is tipped to revolutionise Europe’s freight transport.
  • At 57.1km in length, 4,00,000 cubic metres of concrete were used to create the tunnel, employing 2600 people.
  • Its maximum freight amount is 377,000 tonnes per day, the equivalent of 15,080 shipping containers.

Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36416506

Human Rights Watch calls for binding global convention on supply chains

  • HRW has released a report calling for governments to effectively regulate business activity to protect human rights in supply chains.
  • The report highlights abuses including child labour, labour rights, environmental damage, and lack of safety.
  • Juliane Kippenberg, Children’s Rights Director at HRW, said. “It’s clear that a binding standard on human rights in supply chains globally is needed to ensure that businesses live up to their human rights responsibilities.”

Read more: http://www.cips.org/en/supply-management/news/2016/may/binding-international-convention-is-required-to-protect-human-rights-in-supply-chains/

Autonomous taxi startup nuTonomy raises $16 million in funding to compete with Uber

  • Autonomous taxi startup nuTonomy hopes to bring self-driving taxis to the road by 2018.
  • The company counts the government of Singapore as one of its main partners. It runs a fleet of R&D vehicles in Singapore and is the first private company approved to test on public roads.
  • The startup is promising to develop the whole suite for driverless taxis, from autonomous navigation software (nuCore), fleet routing and management, remote vehicle teleoperation, and smartphone-based ride requesting.
  • The firm uses retrofitted Mitsubishi iMiev electric cars and is expected to add Renault Zoe EVs in its autonomous cab service later this year.

Read more: http://futurism.com/a-new-uber-competitor-just-raised-16-million-in-funding-for-complete-autonomous-taxis/

Supply Chain Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage

Industry leaders understand that supply chain sustainability can be a competitive advantage. Utilised effectively, it brings a wealth of opportunities.

Sustainability Competitive Advantage

Read the first part of this article here.

Global brewing giant SABMiller embraces the idea that water is strategic. It cut its water consumption by 28 per cent, now only using 3.3 litres to make 1 litre of beer. It is on track to achieve its objective of 3 litres by 2020. Iconic sports brand Nike has adopted 3D printing to eliminate waste.

Companies not focusing their supply chain efforts on differentiation are at risk of falling behind. Innovation can also involve changing consumer behaviour. Here again, collaboration is key between different functions, from R&D to marketing and procurement and supply chain.

One of the three pillars of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan is to halve the environmental footprint of their products by 2020. They have developed a purpose-driven strategy to double their revenues, while still having a positive social impact. Their business model has put supply chain sustainability at the heart of strategy, and they use innovation to embrace it.

Cost of Sustainability

A common misbelief is that sustainable solutions cost more. In most cases, they are more profitable, with a faster return on investment. Business and sustainability go hand in hand, and better solutions have emerged, both for businesses and the planet.

True, there are more expensive examples. Traceable palm oil, which ensures zero deforestation during production, is one of these. However, renewable energy solutions, such as windmills and solar panels, can be profitable immediately.

Many companies also put a lot of effort in reducing transportation, with the objective to decrease gas emissions, as well as the transportation cost itself. From a labour perspective, the overall cost could be diminished by improving productivity and respecting minimum wage.

When companies take the long-term approach that sustainability requires,
 initiatives can be cost neutral or 
better. Some companies have increased their revenue by as much as 20 per cent, while reducing supply chain costs by up to 16 per cent. According to the World Economic Forum report written with Accenture, this has been done by implementing sustainable supply chain practices.

Best practices have been identified to support companies achieve a “triple supply chain competitive advantage” of increased revenue, reduction in supply chain cost and added brand value. The result is improved competitiveness and reduced operational risk.

Employee Engagement Key to Sustainable Success

46 per cent of CEOs reported that employees would be among the most influential groups in guiding their action on sustainability over the next five years – second only to consumers.

When it comes to employee engagement, it is important to communicate internally to all levels of the organisation. Best practice should come from within, and companies should ensure that their external actions on sustainability are also reflected internally.

Taking care of the workforce, engaging them in implementing a corporate commitment to sustainability, will drive greater productivity, and thus greater profitability.

Giving employees a purpose and empowering them to have ideas and find solutions at a local level could make a real difference in supply chain sustainability. It is more challenging to have sustainable operations in some global regions than in others. Leading supply chain executives encourage their teams to go beyond their own boundaries, inspiring, guiding and supporting them.

Companies who are leveraging supply chain sustainability as a competitive advantage are outperforming their less sustainable peers. Many studies show that these sustainability leaders have higher, faster-growing stock value, better financial results, lower risks, and more engaged workforces.

