Supply Chain Sustainability Standards Lacking, Companies Say

by | Jul 24, 2012

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Sixty-two percent of executives surveyed said a lack of measurement standards impairs their efforts to track supply chain sustainability performance, according to a study released today by Green Research.

The firm surveyed 30 senior sustainability and procurement executives at major companies globally and found that poor data quality also hinders efforts to improve sustainability in corporate supply chains. According to the study, Sustainability in the Supply Chain: Best Practices, Tools and Trends, 81 percent of companies surveyed said they plan to ask suppliers for more information in the coming year.

Still, executives remain optimistic about improving sustainability in their supply chains, according to the analysis. The report found 64 percent of executives say their companies can have significant influence on their top suppliers’ sustainability performance. Additionally, 84 percent say they can obtain much better environmental performance from suppliers without compromising their companies’ business goals.

New green technologies and management practices throughout the supply chain will make supply chain sustainability improvements possible, Green Research says. The report identifies supply chain sustainability best practices that include setting specific goals, educating and supporting suppliers, and leveraging emerging standards to collect and analyze sustainability data from the supply chain.

The study also finds that a wide range of technology vendors and service providers have entered the market with solutions for helping companies collect, track and manage supply chain sustainability performance data. About 40 percent of executives surveyed said their companies were somewhat likely or very likely to acquire a new IT system to help with supplier sustainability information over the next 12 months.

US firms will spend $2.5 billion annually on technology consulting and systems integration relating to their energy and sustainability initiatives by 2015, according to a Verdantix report published earlier this month. The forecasted spending reflects a 47 percent increase from $1.7 billion in 2011, and a compound annual growth rate of 11 percent over the 2011-2015 period.

In May, UL Environment, the environmental services unit of Underwriters Laboratories, launched a free web-based tool to help manufacturers assess their corporate sustainability efforts.

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