Comment: Achieving sustainability – collaborate, then compete
Whether it is awareness driven by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet or the ‘mindful buying’ millennials and Generation Zs, the impact of our consumer society on the planet appears to be increasingly influencing purchasing behaviour. But how easily can retailers or producers make the necessary changes to improve sustainability?
Alan Gunner, Business Development Director, Adjuno, explains the value of retailer collaboration throughout the supply chain to improve sustainability standards globally.
The Risk of Innovation
With the latest news about the vast quantities of micro plastics in our rivers, drinking water and bottled water, the tide of consumer opinion is turning fast. Understanding the sources of these micro plastics is key – with many believed to come from modern fleece-type fabrics during the washing process. And micro plastics is just one concern; retailers are working with science and academia in a bid to discover new products that have better environmental credentials – from recyclable man-made fibres to cotton production methods that use far less water.
One organisation that recently took a public stand on improving its sustainability is LEGO. Rather than continuing to use conventional plastic, LEGO are introducing new sustainable elements made from polyethylene, a plant-based plastic. Although this new programme still needs some consideration in regards to the environmental impacts of the sugarcane the polyethylene is produced from, this initiative shows that LEGO is pushing forward with new methods and constantly re-evaluating the environmental impacts of its products. In fact, this is just the beginning for the LEGO, who are committed to using sustainable materials in all core products and packaging by 2030.
But while there are potential competitive advantages to be gained from going it alone and making that sustainable breakthrough, the risks are also significant. Stick your head above the parapet with a strategy that is not 100% robust and prepare to be shot down.
So, where and how can retailers make a difference? Small incremental gains are likely, in reality, to have a far bigger impact, not only on the environment but also on the lives of those involved in the manufacturing process. Focusing on production methods to reduce the amount of water used in the creation of cotton products, from farming through to processing, is essential. As is minimising the toxicity of chemicals used in the dyeing process. The world has finite water and energy resources – failure to become far more effective in production will affect not only consumer perception but also profitability.
Era of Collaboration
Such achievements are far more likely to be achieved collaboratively, by retailers working together to drive up sustainability within factories. Following the 17 goals for sustainability laid down by the UN in 2015, including nine set by the Ethical Trading Institute (ETI), there are significant opportunities for retailers to collaborate – from sharing performance information to jointly funding ethical audits.
One organisation supporting this ‘open information’ approach is Common Objective, which is building up a database of suppliers – including their ethical and sustainable credentials - from information provided by retailers. This database will help other organisations quickly locate the best source of, for example, sustainably produced cotton T-Shirts, or suppliers that work to a specific ethical standard.
In addition to reducing the barrier to sustainable production for retailers, this collaborative approach also frees up resources to focus on innovation that could provide a competitive edge. For example, strong, end to end supply chain insight and control can provide the ability to track the source of every piece of wood used within the product line, from the type of tree to location and certification, to ensure all wood is sustainably sourced. Similar models could be adopted for products made from leather, cotton or feather and down.
Furthermore, with this collaborative model reinforcing the credentials and business value of a pool of high quality suppliers, retailers can create strong foundation for continual innovation within an established and trusted supplier base, delivering incremental sustainability improvements year on year.
The Ultimate Procurement & Supply Chain Event
From September 28th-30th, network with C-level executives, gain insight from industry pioneers and walk away with actionable insights that accelerate your career. By the end of the week, we promise you’ll have the skills to solve the world’s most pressing supply chain and procurement challenges.
The three-day show is an essential deep dive into the industry, with influential speakers sharing insights and strategies from their organisations, group roundtable discussions, and fireside chats. Whether you attend virtually or in person, you’ll strategise how to cope with global disruption, learn from industry leaders, and walk away with tips, tactics, and tangible connections.
How to Attend
In a COVID-disrupted era, we know that the majority of people would rather avoid travelling for events─why take the risk, right? In response to the continued disruption, BizClik Media Group has decided that Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE will offer the best of both worlds through hybrid accessibility.
That means you and your peers can attend the event in person or virtually ─ with no disadvantages for people who choose not to make the trip to the Tobacco Dock venue.
Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE will be held at the Tobacco Dock in London, an industry-leading venue that is renowned for delivering world-class events. For attendees’ peace of mind, the venue is working to the government-endorsed AEV All Secure Framework, alongside mia’s AIM Secure and ‘Good to Go’ accreditation, they will ensure that we achieve a COVID-secure environment to facilitate all of your networking needs.
Our physical venue is both historic and stunning, but it has no bearing on the information that you and your peers can gain from the event. You can still absorb it all, interact with other attendees, and enjoy the conference experience on your alternative, virtual platform.
The platform will feature live feeds from all of the stages, as well as virtual networking areas. So, if you want to avoid travel, it’s not a problem! You can still get involved and enjoy the entire experience from the comfort of your own home.
What’s on the agenda?
With keynote addresses from global leaders, dynamic roundtable discussions, and extensive networking opportunities, Procurement & Supply Chain 2021 will expand your network, deliver insight, and enhance your organisation’s reach.
Across the three-day event, a number of relevant topics and trends surrounding procurement and supply chain will be discussed.
- Tuesday 28 September - Digital supply chain
- Procurement strategy (11:30 am)
- Supply chain leaders forum (12:00 pm)
- Women in supply chain (14:00 pm)
- Procurement technology (14:30 pm)
- Wednesday 29 September - Procurement consulting
- Sustainability (11:30 am)
- Supply chain management (12:00 pm)
- Digitalisation (14:00 pm)
- Risk & Resilience (14:30 pm)
- Thursday 30 September - APAC sessions (04:00 am)
Influential executives from around the world will give their insights and professional experiences surrounding these topics, allowing you and your company to leave with valuable information.
The past year has shown how important supply chains are and the importance of managing them correctly. With increasing digitalisation across all industries, you won’t want to miss out on our great speakers and information surrounding this topic. Preparing your company for the future is key, and we are sure you will gain great insights at our three-day event.
Order now to make the most of our early-bird offer. Ticket prices increase over 50% soon! For tickets and information, head over to our event site.