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The importance of supply chain sustainability

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As companies continue to re-examine their goals and priorities amid turbulent times, the concept of supply chain sustainability is often one of their highest priorities. This refers to how all partners involved in the supply and manufacturing procedure work together over the long run to ensure that their processes and actions are conducive to both nature and society. A solid, sustainable supply chain keeps not only profits but people and the planet in mind.

Map your entire plan

Unless you know all of the players on your team, you cannot possibly ferret out the sources of vulnerability or waste. Taking a comprehensive look at your entire process can also highlight areas where you are relying too heavily on a single supplier or region of the world. A recent example of this fatal dependence is the fact that the vast majority of the personal protective equipment vital for shielding health care workers from COVID-19 infection were manufactured in China. When the virus brought Chinese production of masks, gowns and other items to a screeching halt in early 2020, the consequences were disastrous because no other sources existed to obtain this life-saving equipment.

Make sustainability part of your culture

Sustainability cannot just be a few sentences in your mission statement. Instead, it should emanate from everything you do, from staff training to overall company culture. Without this emphasis on your entire milieu, your written protocols will exist on paper only.

Keep your suppliers in the loop

Just as your employees must buy into your sustainability scheme, so should the vendors with whom you have commerce. To that end, be sure that you communicate how your company is working toward the goal of sustainability. Hold vendors to your standards by performing regular audits and enforcing the codes of conduct you have set.

Incorporate innovative technology

Thanks to artificial intelligence, machine learning and other digital developments, you have more control than ever over your supply chain processes. Use them to analyze, measure and optimize your operational processes. By so doing, you can get a much better handle on inventory and order management as well as transportation logistics.

Collaborate with rivals

If this sounds counterintuitive, it actually isn’t. After all, sustainability is an industry-wide priority. Your willingness to work as a team with your competition can be beneficial in two ways. First, as is the case with teamwork in general, two heads are often better than one, leading to a richer fund of ideas and solutions. Furthermore, the public will see your team effort as a demonstration of all parties’ commitment to sustainability efforts.

In order for a company to remain successful for the long haul, a laser focus should be placed on the sustainability of its practices. Taking the time to scrutinize all of your supply chain processes and procedures, inculcate your goals into your company culture, make your suppliers aware, use cutting-edge technology and to collaborate with others in your industry are all essential parts of a long-term supply chain sustainability plan. Practicing it will demonstrate to every stakeholder that you are committed to putting theory into action.