Aiming for a more sustainable supply chain is an important piece to doing business ethically. But many companies find it’s hard to put sustainability into practice, especially in a way that doesn’t sacrifice speed, quality, or cost savings. However, the pressure from vendors, partners, consumers, and stakeholders continues to mount when it comes to pushing supply chain sustainability, and failing to act is no longer an option. Let’s look at a few steps you can take to make your supply chain more sustainable over time.
1. Create a Culture of Sustainability
Sustainability doesn’t start with processes, but rather with behaviors and perceptions. For example, technology giant HP established programs run by peers and suppliers to deliver training to large numbers of workers. The goal is to train 500,000 factory workers by 2025 to drive supply chain sustainability. Even companies like Visionect can show they're committed to a culture change by shifting to sustainable behaviors. They created an electronic paper alternative that's wireless and sustainable, plus it promotes a paperless office in a way that doesn't sacrifice the convenience of paper.
Begin your own sustainability journey by weaving it into the fibers of your company culture. Remote technology, waste reduction, and even eating in the workplace can all influence positive behavioral changes across the organization.It’s important to receive buy-in and comprehension from your staff, leaders, and supply chain vendors and partners so that it becomes a natural part of your company’s identity instead of taking the backseat on your list of priorities. Education and training can go a long way in highlighting the value of supply chain sustainability, as well as showing participants specific actions they can take to support the mission.
2. Develop a Detailed Roadmap
To build sustainability efforts, you must first understand your current reality and identify any gaps or major areas of concern that could be improved. Visibility is critical when making organizational changes, especially the widespread ones that sustainability often requires. When crafting your roadmap, you’ll want to include your company’s existing practices, materials, and processes, as well as your vendors and partners. Conduct a sustainability audit to understand the social, economic, and environmental challenges your suppliers may face so you can approach each situation with valuable, realistic solutions.
3. Collaborate with Supply Chain Partners
Unilateral change is important, but sustainability also depends on upstream cooperation. You can influence supplier behaviors that can encourage them to uphold your sustainability efforts, such as conducting audits or requiring a code of conduct. You should be prepared to offer assistance to your partners to help them meet your sustainability expectations.The United Nations Global Compact created a tool that can help you write and adopt a supplier code of conduct.
4. Track Your Successes
It’s important to understand where you’re making progress in your sustainability journey and how the changes you’ve made are affecting your overall performance. Keep track of your successes so that you can demonstrate the value of your efforts and understand where to continue investing your resources.
5. Use SDM Software for Supply Chain Visibility
Creating a digital thread throughout your supply chain with SDM™ software can give you greater clarity into existing processes and practices that will guide your sustainability choices. Companies that can zero in on DNA-level product and packaging information are better positioned to make choices that support their sustainability goals. At Specright, our Specification Data Management™ platform includes a sustainability dashboard that allows you to measure your sustainability effort progress over time so you can see where and how you’re moving the needle. Download our ebook and discover how Specright is removing some of the guesswork of building a more sustainable supply chain.