Supply chains are an important part of any business, and without them, a business could not function.
Not only can they be used to manage the flow of goods, but they can be used in other areas such as managing financial issues like supply chain management finance.
Sustainability in supply chains is often cited as a key factor in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
This includes the Sustainable Development Goal of creating decent work and jobs, which has been made possible through the use of sustainable business models.
The article provided is going to cover 25 different examples of how companies are using their supply chains to create sustainability initiatives that benefit their employees, consumers, and employees.
This also promotes good working practices for both companies and consumers which benefits everyone involved in the supply chain.
Included will be a brief definition for each subject as well as some case studies where real examples can be found.
1) Repurposing products that can be salvaged
A lot of materials used in the production of products can be recycled and reused, which is an environmentally friendly way to do business.
New sustainable practices are profitable as well because they are not just beneficial for the company, but also for its customers.
2) Checklists and sustainability metrics
A checklist is a list of things that need to be done before a certain task can begin. In supply chains, a checklist can be used for any type of task.
It can have general procedures or specific checklists assigned to each step of the process.
Sustainability metrics are numbers that tell you the effectiveness of a certain supply chain or a product.
This has caused many companies to use their supply chains and products more holistically.
3) Sustainable packaging for products
Boxes and packaging are the two most important components used in the design of a product.
To make sure that their supply chains can be sustainable, companies also ensure that they use environmentally friendly packaging materials.
An example of recycled material is using recycled paper on empty boxes because it saves companies from having to create new cardboard boxes every time they need one.
As consumers move toward healthier foods, companies must use sustainable packaging so they can live up to their customer’s expectations and continue making money on their products.
Sustainable packaging can also help a company save money on their advertising budget by buying empty containers for their products and using them again for other products.
4) Closed-loop supply chains
A closed-loop supply chain means that all of the materials used in the production of a product go back into the supply chain.
Companies can use recycled materials or environmentally safe materials to produce products, which helps keep the ecosystem healthy and reduce waste in general.
In manufacturing, there are two types of closed chain systems making up a closed loop: upstream and downstream.
Upstream systems produce materials for products and then the materials are used in the creation of a final product.
Downstream systems take those materials and use them again in the creation of a finished product.
5) Automation of processes
Automation of processes is a form of technology that is used for a variety of reasons, but in the supply chain context, it helps to keep costs down and speed up production.
This lowers operating costs for companies because they are not using as much labor or machines which means they can lower their prices and still make a profit.
6) Tree planting after harvesting
Forests are a large part of any supply chain, but they can be harmed by harvesting them or cutting down trees, which is why companies can plant trees after their products have been harvested.
This helps keep forests healthy by giving them the natural materials they need to grow and stay healthy while also giving the company a positive image with its customers.
7) Extended warranties
Extended warranties are an important part of a company’s overall plan for sustainable development.
Their customers expect a certain level of quality from their products, and companies can provide that by offering high-quality extended warranties.
This can save companies money in the long run because the warranty helps keep more products in the market than if they did not offer one.
When customers buy an item that is covered by an extended warranty they are more likely to buy another piece of equipment or product from the same company as well.
8) Sustainability resource management systems (SRMS)
SRMS allows companies to measure their environmental performance and develop strategies for increasing sustainability in their supply chains.
Companies are given guidelines on how to use their supply chains for the benefit of both their suppliers and customers.
These systems are very adaptable because they are not a set of detailed prescriptions that all companies have to follow, rather they are general strategies that companies can use at their discretion.
SRMS focuses on the company’s overall vision for sustainability and making sure that it stays consistent across departments.
9) Upstream supply chain collaboration
Collaboration is very important in supply chains because it allows a company to make better decisions regarding resources and sustainability.
After all, they have more information they can use.
Companies can have their suppliers fill out questionnaires or surveys, which can help the company monitor their progress throughout their supply chain.
This helps them not waste resources when outsourcing production or buying input materials but also gives them valuable information that they can use when making purchasing decisions in the future.
10) Become climate positive
Climate Positive is a program that involves several companies and nonprofit organizations working together to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
They use their supply chain sustainability metrics to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by making sure they are buying environmentally friendly products.
11) Green supply chain certification
Companies can become certified for their sustainable supply chain performance.
This helps them to stand out as a leader in the industry and also helps their customers feel more confident about purchasing their products.
Partnering with nonprofit organizations, companies can get certified for practicing sustainable living.
When you partner with an NGO, you can work together to strengthen the environment while also working together on growing your company and its community outreach by donating money and time to charity projects.
12) Invest in energy efficiency
This includes techniques such as using renewable energy sources to avoid wasting energy that would otherwise be used for manufacturing.