Aligning employees’ engagement with supply chain sustainability strategy is key to building an innovative, environmentally responsible, and socially conscious business. Workers on the front line are often in the best position to identify inefficiencies and propose solutions.

The best companies integrate their sustainability strategies into their employees’ day jobs. This is done by incorporating sustainability targets into the employee’s annual objectives, and incentivising them.

Shared Responsibility

Sustainability is the responsibility of everybody, but especially those involved in the supply chain who are in a position to act.

Communication and training are important factors in generating awareness across the workforce. To attract talent, particularly millennials and future generations, companies behind on the subject will lose in this battle too.

Many multinational organisations have set sustainability targets to be reached by 2020. Winning companies will master the balance between commercial gains and “it is simply the right thing to do”. They will embrace internal and external collaboration and will drive supplier and consumer behaviour.

In a world where social conscience is fed by social media, and fear of the speed and scale at which information can disseminate globally, it is crucial to behave responsibly. Those organisations which do not act now on supply chain sustainability face the risk of long term brand and reputational damage.

Fast Fashion – But at What Price?

Is the concept of ethical fast fashion an oxymoron? Do we as consumers have a good enough grasp of the ethical considerations?

Fast Fashion

Today’s typical fashionista has high expectations. She, or maybe he, wants to buy cheap and affordable trendy clothes in the latest styles straight off the catwalk.

Never mind that an item is unlikely to last more than ten washes. Fast fashion is getting faster and cheaper, but what is the real cost to society and the environment? We may have an uneasy feeling about the issues, but generally have a poor grasp of ethics.

How important is this industry?  

The direct value of the UK fashion industry to the economy is around £26 billion and growing fast. Average spending on fashion in Europe is about €700 (>£500) per person per year. Italy, Germany and the UK are Europe’s largest fashion markets in terms of consumption.

Fashion’s total economic contribution is much more if we include activities in indirect and related industries. We may be feeding the economy with our purchases, but we are also harming the environment. Shipping, transportation and logistics are energy demanding, time consuming, and pollution-spewing.

The formula for success in this industry was always to give the customers what they wanted: trendy garments at the right price, of acceptable quality, in the right place, and with a dash of speed. In the last five years there has been a concerted effort by some retailers to become more ethical buyers, employing better human resources policies and safety practices.

Ethics in Fast Fashion

Do procurement teams harbour concerns about sweat shops or care about child labour or manage waste disposal? Or is it more important to buy cheap to satisfy the consumer who just wants to pay £3 for a T-shirt?

Paul Brownhill, Group Chief Executive at Britannia Garment Packaging, says that although the majority of consumers want quick access to the latest trends at an affordable price, they are now also seeking assurances about the way these items are produced. He notes that consumers are increasingly concerned about the quality, safety and environmental impact of the clothes they buy. Is this really true?

The University of British Columbia recently researched this issue and came to the conclusion that, theoretically, young consumers place an importance on sustainability but have a blind spot when it comes to fashion.

“They may care deeply about eating organic foods, but fast fashion consumption is exempt from such moral decisions. This approach can in part be explained by the fact that youthful consumers may fail to fully grasp issues of sustainability, in particular the disastrous future environmental risks associated with unsustainable production.”

Other similar studies demonstrate little evidence that ethical issues have any effect on consumers’ fashion choices or that they are likely to sacrifice their own personal needs for the greater good.

Some Bright Spots

Leading retailers like H&M, Gap and Zara have all signed a pledge to improve factory conditions. H&M, whose tag line is ‘Fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way’, was recently named one of the world’s most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute.

One of its claims to fame is that it is the number one user of organic cotton in the world. H&M, with 3,900 stores in 61 markets, is also one of the first and largest fashion companies in the world to make its supplier factory list public.

Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, (LVMH) a corporation comprising over sixty luxury brands, has been auditing its carbon footprint since 2004. Tiffany & Co. produces a Corporate Responsibility Report, which touts their support of human rights, anti-corruption practices, and commitment to responsible mining. This is all very commendable if it is more than just words on the page.

Fast Fashion and the Ecosystem

For those that do care about the future of our children and damage to the environment, there are a couple of other options. Buyers can check questionable supply sources, read every label, and buy only locally produced items, but this may come at a cost.

What about sourcing second-hand or hardly used items? Re-purposing items creates a positive ethical and environmental impact and can be both cost-effective and trend-setting – it even has possibilities in the commercial environment.

Landfills are full of synthetic material. Cheap clothing goes out of fashion and people end up with a lot of unwanted items. UK consumers ditch more than a million tons of clothing every year.

In poorer countries the problem is less noticeable; items get handed down and re-circulated until they totally disintegrate. In developed countries, they may end up in the rubbish bin.

What can we do to help?

