4 lessons from the Responsible Supply Chain Summit

How can businesses deliver environmental, social and business impacts through their supply chain? It’s one of the key questions businesses are asking themselves – and one that was the focus of the recent Responsible Supply Chain Summit Europe 2018.

The two-day event, held in London, explored solutions to some of the biggest supply chain challenges that companies face today. Here are four highlights from the event:

1) How to tackle plastic waste

The issue of plastic waste has been a hot topic for some time. Most businesses agree about the urgency of the problem, but few know how to tackle it. During a discussion on circular approaches to plastics at the summit, Coca-Cola European Partners proposed solutions such as deposit return schemes, reverse vending schemes, refill stations and bioplastics.

Bioplastics are the most controversial of these solutions, as Melissa Wang, Greenpeace International’s senior scientist, emphasised. Firstly, biodegradable plastics often need specific conditions in which to degrade. And secondly, by swapping from conventional plastic to bioplastics we risk fuelling food displacement and deforestation. Wherever the solution lies, collaboration between businesses is key to finding it.

2) Initiatives for renewable energy procurement

RE100 initiatives help companies like Aviva, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, RBS and Unilever reach their renewable energy goals. Despite this, progress toward renewable energy is patchy. However, with the right pressure, things can change. For example, when 13 Japanese companies joined the RE100 initiative and voiced their demand for clean energy, ministers were spurred into action.

3) Moving beyond audits to address human rights

Human rights risks in the supply chain need to be addressed, with companies doing more than merely conduct audits. Information gathered from audits needs to be used alongside other data, insights, evidence and information to push change.

Companies need to make greater efforts to engage and understand their suppliers. They can do this by “building capacity and helping them to understand the issues their customers are concerned about,” explained Anita Househam, Senior Manager, Decent Work and Supply Chain Sustainability at the United Nations Global Compact.

But when working with suppliers, companies also need to look further along the supply chain than those at tier one. The further down the chain you go, the more likely you are to encounter human rights violations. If companies are serious about addressing human rights abuses, they need to build knowledge about their entire supply chain.

4) Supply chains are evolving

In the past, supplier–customer relationships have often been hostile. Today, these relationships have evolved into more of a partnership, with an increased focus on sustainability, transparency and cooperation.

Speaking about this at the summit, Lazar Armianov, Business Development Manager for UK and Ireland at EcoVadis, explained how greater collaboration between substantiality and procurement departments is key.

Armianov stated, “Procurement departments are being asked to deliver added value for businesses, and sustainability is a key way of doing that. Many of a company’s impacts are in its supply chain, so procurement professionals need to talk to their suppliers.”

Adare International has an ongoing commitment to the United Nations Global Compact (the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative), and in 2018 was awarded the EcoVadis gold recognition level with advanced status.

Operating in markets across the globe, we are committed to acting responsibly with our customers and suppliers, and engaging with different communities in an ethical, compliant way.

Sustainable supply chains are essential to any business’ efforts on climate action. If you would like to create a more sustainable supply chain for your business, get in touch with the team at Adare International today: hello@adareinternational.com.

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