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Top tips for sustainable sourcing

Pressure on businesses to prioritise their social and environmental impact has never been so strong as it is today. COP26 saw renewed commitments from countries around the world to make serious endeavours to limit global warming. Meanwhile COP15, which begins in April this year, will set out a framework to protect bio-diversity, and a new United Nations resolution has recently been signed by 175 countries with the aim of ending plastic pollution.

None of this can be achieved without the collaboration from industry and businesses are being called upon to set themselves ambitious targets to limit their environmental impact, and to report on their progress towards those targets in a transparent manner.

Hitting these targets will not be possible without a strong sustainable sourcing plan from your supply chain. Sustainable procurement can help you to minimise your environmental impact, control costs and protect your public reputation.

But how can you ensure sustainability across your supply chain?

Define your sustainable sourcing strategy

Step one in successfully implementing sustainable sourcing is to define your strategy: 

  • How well do you understand sustainability across your supply chain?
  • Which of the materials you source have the biggest environmental impact, and in what way?
  • What does sustainable a sourcing policy look like for your business?
  • How does your approach compare to your peers?
  • What legal requirements do I need to comply with?

Answering these questions will enable you to build your strategy.

Develop a toolkit for implementation

Now that you understand what sustainable sourcing means for your business, how are you going to implement it. You will need to consider:

  • What do you need to measure, how and when?
  • Which certifications and assurance schemes exist to measure your supply chain’s performance?

Your toolkit can include sourcing guides for each material in your supply chain, scorecards, a sustainable sourcing policy, a verification protocol and so on.

Equip people with the relevant skills and knowledge

Training your staff and supply chain colleagues in the requirements of your strategy and how to comply with it is vital. Training may be needed for:

  • Sustainability teams
  • Product development teams
  • Procurement teams
  • Suppliers

Training will need to be delivered periodically to ensure that all relevant personnel are up to date with the latest regulations, targets, and approaches.

Measure performance ongoing

With your policy rolled out, you need to be able to measure the performance of your supply chain ongoing accurately and efficiently, this can be done through auditing against:

  • Industry standard certifications
  • Assurance Schemes
  • Bespoke criteria

This will give you the evidence you need to ensure that your requirements are being met across complex and extended supply chains.

The right thing to do

A robust sustainable sourcing policy will help your business to limit its environmental and social impact across areas such as carbon footprint, deforestation, bio-diversity, human rights, animal welfare, water usage, waste management and pollution, and impact on the marine environment.

It will also bring benefits to your business. You will gain clarity on how your supply chain is impacting your progress towards hitting ESG/Net-Zero targets, develop strong relationships with sustainable and ethical suppliers and futureproof your supply chain. Vitally you will also have a robust body of evidence of your sustainable practices, protect your brand from greenwashing accusations and allow you to make bold environmental claims.

Control Union UK has extensive experience in helping clients from a wide range of sectors to develop and implement their sustainable sourcing strategies. For more information on how we can help your business please contact us on or +44 (0)20 7488 2210

Or read more about our Sustainable Sourcing Services here. 

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