Why sustainable supply chains matter

As accountability and transparency become increasingly important to investors, clients, consumers and other stakeholders, sustainable supply chain shortcomings can be a blow to a company’s sustainability credentials including the tendering process. We at FRITH are seeing this through work undertaken with different sectors in the supply chain, where vulnerabilities are apparent, for example, a lack of certification, or not understanding the supply and value chain of products and services.

As an SME, we are always looking at our supply chain in areas where we can conserve natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, and create business value around the triple bottom line. This is the case for many companies where environmental and sustainability managers are working to green their credentials, and evaluate the overall triple bottom line. This approach can help enhance a company’s reputation, improve efficiencies, provide market differentiation and reduce associated risks along the supply chain. There are also other risks related to the supply chain around societal impacts including employees, health and safety incidents, employee disputes, environmental incidents, product recalls and legislation including the UK Modern Slavery Act. This contributes to the wider debate where companies are investing in measures beyond their direct operations to create resilient and responsible supply chains to ensure transparency and accountability. Of course, we must not forget procurement practices that augment a company’s security through the supply chain and which are vulnerable to changes relating to availability, affordability, criticality, accessibility and, future shocks and shifts in our plausible future.

So how do we work some of these issues into a company? Life-cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) can aid the decision making process and help create a product or service which is more sustainable through life. Companies including FRITH are always looking at ways to address the impacts of products and services along the life cycle with the aim of protecting the environment. We acknowledge as a business the risks of trade-offs between possible impacts associated with product and service life cycles along the supply chain, and, the necessity of taking account of climate change issues, and, biodiversity net gain from a systems perspective. We have a different dilemma every day. So what should you do? There is a need to communicate with your environmental/sustainability manager and employees to stimulate this debate internally, and then work with your supply, and, value chain, to understand the full spectrum when accounting and communicating your sustainability credentials.