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Sustainability in the Supply Chain
In the age of zero waste, it is more crucial than ever that companies focus on sustainability in order to retain current customers...
Sustainability in the Supply Chain
In the age of zero waste, it is more crucial than ever that companies focus on sustainability in order to retain current customers...
May 22, 2019
n the age of zero waste, it is more crucial than ever that companies focus on sustainability in order to retain current customers and attract new ones. Unfortunately, cutting out plastic straws and recycling in the office are no longer going to meet customer expectations. Customers are now expecting a company’s entire supply chain, not only to be eco-friendly, but to explain exactly how they are sustainable as well.

What is sustainable supply chain management?
Sustainable supply chain management is when a company looks at their entire supply chain, from raw materials and suppliers to packaging and transportation and even disposal, and evaluates each of the companies they do business with. Not only are companies looking at the environmental impact of their supply chain, but also the social and economic impact and viability of their vendors and customers.

Companies are looking to partner with suppliers and vendors who can prove the sustainability within their supply chain and ensure their partners’ businesses are not negatively impacting the environment, depleting natural resources, or contributing to climate change or social inequalities. In general, the way of the future is ensuring every step in your supply chain is simply done “the right way"1.

How to get there?

1. Map Your Supply Chain
Take a full assessment of your product’s or service’s life cycle. This includes everything from the raw materials, to movement through the supply chain, to disposal1. It is crucial that you understand each supplier and the most significant environmental and social challenges they have.

2. Develop a Plan and Communicate
Include goals and objectives you want to meet and actionable steps that will move your company to meet them. Additionally, develop a policy for your suppliers and customers. Decide which indicators of sustainable operations you will utilize including anything from environmental impact, waste disposal, and energy use, to employee and community social factors1. After you’ve developed a stable plan, communicate your expectations, corporate values, and culture to your supply chain.

3. Begin Analyzing Performance
Evaluate your supply chain against the policies and plans you have developed. Benchmark your suppliers by collecting data through questionnaires or self-assessments to give you a starting point. Figure out how your current suppliers and businesses within your supply chain stack up to your plans and goals1.

4. Draw the Line
Now it is time to draw the line and figure out where to take appropriate action within your supply chain. It is important to keep open lines of communication with the players in your supply chain, but make players aware of your end goals. Continue to monitor and benchmark your supply chain as time goes by and if needed, make some crucial changes1.

Why is it important?
Sustainability in the supply chain is important for a number of reasons that span beyond simple compliance with environmental regulations1. By evaluating their supply chain, companies have been able to really monitor supplier performance and improvement over time. Additionally they’ve been able to pinpoint where sustainability improvements can be made, integrate sustainability criteria into the procurement process, expand their sustainability goals beyond their direct operations across their supply chain, encourage innovation, and even leverage their buying power and influence to drive a more sustainable future for all of us2. When shifting to a sustainable supply chain, the biggest risk involved may be failure to do anything at all.

1 - https://www.rmagreen.com/rma-blog/what-is-sustainable-supply-chain-management
2 - https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/01/24/6-steps-more-sustainable-supply-chain
Bri Wagner
Marketing Analyst ~ ConnectShip
Bri Wagner graduated from the University of Tulsa in May of 2018 with degrees in marketing and business law. She accepted a marketing internship with ConnectShip during her last year of undergrad before accepting a full time position as a Marketing Segment Analyst after graduation. Bri is instrumental in the department's market research, social media, and content production, amongst other things.