  • We could support ethically sourced products from brands that have committed to best practice
  • We could create more awareness among commercial buyers about poor labour practices and sustainability
  • We could buy fewer higher quality garments to reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion.

The campaigning organisation Labour Behind the Label provides information on what brands need to do to up their game and move closer to employing ethical sourcing practices.

Suppliers are anxiously trying to satisfy the market’s needs for speed and price, at what cost? Is ethical fast fashion” an oxymoron?

Reap the Benefits of a Structured Approach to Responsible Procurement

You are about to set out on the journey to make Responsible Procurement more integrated into your procurement processes.

Responsible Procurement

To reap the benefits – and win recognition – you will have to be well prepared, implement the right tools and processes, and communicate every achievement. But where to start? In this article, I share some things you should consider.

Define your commitment

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a major item on a CEO’s agenda. No annual report is complete without making reference to CSR performance, including the performance of an organisation’s suppliers. CSR is set to be the most influential mega-trend affecting the procurement function by 2020.

Many companies have worked towards Responsible Procurement for a while through a Code of Conduct. A Procurement Leaders CSR Survey in 2012 highlighted the following reasons for pursuing a Responsible Procurement approach:

  • Reduce reputational risk: 71 per cent
  • Moral obligation: 49 per cent
  • Create business opportunities: 36 per cent
  • Legal obligation: 34 per cent
  • Respond to consumer demand: 34 per cent
  • Satisfy investors: 23 per cent
  • Reduce cost: 18 per cent
  • Satisfy the management: 8 per cent
  • Repair reputational damage: 3 per cent
  • Other: 7 per cent

However, in order to reach new heights with your approach to Responsible Procurement, it is time to become more specific. You need to be able to communicate your commitment. This includes your approach to Responsible Procurement, as well as all the achievement targets that you have set out.

Focus on What is Relevant to You

I know of a lot of companies who have copied what everybody else is doing, only to then realise that the massive amount of data that they had collected was a massive waste of time – for both the company and the suppliers – as they had no system or processes in place to handle it, or react to it.

End-users and consumers are demanding. They read your website before they buy from you, and they’ll likely do the same before applying for a job in your company. The mistake many companies make is continuing to focus on everything – environmental, social and economic aspects. Are they all relevant to your business?

Start by asking some of the following questions:

  • You want to take your approach to new heights. Which heights?
  • What is it exactly that you would like to achieve with your Responsible Procurement approach?
  • Where would you like to be in 3, 5 or 7 years time?

You could also:

Conduct a workshop – Gather your most important stakeholders and try to find out how you will combine your company’s CSR, Procurement and Business strategies in one vision. Make sure outcomes are measurable and actionable. Use your own words and your company’s DNA, and don’t be afraid to prioritise. A brand needs a stand. What is your stand?

Gather a fact pack – Understand your company’s drivers, which industry sector standards your company needs to comply with, and what ‘footprints’ you and your suppliers are leaving behind. Most importantly, do some benchmarking.

What kind of approach do your competitors have to Responsible Procurement Management? How does it fit into your current supplier base? I often see that companies forget to look at the supplier base and try to apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach. For example, if you are a bank you don’t want to answer questions on animal welfare.

Develop a strategy  In order to create a strategy, it is important to define your expectations towards your suppliers and procurement professionals. Turn it around and look at what expectations they could have of you as a company. How will you communicate your approach? How will you measure on your progress? What kind of training will you conduct (if any)? Which kind of processes and tools will have to be “reworked”?

Develop a Code of Practice – Right now you might have a Code of Conduct. A ‘Code of Practice’ is a document which not only indicates what your commitment is, but also a document where you indicate what you want suppliers to do in order to meet your requirements.

You need to be much more specific, because that is what consumers expect you to be. And understand that this will show on the bottom line, because the more you share your ‘best practice’ with your suppliers, the more return on investment you will see.

One Last Piece of Advice

Do not underestimate the change management part of implementing a Responsible Procurement approach. Make sure that the top management, not only from your company, but also from your procurement organisation, is involved. You are starting out on a journey which will change your company over time.

The True Cost…Of Everything

Do you know what the true cost of your supply chain is? In an age of ethics and transparency, ignorance and apathy are no longer acceptable, says Lucy Siegle.

Lucy Siegle - True Cost

When it was first released, viewers of the True Cost movie, the award-winning feature length documentary, were shocked and appalled as they learned the true cost of fast fashion.

The human rights and sustainability issues were all there for us to see.

The true cost of most of our supply chains are not fully known and this is a quest for most procurement pros. That’s why we’ve invited Lucy Siegle, broadcaster, writer, journalist, and trail blazer in sustainability and ethical living, to inspire and instruct us on how to be better.

