By: Dr Liz Wilks, Sustainability and Stakeholder Director, Asia Pulp & Paper UK & Europe
Last year, the Global Resources Initiative taskforce convened by the UK government, recommended that the UK government introduce a mandatory due diligence obligation. This would require companies to analyse the presence of environmental and human rights risks and impacts within their supply chains, to take action to prevent or mitigate those risks and to publicly report on actions taken and planned.
This is being echoed in the mid 2022 Sustainable Corporate Governance Policy from the European and will be applicable to both large and small organisations – giving smaller organisations a time period to ‘get ready’.
Last year in ‘getting ready’ we outlined some key areas to look at to establish your sustainability credentials if you hadn’t done that already and to make sure they are up to scratch to meet consumer demands and the changing legislation.
Some of these steps were:
1. Establishing a code of conduct with your suppliers
The first step to ensuring your supply chain is sustainable is to establish a code of conduct which outlines what you expect for your suppliers. Knowing your suppliers is critical – for example, where they are sourcing their products from and whether their sustainability ambitions align with yours.
Generally, in this set of guidelines you should explore health and safety, the company’s approach to human rights and working hours. Another key part of these guidelines is protection of the environment – for example ensuring compliance to relevant environmental laws, regulations and standards.
2. Communicating both externally and internally
What does this mean? Communicating internally is about making sure you have an open and transparent method of reporting. After all, that’s the best way to find out more about a particular product and how it is produced. However, it’s important that these guidelines are not only discussed with suppliers and put in place within the supply chain, but also proactively communicated to consumers.
Many customers will naturally be looking to fulfil their own sustainability goals through a certain product. By showcasing that a product is sustainably produced the customer base of a company can be both reassured and widened.
3. Certification matters
Additionally, there is Certification: a tried and tested method of communicating your sustainability standards with consumers. We know that consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products – in fact, our research found that three in five adults (61 percent) said they would be willing to pay more for food products packaged in sustainable materials, with 35 percent saying they would be open to paying up to 10 percent more. Providing certified Paper, packaging, labelling such as PEFC, provides independent reassurance.
4. Business Operations
An addition to this list, but by no means the least, is to review your own business.
The growth of conscious consumerism is continuing to grow, particularly during COVID and it seems this will set to stay. Establishing a sustainable supply chain will not only make your product more attractive to customers, it will also shore up your business in the long term. A truly sustainable business supports the full eco-system that surrounds the running of your business and the creation of a product.
Not only is this a good approach for the environment, it also makes commercial sense. Consumers expect, and now demand, products that are made in an environmentally sustainable way by rewarding brands that fulfil their wishes. With this in mind, businesses should also be looking to take this further, not only ensuring that the products and supply chain are sustainable, but also that these values are echoed in the business itself.
Whatever the size of a business – large or small, there is a commercial, financial and ethical value and soon a mandatory need, in implementing some sustainable measures in both the supply chain and the business itself.
Here are just a few ideas for the workplace itself:
Green Up Your Office Space: make it energy efficiency, choose for LED lamps, turn off the lights off after hours, use re-useable cutlery, pay attention to employee well being
Sustainable Storage: choose an eco-friendly facility, store items in re-useable green containers
Use Green Delivery Methods: use certified, recyclable or compostable bags, offer reductions for bulk orders
Reduce Waste: Reduce, re-use, recycle
Involve Your Employees: give them the option of remote working, incentivise environmentally friendly habits
Make Charitable Donations: donate to environmental programs, perhaps link these actions to the products you sell with either a logo or % contribution
Find environmental certifications – i.e.
This article appears at DEALER SUPPORT magazine, September 2021 edition, page 36.