Insights & White Papers

Supply Chain Sustainability: Put into Practice what Matters

By Liberty Advisor Group

Business & Technology Strategy

C-level executives are under constant pressure to find new ways to improve their companies' supply chains. But amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be challenging to know where to focus your attention. One area that is more important than ever is supply chain sustainability.

Sustainability has become an essential factor in the success of companies and supply chains in recent years. There are several reasons for this:

      • The public is becoming increasingly interested in the environmental and social impacts of their purchases.
      • Sustainability measures can help companies manage risk, including reputation and regulatory compliance risks.
      • There is a growing demand for sustainable products, especially from millennials.

To take advantage of these opportunities, C-level executives need to understand what sustainability is and why it matters to their supply chain.

This paper will discuss the concepts of sustainability and supply chain risk and explain how companies can put these ideas into practice. We will also look at some benefits C-level executives can expect from integrating sustainability into their supply chain strategy.

What is Supply Chain Sustainability?

Supply chain sustainability is the ability of a company to manage its resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Supply chains have a significant environmental and social impact, and companies are increasingly looking for ways to make their supply chains more sustainable.

There are three main aspects of supply chain sustainability:

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability refers to the ability of a company to manage its environmental impacts. It includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using recycled materials, and reducing waste.

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability refers to the ability of a company to manage its social impacts. It includes working with suppliers who respect human rights, protecting workers’ safety and welfare, and reducing discrimination.

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability refers to the ability of a company to manage its financial impact. It includes reducing waste, using recycled materials, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Supply chains have a significant environmental and social impact, and companies are increasingly looking for ways to make their supply chains more sustainable.

Benefits of Supply Chain Sustainability

In today’s globalized economy, companies are increasingly exposed to environmental and social risks, negatively impacting their bottom line. For example, a company that sources products from regions with lax environmental regulations may face fines and reputational damage if it is revealed that the products were produced in an environmentally harmful way.

Sustainability can also help companies manage risk related to compliance. For example, many countries have introduced legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and companies that do not comply with these regulations could face fines or other penalties.

In addition to risk management, sustainability can also lead to opportunities for companies. There is a growing demand for sustainable products, especially from millennials. A recent study by Nielsen found that 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods. Moreover, sustainable practices can help companies reduce their operating costs by reducing waste and energy consumption.

Other benefits of implementing a supply chain sustainability strategy include:

      • Reduced environmental impact: Environmentally responsible companies can reduce their environmental impact by changing their supply chain. For example, they can use more sustainable materials, recycle materials, and reduce energy consumption.
      • Improved social responsibility: Socially responsible companies can improve the working conditions of workers in their supply chain and ensure that they are treated fairly. They can also produce products that are made sustainably.
      • Improved efficiency: Sustainable supply chains are more efficient than traditional ones. They use less energy and resources and are less likely to have waste.
      • Increased profits: Implementing a supply chain sustainability strategy can improve a company’s bottom line by reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

Challenges of Supply Chain Sustainability

While there are many benefits to implementing sustainable practices in the supply chain, companies may still face some challenges. The most common challenge is cost. Sustainable practices often require additional investment, which can be tricky for companies in today’s competitive environment.

Another challenge is the lack of standardization. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability, and each company must develop its own strategy based on its unique circumstances. This is a significant challenge, especially for smaller companies that may not have the resources to build a comprehensive sustainability plan.

There is also the challenge of measuring success. It can be challenging to quantify the benefits of sustainable practices and determine whether a company is operating sustainably.

Although these challenges exist, they should not dissuade companies from implementing a supply chain sustainability strategy. With careful planning and execution, sustainable practices can be integrated into the supply chain with minimal disruption to business as usual.

Framework for Integrating Sustainability into Your Supply Chain

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to integrating sustainability into your supply chain. However, there are a few steps that you can take to get started.

      • Assess your environmental and social risks: The first step is to assess your supply chain’s environmental and social risks. They include evaluating the environmental and social impact of your suppliers, as well as the regions where they operate.
      • Develop a strategy to mitigate risk: Once you have identified the risks, you need to develop a plan to mitigate them. It may include working with suppliers to improve their environmental and social performance or transitioning to sustainable materials and practices.
      • Evaluate your progress: You need to set metrics to track your progress and ensure that you are making positive changes in your supply chain. This may include using third-party certifications or auditing your suppliers’ compliance with your sustainability strategy.
      • Communicate your progress: It is essential to communicate your progress to stakeholders, including customers, employees, and investors. This will help build support for your sustainability initiatives and create a culture of sustainability within your organization.

Supply chain sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue for companies worldwide. Implementing a supply chain sustainability strategy can improve a company’s bottom line by reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

The Bottom Line

Sustainability is essential for companies of all sizes, and supply chain sustainability is no exception. Implementing a sustainable supply chain can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase profit. While there are some challenges to implementing a sustainable strategy, they should not dissuade companies from making an effort. With careful planning and execution, sustainable practices can be integrated into the supply chain with minimal disruption to the business.

ABOUT LIBERTY ADVISOR GROUP

Liberty Advisor Group is a goal-oriented, client-focused, and results-driven consulting firm. We are a lean, handpicked team of strategists, technologists, and entrepreneurs – battle-tested experts with a steadfast, start-up attitude. We collaborate, integrate, and ideate in real-time with our clients to deliver situation-specific solutions that work. Liberty Advisor Group has the experience to realize our clients’ highest ambitions. Liberty has been named as Great Place to Work, to the Best Places to Work in Chicago, and to FORTUNE’s list of Best Workplaces in Consulting and Professional Services.

Liberty’s hands-on supply chain experience is why we are able to understand and appreciate the challenges that our clients face. The advisors in our Supply Chain Practice do not have generalist backgrounds – practicing supply chain experts who are passionate about the industry and how it continually evolves. Further, they have worked across the entire supply chain lifecycle.

By Liberty Advisor Group