Apple, Dell, HP ‘Better at Supply Chain Disclosure’

by | Dec 18, 2012

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Apple, Dell and HP do a better job disclosing environmental issues in their supply chains than companies headquartered in Asia including Canon, Panasonic and Samsung, according to a report from Verdantix.

The report reviewed 12 consumer electronics companies with aggregate revenues of $977 billion. The companies — Apple, Canon, Dell, Hitachi, HP, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba — show a heavy contrast as to how much data they disclose regarding their sustainable supply chain programs, the analyst firm says.

Companies such as Canon, Hitachi and Samsung are not only failing to disclose their environmental supply chain issues but are not auditing and engaging their suppliers to the same extent as the leading US firms, according to Sustainable Supply Chain Benchmark: Consumer Electronics, which also reviews companies’ social supply chain issues.

Canon, Microsoft and Toshiba don’t cover air pollution, including GHG emissions, in their supplier minimum standards and audit process, it says. While all of the companies audit their suppliers’ materials and substances, and all except Toshiba audit waste produced, only Panasonic includes biodiversity when auditing its suppliers.

Apple, Canon, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba do not audit suppliers’ energy use, and only half of the 12 companies (Dell, HP, LG, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung) include water consumption in audits.

The report uses a Verdantix benchmark methodology to help decision-makers to understand where and how to improve supply chain performance. It identifies three categories of consumer electronics supply chain strategies (see chart): leading, opportunistic, and baseline strategies. These strategies vary on the standards set for suppliers, audit programs and disclosures, and engagement initiatives.

Abbie Curtis, Verdantix analyst and author of the report, says investors, NGOs, the media and consumers are becoming increasingly informed about environmental supply chain issues and are increasingly holding consumer electronics firms accountable. Companies that don’t prioritize disclosure risk damaging their reputations, she says.

In September, Ceres launched an online tool to help companies assess supply chain sustainability.

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