Lucy is at the forefront of the fight for a sustainable approach to supply chains, that protects the planet and its people.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, Lucy Siegle will challenge CPOs and experts on how they view their supply chains. She’ll be asking what can be done differently to prioritise sustainability. She says:

I love big ideas – who doesn’t?! But I also like small ideas, incremental steps and ideas that are yet to be fully formed. So what I’m always interested in hearing and alert to is how we can get ideas of all shapes and sizes implemented. And how we can build momentum behind change.

It’s no secret that we face a number of big issues in supply chains from resource scarcity and contraction to degraded human rights (and in some cases slavery) in supply chains. What are the mechanisms for shifting the dial on these issues, and putting these big ideas into motion?

What got you involved/interested in sustainability in the first place?

I guess the idea that you can change negative outcomes. I first heard about women like Vandana Shiva in the 1970s – the original tree huggers if you like. These women protected old growth forests in Northern India, not just by placing themselves between the tree and the logger, but by strategically educating and empowering local people to take a stand.

I was also lucky as a kid that a curriculum experiment in the 1980s meant that I got to take Environmental Science as a subject from the age of 12. I was hooked! Sustainability is the science of resource use, ecology and environmental science mixed with psychology and creative marketing. That’s a heady combination to me!

You spoke recently about the ‘forgotten people’ in the fashion supply chain. Why do you think consumers have lost sight of the origins of their clothing?

Because very simply fashion has become a vehicle for turbo-charged capitalism and globalisation. The problem probably began as soon as the Spinning Jenny (invented in the UK) gave us a fast way of spinning cotton. But the real speed has picked up in the last 10-15 year as fashion’s become the ultimate free market poster industry.

Fast fashion (as we call the phenomenon of high volume, low cost, outsourced production) isn’t just a fashion option, it’s a domineering, all conquering, pervasive model. It wipes out all other production methods (goodbye mid-market, slow fashion), ensures that consumers become addicted to buying cheap and in bulk, forsaking all other previous standards (such as quality, wearability, longevity) and dictates trend, price and lifespan.

The consumer becomes overwhelmed and brainwashed by price, speed and brand. Nothing else matters, least of all the ethics of who made the piece and in what circumstances. Fashion is now made and marketed by big brands as if it’s disposable, and who bothers to invest in the backstory of disposable products?

The True Cost movie highlighted some truly shocking practices in fashion supply chains. What can we, as procurement professionals, do to change this?

Well there’s a lot that can be done. Firstly there’s the reputational lever. The True Cost as a movie exists because the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over a thousand garment workers.

The director of that movie, Andrew Morgan, was so moved to see TV footage of two small boys searching in the rubble for their garment worker mother that he investigated how this could possibly happen. He had no interest in fashion. So highlighting these supply chain truths is very important.

The risk of reputational damage can really lead to a lot of change. Increasingly we’re also seeing anti-slavery legislation (from Dodd Frank to our own UK anti-slavery bill). There’s a perception that this just means corporations will employ a load of lawyers to get around these rules and regulations. Perhaps the short sighted corporations will, but excellent supply chain professionals have the opportunity to show how these regulations should be used to effect positive change and link compliance to improvement.

I also think there’s huge scope to ally the human with the environmental. We shouldn’t just ever think green, but think holistically ethical – environmental and social justice. That’s the only way to plan for the longterm.

I’m also big into collaborations. I’ve seen some really strange collaborations – including between Greenpeace and fishermen, which I would never have seen coming. In fact they used to be sworn enemies. But these collaborations have ended up being hugely successful in ethical terms. Some of those should be with lawyers.

It’s also worth looking at legal remedies too. We’ve noticed (or rather our lawyers have noticed!) that ironically some of the speed and devil-may-care approach to production in ‘host’ low wage economies are in direct violation of WTO rules.

Have you come across any good examples of good procurement/supply chain practices in the fashion supply chain that we can learn from?

Lots of individual supply chains have great merit. So there are some on leather (an incredibly intensive, impactful commodity – and no, it’s not a harmless byproduct!) that I’ve investigated where climate scientists have worked directly with rancheros in the Amazon and then designers in Italy to create zero deforestation accessories for Gucci.

Or I’ve also investigated a progressive jeans company that’s one of few fashion companies to pay its sewers a living wage. I’ve also worked a lot on brands like Patagonia that explores aggressive transparency and some pretty counter intuitive advertising to get the message across.

And what about the surf-wear brand I came across that spent years working with a  farmer to breed a particular type of endangered sheep?! I’ve come across many examples, from the seriously certified trail-blazers to the certifiable! But what’s difficult is of course scale and outreach.

Lucy Siegle will cover these topics, and more, during her keynote address at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.