Executive Briefings

Q&A: Bringing Sustainability to Supply Chains

What's at stake when an organization's supply chain lacks transparency? Just about everything, if you ask David Meyer, a senior consultant with BSI EHS Services and Solutions. Companies that don't make an effort to develop value-added transparency and proactive collaboration throughout their supply chains are putting their businesses on the line.

For Meyer, bringing sustainability to supply chains means setting a higher bar for responsible sourcing and supplier codes of conduct. He will be sharing how to do this at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. We recently caught up with him to get his insights on driving supply chain transparency.

Why is it important for organizations to work with their suppliers throughout the supply chain?

I've been in the supply chain space looking at that with respect to environmental health and safety for about 10 years. One of the key events was Walmart had a big push related to packaging around 2005. It launched this initiative within the packaging industry to come up with better, more improved ways to lightweight their materials, to use more recycled materials.

Hewlett-Packard, around the same time, started capacity building through supplier forums and Focused Improvement Supplier Initiative (FISI) programs in China and Central Europe. Other companies like GE and Hermann Miller were starting to evaluate the materials that go into products to reduce the environmental footprint, work with organizations that valued corporate social responsibility, and invest in issues around labor.

What happens when companies don't apply sustainability principles to their supply chains?

Imagine you're a major manufacturer, and you are beholden to one particular type of supplier. Yet at their manufacturing facilities they lack health, safety, or environmental controls. That in turn leads to some type of incident that causes disruption, and they're unable to provide those key inputs in materials to their customer. That creates a brittle supply chain that could affect a customer's products, and be quite costly to organizations.

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For Meyer, bringing sustainability to supply chains means setting a higher bar for responsible sourcing and supplier codes of conduct. He will be sharing how to do this at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. We recently caught up with him to get his insights on driving supply chain transparency.

Why is it important for organizations to work with their suppliers throughout the supply chain?

I've been in the supply chain space looking at that with respect to environmental health and safety for about 10 years. One of the key events was Walmart had a big push related to packaging around 2005. It launched this initiative within the packaging industry to come up with better, more improved ways to lightweight their materials, to use more recycled materials.

Hewlett-Packard, around the same time, started capacity building through supplier forums and Focused Improvement Supplier Initiative (FISI) programs in China and Central Europe. Other companies like GE and Hermann Miller were starting to evaluate the materials that go into products to reduce the environmental footprint, work with organizations that valued corporate social responsibility, and invest in issues around labor.

What happens when companies don't apply sustainability principles to their supply chains?

Imagine you're a major manufacturer, and you are beholden to one particular type of supplier. Yet at their manufacturing facilities they lack health, safety, or environmental controls. That in turn leads to some type of incident that causes disruption, and they're unable to provide those key inputs in materials to their customer. That creates a brittle supply chain that could affect a customer's products, and be quite costly to organizations.

Read Full Article