Customers’ Demand for Sustainable Supply Chains

Considering the environment and doing business only with vendors who demonstrate an awareness of socioeconomic conditions is becoming increasingly important to consumers. As a result, manufacturing companies are changing many aspects of the way they do business. This includes greater scrutiny of their suppliers and abandoning some long-held relationships to shift with changing priorities.

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Best Practices

Primary suppliers who want to make sustainability a priority are adopting several strategies to promote social and environmental responsibility. These include:

  • Setting short- and long-term sustainability goals.
  • Require the first-tier suppliers with whom they work to also set sustainability goals.
  • Include lower-tier suppliers in their sustainability priorities.
  • Hold suppliers accountable by delegating a point person to monitor progress.

In order to implement these theories, companies are surveying suppliers on their procedures and practices as related to sustainability. In addition, organizations are thoroughly mapping all of the primary, secondary and tertiary links in their supply chains to determine where weaknesses or lack of sustainability compliance lie.

A Real-Life Sustainability Example

Among the global organizations that are walking their talk about sustainability is 3M Electronics. This worldwide manufacturer has long demonstrated its commitment to the environment, to critically endangered species and the habitats in which they live.

As part of the goals the company has set to promote reduction of waste, clean water and air and limiting the effects of its behavior on climate change, 3M Electronics is committed to recycling, responsible paper sourcing and sustainable innovation concerning all of the paper and electronics products it produces.

Moving Toward Socially and Environmentally Conscious Production

Particularly in the case of electronics suppliers, sustainability is a goal that is easier discussed than put into practice. This difficulty is mostly due to the realities of the industry, specifically that specialized components are only sourced in a small part of the world by a few vendors. In order for that situation to change, the entire system will need to be re-imagined, with buy-in from the entire industry as well as a consortium of national leaders.

However, that does not mean that individual organizations cannot take tangible steps to promote the sustainability goals that consumers are requesting in the meantime. Conducting a thorough examination of all suppliers and supporting those who are going the extra mile to consider society and the environment is the first step. As a result of these actions, organizations can be transparent with their customers regarding the efforts they and their suppliers have enacted.

The course toward an entirely sustainable supply chain is arduous, with many factors beyond a single company’s control. However, taking every possible step to understand all players and processes in the current supply chain and patronizing entities that are in line with environmentally and socially conscious goals is an excellent start.

Interesting related article: “What is the Environment?