The concept of sustainable sourcing isn't entirely new, but it is an idea on the rise. In recent years, consumers have become clear about the kinds of companies they want to do business with. Shoppers are interested in buying from organizations that are committed to doing good in the world, rather than just making products or offering services. This demand has given a boost to sustainability in general and green supply chains in particular. If a business is connected to questionable practices through its sourcing choices, it's hard for leaders to present the company as conscientious or positive.
Sustainability and cost coincide
As Supply Chain Dive recently explained, the current view of sustainability in procurement may take the form of a simple trade-off: Companies spend more on sourcing from verified, reliable sources and reap benefits in the form of reputation improvement. The source then added that such an impression is outdated, and the financial math may be more favorable for businesses than they expect. Due to operational changes, sustainable practices are more affordable than ever before, adding an extra incentive to adopt them.
Supply Chain Dive explained that in many cases today, responsible and cost-effective actions are completely in line. When vehicle fleets switch to more sustainable fuel sources, for instance, they create cost-saving opportunities with their high efficiency. The fact that these fuels are also less harmful to the planet over the long term means that businesses can create a green supply chain while seeing cost benefits.
In many cases, taking a longer-term look at cost over time can help drive budget-conscious companies toward more socially and environmentally responsible priorities. Harmful and damaging processes can become expensive in many cases, whether due to ramped-up regulations or the fact that depletion of resources is causing scarcity. Jumping to sustainable models preemptively can present a bottom-line booster.
It is worth asking just how close the world's companies are to adopting sustainable practices in great numbers. The Sustainability Consortium's Euan Murray, writing for GreenBiz, stated that despite large-scale setbacks, such as U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement, there have been plenty of positive signs indicating progress over the past few years. Murray stated that companies are doing valuable work adopting new and greener supply chain practices and that these efforts are worth more than headline-grabbing actions.
Murray explained that on behalf of his organization and the industry at large, he sees 2018 bringing better data flow, ensuring that companies and consumers alike can trace items back to their sources and determine whether items have been responsibly manufactured. Furthermore, he hopes that there will soon be a greater understanding that population health and environmental protection are connected. Companies that want to defend the former can and should practice the latter.