Retailers worth $3.3trn scaling up supply chain sustainability
Leading retail powerhouses are stepping up on supply chain sustainability, according to the latest figures from CDP, a global environmental impact non-profit.
The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has just been joined by three more of the top 20 retail companies – CVS Health, Target Corporation and Tesco – in collecting data from suppliers to reduce environmental risk and cut carbon emissions in the supply chain.
Ten years after CDP started collecting supply chain data on behalf of the world’s largest purchasing organisations, 115 organisations – representing a combined annual spend of more than US$3.3 trillion – are now requesting data from over 11,500 suppliers.
This is more than a 15% increase from last year, when 99 organisations requested data.
Sonya Bhonsle, Head of Supply Chain at CDP, commented: “With emissions in the supply chain on average around four times greater than those from a company’s direct operations – and rising to up to seven times greater for retailers and consumer-facing companies – large multinational corporations cannot comprehensively address their environmental impact without looking to their supply chains.
“It’s very encouraging to see so many of the world’s biggest buyers taking supply chain sustainability seriously. By requesting data from their suppliers, they are shining a light on the risks hidden deep within their production chains – and uncovering a myriad of opportunities for reducing their overall environmental footprint, boosting innovation and cutting costs.”
The rise in companies scrutinising their supply chains coincides with growing momentum behind the take-up of science-based targets – goals that allow companies to reduce their emissions in line with the decarbonisation required to keep global temperature increase below two degrees Celsius, the central aim of the Paris Agreement.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which helps companies develop and approves such targets, requires companies to set scope 3 targets if their scope 3 emissions account for at least 40% of their total emissions. For global retailers that do not manufacture many of the products they sell, scope 3 emissions in their supply chain can be far greater than 40%.
Ariane Grazian, Senior Manager, Walmart Sustainability at Walmart, which has been requesting data from its suppliers for ten years, commented: “We are proud of the improvements we’ve made in reducing our own emissions, but we aim to do more. That’s why Walmart is working with CDP, our suppliers and others on Project Gigaton – an approved science-based target initiative aimed at avoiding a gigaton (one billon metric tons) of emissions from the global value chain by 2030.
“Walmart is collaborating with CDP’s supply chain program to accelerate action and track suppliers’ progress toward Project Gigaton. In year one, Project Gigaton has helped inspire action that has led to the avoidance of 20 million metric tons of emissions and has expanded into China and the UK with participation from over 400 suppliers with operations in over 30 countries.”
In addition to the retailers, other organisations which have begun requesting supplier data through CDP in 2018 include:
- Belgian-Brazilian company AB InBev, the world's biggest brewer with revenues of US$46 billion in 2016, and it’s Brazilian subsidiary AmBev;
- Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, the main municipal utility in the United States, serving over four million residents;
- Leading specialty chemicals companies Croda (UK) and Arkema (France); and
- Royal Bank of Canada, the largest bank in Canada by market capitalisation.
- They join many of the world’s leading corporations, including Bank of America, Barclays, Dell Inc., Imperial Brands, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, LEGO, L’Oréal, Novartis, NRG Energy, Phillips Lighting, Philip Morris International, Royal Phillips, the U.S. General Services Administration, and Virgin Money Holdings, in engaging their supply chains through CDP.
EU and US agree end to Airbus-Boeing supply chain tariffs
The EU and US have agreed to resolve a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies, suspending tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods that have plagued procurement leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
Under an agreement reached by European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Tuesday, the tariffs will be halted for a period of at least five years.
It will bring an end to punitive and disruptive levies on supply chains that have little to do with the argument, which became embroiled in the trade battle. Businesses on both sides of the dispute have been hit with more than $3.3bn in duties since they were first imposed by the US in October 2019, according the EC.
The US imposed charges on goods upto $7.5bn in response to a World Trade Organisation ruling that judged the EU’s support of Airbus, its biggest aircraft manufacturer, unlawful. A year later in November 2020, the EU hit back. The WTO found the US had violated trade rules in its favourable treatment of Boeing, and was hit with EU duties worth $4bn.
In all the tariffs affected $11.5bn worth of goods, including French cheese, Scotch whisky, aircraft and machinery in Europe, and sugarcane products, handbags and tobacco in America. Procurement leaders on both sides of the fence were forced to wrestle with tariffs of 15% on aircraft and components, and 25% on non-aircraft related products.
Boeing-Airbus dispute by the numbers
- The dispute began in 2004
- Tariffs suspended for 5 years
- $11.5bn worth of goods affected by tariffs
- $3.3bn in duties paid by businesses to date
- 15% levy on aircraft and 25% on non-aircraft goods suspended
Both sides welcome end to tariffs
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen branded the truce a “major step” in ending what is the longest running dispute in WTO history. It began in 2004.
“I am happy to see that after intensive work between the European Commission and the US administration, our transatlantic partnership is on its way to reaching cruising speed. This shows the new spirit of cooperation between the EU and the US and that we can solve the other issues to our mutual benefit,” she added.
Both aircraft manufacturers have welcomed the news. Airbus said in a statement that it will hopefully bring to an end the “lose-lose tariffs” that are affecting industries already facing “many challenges”. Boeing added that it will “fully support the U.S. Government’s efforts to ensure that the principles in this understanding are respected”.
The US aerospace firm added: "The understanding reached today commits the EU to addressing launch aid, and leaves in place the necessary rules to ensure that the EU and United States live up to that commitment, without requiring further WTO action."
This week’s decision expands upon a short-term tariff truce announced in March this year. The EC says it will work closely with the US to try and further resolve the dispute, establishing a Working Group on Large Civil Aircraft led by each side’s trade minister.
Airbus last month signalled to suppliers that post-pandemic recovery was on the horizon, telling them to scale up to meet a return to pre-COVID manufacturing levels. “The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury, adding that suppliers should prepare for a period of intensive production “when market conditions call for it.”