Tag Archives: supply chain sustainability

Procurement with Purpose: Beyond the Bottom Line

How can you embrace the notion of procurement with purpose authentically and in ways that are consistent with your core beliefs and ideals?

Sustainability improves the bottom line, and companies can do good while doing well.

In fact, research shows that purpose-driven companies with strong performance in environmental, social, and governance outperform the market by 4.8 per cent. But this is not “new” news.

So what is different now that makes purpose more vitally important? It comes down to transparency and trust.

In many segments of life, trust is at an all-time low. The swarm of misinformation, slanted stories and editorials, and paid reviews have continued to foster these low levels of trust. This presents a unique challenge to companies.

How do companies and we as leaders embrace the notion of purpose authentically?

How do we do so in ways that are consistent with our core beliefs and ideals?

How do we “walk the walk” and not just talk the talk?

In the past, business leaders might have defined their goals as “increasing profits for shareholders and owners.” Now leading companies are beginning to recognise that this is only part of the equation. They see the bigger picture and are taking on a higher mission to make the world a better place to live and work. They are finding new ways to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. Gaining (or regaining) trust will happen through transparent action that demonstrates a commitment to creating a more purpose driven business environment.

Purchasing with Purpose

Those of us in procurement have a unique opportunity to lead the way. With increasing frequency, companies are redefining their supply chains and buying from suppliers who support, for example, people with disabilities or are female led. Companies want to know that no forced labor is being used by their suppliers, and their supplier’s suppliers, and all the way back up the value stream. Procurement is in the unique position to address these issues and have an incredible impact.

Collectively, the Global 2000 spend $12 trillion on goods and services annually. By tying their purchases to purposes, these companies can take a stand and drive ethical behavior across the supply chain. And technology exists to make this possible. The key is to get started. Business networks, for instance, provide transparency and insights into supply chains that enable companies to ensure they are acting in responsible ways.

Take SAP Ariba, the world’s largest business network. Leveraging historical and real-time purchasing data, supplier intelligence, and network insights, along with data and services from third parties like Made in a Free World, procurement can shine a light on materials, regions, and suppliers to ensure they are meeting the organisation’s standards.

Through a link between SAP Ariba Discovery, a global business matching service, and the ConnXus Database, buyers can tap a wider pool of minority, woman, LGBT and veteran-owned businesses and enable global supply chains that are more responsible, sustainable and inclusive. Extending our network even more, we’ve partnered with Nicole Verkindt, founder of OMX, to help our customers analyse the economic impact of their spend in industries such as international defense, aerospace, oil & gas, mining, automotive and construction industries.

But it doesn’t stop there. SAP Ariba is a sponsor of the UN Global Compact’s Decent Work in Global Supply Chain Action Platform. The UN developed the Action Platforms to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Action Platforms offer a systematic solution to sustainable development challenges through new fostering innovation, developing new financial models, and identifying sustainable solutions across a range of issues. As a Platform Sponsor for the Decent Work and Global Supply Chain Action Platform, SAP Ariba has deepened our commitment to driving purpose across the global supply chain.

Procurement professionals will always be responsible for doing more with less and for delivering value to our organizations. And we can do even more than that.

There’s real power in purpose. It inspires us. It moves us. It enables us to reimagine and to reinvent what is possible and to achieve great things. It is also one of the greatest challenges issued to business leaders today. Join us in taking it up. Together, we can make a difference.

Sign up for #FeeltheLove on 14th February – the first Procurious and SAP Ariba Procure with Purpose webinar .

Sustainable Procurement: Reversing The Race To The Bottom

Don’t dismiss the importance of supply chain sustainability! Learn from the mistakes of others and count yourself out of the race to the bottom! 

A short-sighted focus on cutting costs and speeding products to market is resulting in a race to the bottom that will cost companies more in the long-run. Top performers in sustainable sourcing will emerge with stronger supply chains, higher margins, more trusted brands and happier customers.

Consumers are increasingly putting their money behind sustainability, with Nielsen reporting 66 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for products from companies they perceive as sustainable. This is forcing every industry to innovate in a way that makes transparency and sustainability permeate throughout the entire supply chain. Companies are often stuck in a race to the bottom, focusing on offering the lowest possible prices to compete with retail giants like Amazon and Walmart. Manufacturers who sell through these giants are also competing with each other, facing immense pressure from their customers to have the lowest price each week. Although price may seem like the best factor to emphasize, quality and sustainability considerations are often sacrificed in favor of cutting costs and speeding time to market. Even companies that have made sustainability promises often retreat after the initial pressure wears off due to perceived higher costs, but the long-term impact of irresponsible sourcing will impact their bottom line even more in the end. In fact, a recent BCG study found that gross margins were 4.8 percent higher for companies that were top performers in sustainable sourcing compared to those who were median performers.

