Analyst Insight: The supply chain is a primary driver of carbon emissions, and analysts agree that the supply chain is pivotal to achieving real environmental progress. In 2023, more and more companies no longer accept aspirations toward sustainability — they want authentic achievement of sustainability initiatives, and data is the key to demonstrating progress.
Attention to the impact that the supply chain industry has on the environment isn’t new. But with increasing regulations and growing customer preference for working with sustainability-minded organizations, there’s a call to prove that environmental initiatives are being achieved. In other words, it’s not enough anymore to talk about improving the planet — both industry and customers want action.
A 2023 Gartner study on the future of supply chain found that more than half (54%) of customers will do business only with companies that practice environmental and social sustainability. The study also revealed that 67% of chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) at companies are accountable for environmental and social sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs). In addition, the Gartner study found that authentic fulfillment of ESG commitments was among the top priorities at supply chain organizations.
Real-Time Data Visibility
Data is at the center of proving sustainability initiatives are successful. Obtaining quality data is paramount in the process, and technology is the key to data integrity. Technology advancements in recent years have vastly improved the accuracy needed to convince organizations, carrier partners and colleagues that the supply chain industry is really making measurable environmental progress.
Advanced data collection tools available today measure estimated annual miles that are optimized to a more sustainable mode of transportation. Monthly and annual CO2 emission reductions are also calculated using these tools, along with European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and European Chemical Transport Association (ECTA) guidelines. Using advanced data collection tools to advance sustainability provides real-time visibility to sustainability specialists and customer/carrier teams via customizable dashboards — enabling better and more beneficial choices for the environment.
The Promise of Advanced Technology
Current and emerging technologies are playing a big part in reducing the supply chain industry’s effect on the environment. Electrification, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT)–enabled devices, predictive/prescriptive analytics, telematics and aerodynamics are some of the promising technologies being explored to lower the industry’s environmental impact.
The rise of technology tools to dig out quality data has also led to enhanced customer involvement in environmental efforts. For example, automated commercial tools can empower technology companies to better work with shippers to determine the most sustainable transportation mode for their needs. Technology tools can help companies optimize recommendations for day-to-day operations and long-range planning. In addition, consulting services are available to help organizations and their carrier partners develop effective sustainability policies and practices.
Protecting the Planet, Driving Business Growth
As the supply chain industry moves forward to prove environmental progress, sustainability initiatives shouldn’t be isolated from business growth. We can simultaneously improve the environment, slow climate change, and advance the economic interests of shippers, customers, carrier partners and investors. Honoring the planet and driving business growth can be accomplished by applying new thinking and emerging technologies in the right ways.
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