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Hopes, Tweets and Dreams: The Time for Supply Chains with Conscience

Posted by IFCO Systems
November 24, 2015

Many companies are already doing the heavy lifting towards building a supply chain with a conscience...and might not know it.

Most companies want to do the right thing in terms of social and environmental responsibility, but where does that responsibility begin, and where does it end?  Employers work to create fair working conditions for employees, reduce their energy consumption, and offer outreach to local groups, but what if your purchasing policies result in needless water usage or social injustice to employees of suppliers halfway around the world, or if your decisions result in unwanted trash or waste for your customers?

Whether acting proactively or responding to negative reports and social media from around the world, corporate leaders are increasingly looking beyond their own facilities. They are considering the entire supply chain in order to achieve their social and environmental aspirations, often referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Such efforts spark the move to an extended approach to responsibility known as the responsible value chain or supply chains with conscience.  

What does Supply Chain with Conscience mean? Let’s consider some definitions:

Conscience: an inner feeling or voice that provides guidance to the rightness or wrongness of one's behavior.

Supply Chain: the complex system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.

Corporate Social responsibility (CSR): an approach to corporate self-regulation that is integrated into the company’s business model, one which shapes the company’s approach to ethical standards, and which may extend to furthering social and environmental good beyond legal compliance to promote the wellbeing of a range of stakeholders.

As complex as supply chains can be, there is a roadmap towards becoming a supply chain with conscience. There are a number of practical moves that companies can take to improve their social and environmental efforts. A study from the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Accenture, Beyond Supply Chains: Empowering Responsible Value Chains, lists 31 such steps. These cover supply chain activities ranging from more thoughtful product development through to end-of-life, in addition to embracing a supply chain perspective towards worker rights and environmental impact.

Here is a sampling of some of the 31 points:

  • design for maximum recyclability and circularity
  • establish supplier auditing and control
  • source from sustainable suppliers
  • reduce water, energy use and emissions
  • centralize and optimize waste management
  • reuse materials
  • implement fair wages policy and empower the workforce
  • enforce high environment, health, safety standards

When your supply chain utilizes RPCs from IFCO, you are already well on your way to achieving a number of these outcomes at the supply chain level. Did you know that an RPC uses 92 percent less water than a comparable corrugated container while creating 76 percent less ozone depletion and 49 percent energy? Additionally, because RPCs are recovered and reused repeatedly, they result in 82 percent less garbage generation than single trip corrugated containers.

To learn more about responsible value chains, download this informative PDF.

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Topics: Sustainability