This Scorecard is due to be updated in 2018
In the search for sustainability, companies are beginning to realise that the greatest challenges may not lie within their immediate operations but in the origin of the goods and services moving through their supply chain. Consumers and other stakeholders are expressing concerns about safety, quality, human rights and the environmental impact of business activities. Being transparent along the supply chain is therefore important in establishing trust and securing business reputation. Experiences such as the 2013 horse meat scandal in Europe, when horse meat was discovered to be widely present in food products labelled as containing other meat, has publicly highlighted how complex and opaque some supply chains have become within a global economy and how damaging this can be to business.
It is no longer possible for business to claim supply chain monitoring is not feasible, because technology has facilitated greater transparency. The ‘internet of everything’, the communication of devices with each other and us, is becoming ever larger and more significant. Product labelling has been transformed by digital technology such as microscopic electronic devices, genetic markers for agricultural products and barcodes that can be read by standard mobile phones. Increasingly, tracking and recording technologies are combined with the global reach of the internet producing virtually unlimited data storage and new ways to mine data so access to detailed information about the supply chain is becoming ever easier.
The purchasing power of some businesses is such that they can have a big effect down the supply chain and therefore are in a position to encourage and help contractors and suppliers to improve their environmental standards, a win-win for everyone involved. Even the smallest business, with very limited buying power, still has the ability to articulate its practices and preferences and/or to seek out contractors and suppliers with the best environmental performance to support and enhance its own. Conversely, contractors and suppliers will have specialist knowledge and expertise, unique to their services or products, that can be valuable sources of practical advice on environmental performance and sustainability practices for a company.
There are several ways an organisation can evaluate, develop and improve environmental practices within the supply chain. These might include:
● Setting specific environmental, sustainable and/or responsible procurement strategies
● Using certification standards, e.g. purchasing from eco-certified companies or sourcing goods that have been environmentally-certified (for example, Forest Stewardship Council certified paper)
● Assessing potential suppliers' and contractors' environmental policies and statements to identify appropriate suppliers
● Engaging the supply chain, perhaps working collaboratively or in partnership to fulfil particular environmental requirements
● Setting environmental targets in contracts or service agreements
● Building environmental performance into a product or service
● Monitoring performance against targets set
● Site visits
● Third-party audits
● Reporting against internationally recognised standards.
On occasion, it may be necessary for a business to strike a balance between the benefits of good environmental practices against cost and quality, for example, down the supply chain or in selecting a contractor. These are not always easy choices to make.