A great example is the use of photovoltaic panels (solar panels) in a factory, which helps create clean energy.
The Achieve Better Energy Efficiency (ABEE) program looks at the energy efficiency of a company’s entire supply chain and determines how it can use its resources more efficiently.
They look at their end consumers to see how they can reduce consumption by upgrading to more efficient products.
They use their supply chain sustainability metrics to help them measure the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere during manufacturing processes.
This allows companies to make strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and become more sustainable.
13) Use preferential trade agreements
Preferential Trade Agreements are used to motivate companies to create sustainable supply chains by giving them economic benefits for being more sustainable.
They use their supply chain sustainability metrics to highlight the effects of purchasing goods from a certain country rather than another in terms of its economic and social benefits.
A country that has a high level of attention to sustainability is likely to have fewer trade barriers and will be able to create a more sustainable supply chain.
Companies need to look at which country they want their products to come from and the benefits they can gain by choosing their country over another.
14) Environmental management systems
An Environmental Management System is a way for companies to measure their environmental impact and develop strategies for minimizing it.
Companies can use their sustainability metrics to give them an idea of how they are doing, which helps them make better decisions in the future.
15) Use soft-focused leadership
Soft-Focused Leadership is the way companies can create sustainable supply chains by creating leadership teams that focus on sustainability.
The leaders in these teams are often made up of sustainability experts and can help companies develop strategies and make decisions on how they will increase sustainability in their supply chains.
16) Encourage environmental monitoring and reporting
Environmental monitoring and reporting help companies monitor the environmental impact of their supply chain.
They use their supply chain sustainability metrics to measure how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and how much waste is produced throughout the life cycle of their products.
17) Green procurement policies
Green policies are used to encourage sustainable practices by focusing on supporting sustainability in purchasing decisions.
These policies make companies think about how the products they buy may affect their future sustainability, which encourages them to buy more environmentally friendly products.
18) Involve stakeholders
Involving stakeholders in sustainable practices is a way to make businesses more sustainable because it allows them to use their experience and knowledge to help the company make decisions.
Using supply chain sustainability metrics can give managers insight into how a company is doing in terms of its sustainability goals and what it needs to do better.
This gives them ideas on how they can improve production processes, sources for input materials, or buying decisions for products.
19) Use social responsibility certification
This will be an important part of your brand.
Brands such as Levi Strauss are working towards achieving certification from the Responsible Care scheme (which includes water, air, and social issues) to help raise awareness, especially in emerging nations.
This can also show consumers they have certain values and a sense of “purpose” that is beyond what is commercially simply valuable.
20) Look at biodegradability
Brands are increasingly trying to move towards materials that are biodegradable or ‘close to nature.
This means they need less energy and water to be created and help the environment.
One example is Nike which has used bioplastic in their Air Force 1 shoe where 95% of the shoe is made from cornstarch.
21) Make your products more sustainable
One way to create more sustainable products is by using 100% recycled content in your finished product, made from materials that can also be recycled (e.g.: paper, plastic bottles, and cotton).
H&M was the first brand to use 100% in its fashion manufacturing and packaging.
22) Reduce carbon footprint
Reducing carbon footprint is a sustainable strategy that is focused on reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from their production processes from raw material extraction to finished products in stores (e.g.: climate control).
Using energy-efficient light bulbs and saving energy in manufacturing is also an easy way to reduce carbon footprint.
23) Move to circular economy
The circular economy is a sustainable trend that refers to the continuous design of products and services that not only benefit current market needs but also the future market after their production, usage, and end-of-life.
24) Use design to create better sustainability
A good example is Patagonia.
They have designed their fabric which is made from recycled bottles and requires less water, energy, and materials to be produced.
This helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in their manufacturing process, which then improves their sustainability.
25) Minimize packaging
This can be done by simply using lighter packaging materials or using recyclable materials to minimize waste after being discarded.
One example is IKEA which is making improvements with its packaging because in 1989 they began to offer a $1 deposit for each carton returned for recycling.
IKEA started to sell recycled and recyclable material furniture in 1991, which began a revolution of sustainable products on the market.
And, that’s it!
The sustainability of products and services is about being able to use what was originally available and create something new out of it that is still useful.
There are a lot of ways companies can become more sustainable in their supply chains, but many companies are unaware of these methods and how they can help them become more sustainable while also making them money.
This blog post provides some examples of sustainability in supply chains, from its inception through to the end product.
It also tells you how it improves the environment and what people can do to help.
If we don’t act now, sustainability will be a luxury only available for a small number of privileged brands.
For all brands, it’s time to start making our products more sustainable!
The most successful businesses today are those that have developed sustainable products and services but also have strong ethical values.