In the long-run, participating in the race to the bottom is bad for business as it results in cheaply made, low-quality products and services that undermine the viability of the companies they are sourced from. This will all eventually be discovered by consumers and other stakeholders, and will open companies up to varying kinds of risk, including economic and financial, reputational and quality control consequences. Because these risks can impact a company’s bottom line, it is crucial to consider how sustainability can mitigate risk before it happens.

Unfortunately, hesitation and fear around competition (antitrust) laws are deterring businesses from working together to promote sustainability. A new report from the Fairtrade Foundation found that businesses are wary of working with rivals to improve the quality and security of their supply chain, but with fluctuating trade fees and climate change they have no choice but to collaborate. Instead of competing with peers to be fastest and cheapest to market, companies should be working together to promote sustainable procurement. When companies within an industry work together, it sends a much clearer signal to suppliers about the importance of responsible practices. With the right indicators and tools, those buying organizations can help suppliers advance in maturity and improve their practices – not only in sustainably issues but across all business operations. Companies should be working with other industry players – instead of against them – to ensure efficient and effective sustainable practices.

Learn from the mistakes of others

Nike, Asics and Puma saw the consequences a lack of sustainable and ethical practices could bring when more than 500 workers in four factories were hospitalised after fainting on the job. Outsourcing factory jobs to Cambodia may have saved the company some money on labor and wages, but unethical work conditions including long days and soaring temperatures canceled out any small benefit the retailers may have seen. The reputational and operational consequences turn out much worse than the small cost reduction initially intended. Improving ventilation and adding air conditioning, although good intentions, only put a band aid on the problem – these retailers and other companies should be working together to implement ethical and sustainable procurement practices as part of a long-term solution.

Geopolitical considerations

The turbulent political and trade climate in recent months is also challenging. Companies in almost every industry in the U.K. are facing a difficult choice between joining the race to the bottom to secure post-Brexit deals in terms of purchasing cheaper products from other countries and promoting high-quality, ethical and sustainable practices. Unfortunately, lower standards mean lower quality products and services, which will not just limit the emphasis placed on tackling issues like climate change and modern slavery, but also impact business revenues in the long run. NAFTA is having a similar effect on North American companies, making the consequences of the race to the bottom a universal concern. Instead of panicking about the effects of eminent trade deals, companies should be focused on working together to pursue sustainable procurement and mitigate risk before it happens.

Fortunately, many local and global governments are encouraging businesses to get on board and combat modern slavery, environmental sustainability and other risks in the supply chain. California recently signed the “Buy Clean California” act, which will clamp down on imported carbon emissions by creating rules for the procurement of infrastructure materials purchased with state funds. The U.K. just pledged $53 million to combat modern slavery with a focus on improving the apparel supply chain, joining the U.K. Modern Slavery Act in attempting to ensure business compliance. Australia may follow suit and introduce its own laws designed to root out forced labor and compensate potential victims.

At this point, we shouldn’t be thinking of it as “sustainability for sustainability’s sake,” but sustainability for risk mitigation and improved business operations. Technology is evolving to help companies better trace suppliers and other parties and improve transparency throughout the supply chain. Regulations around the world are banning or limiting unethical practices. The movement towards sustainability has changed in the last decade, placing the burden directly on companies to ensure responsible practices – both within their own operations and those of their partners. It may seem daunting to invest in sustainability while competitors are continuing to race to the bottom in pursuit of producing the cheapest products fastest, but companies that go above the standard will find it truly improves their bottom line and creates more value throughout their supply chain.

Pierre-Francois Thaler is co-founder and co-CEO of EcoVadis, a supplier rating company that helps organisations institute corporate social responsibility (CSR) and various sustainability programs. Pierre brings 15 years of experience in procurement and developing innovative sourcing solutions. Prior to starting EcoVadis, Pierre was CEO of B2Build SA, the first B2B marketplace for the European construction industry, and also served as a director of Ariba’s Procurement BPO business.

‘Tis The Season To Waste Lots Of Food….

An estimated 1/3 of the world’s food is wasted along the supply and consumption chain from farm to kitchen. What can you do to help this Christmas?

NaturalBox/Shutterstock.com

This morning you may have discovered your milk was spoiled and tossed it in the garbage before trying to find something else to eat. Maybe you didn’t finish your whole breakfast and that went in the trash, too.

You’re not alone. An estimated 1/3 of the world’s food is wasted along the supply and consumption chain from farm to kitchen. How much does that add up to? A lot!

And with Christmas just around the corner and an estimated  £64 million’s worth of food set to be wasted in the UK alone, it’s the perfect time to start reducing some of that waste!

There are a lot of programs helping to combat food waste this Christmas. Some supermarkets have started to offer items past its best before date at a reduced rate and are providing food for those most in need. There are also a number of  steps you can take to help in your home as well.

How Much Food Do Humans Waste?

Via: InvestmentZen.com

Read more on food waste and sustainability in our articles on Earth Day and supply chain regulations.

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.

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.

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.

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.