Making the supply chain sustainable
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Making the supply chain sustainable

A supply chain must be efficient in order to contribute to economic success. The last few years have brought many changes. Sustainability strategies have long since become an integral part of many companies’ operations. Today, the focus is no longer only on production and recycling, but also encompasses the entire development and design of sustainable and responsible supply chains. It is becoming clear that value-added supply chain management is becoming increasingly important and can make the difference in the global competitive environment. But what does a sustainable supply chain look like? How can it be established in the first place, and what needs to be taken into account?

What constitutes a sustainable supply chain?

Making a supply chain sustainable – what does that actually mean? If a company wants to meet its responsibilities, it must consider its entire value chain, from the selection of suppliers to the transport of the product or service. In this context, the supply chain process is extensive and encompasses the entire process, while logistics is only one part of it. If a company strives for a sustainable supply chain, all phases of value creation take place under social, environmental and ethical aspects while at the same time providing economic benefits to all parties involved in the chain. However, the network of suppliers, production sites, warehouses, logistics service providers, partners and customers is becoming more and more complex and companies are increasingly faced with the challenge of bringing a sustainable supply chain in line with the high demands of the market and the increasing competitive pressure. Higher, faster, further and more flexible, but only with the label “sustainably sensible”.

The fact that setting up or restructuring a sustainable supply chain is worthwhile is not only reflected in a clear conscience.

What are the advantages of a sustainable supply chain?

Customers are placing more and more value on the processes behind a product. New generations are increasingly interested in corporate ethics and sustainable business practices. These factors already influence a large number of purchasing decisions. And the trend is rising. Companies must adapt to the new expectations of target groups in order to hold their own on the market in the long term. Sustainable and transparent supply chains contribute to economic success.

But it is not only customers’ expectations that have grown. If they rate the image of a company with a sustainable supply chain highly, they are willing to spend more money. Under this condition, higher prices can be achieved on the market.

Those who design supply chains efficiently with strategically thought-out and sustainable supply chain management, also known as sustainable supply chain management, save costs through reduced resource consumption, leaner processes and lower energy consumption.

Ultimately, an unmistakable reason is compliance and consideration of legislation as well as guidelines for sustainable action.

How can a supply chain be made sustainable?

First of all, there is a clear decision by the management to design a sustainable supply chain and to assume its own responsibility. This should be written down in a vision, goals and a mission statement. This is followed by an inventory of all phases of the current supply chain. These start with the production of raw materials from suppliers and end with recycling after production, delivery and use by the customer. To this end, it makes sense to set up a working group that can devote itself entirely to the project. Subsequently, ideas are developed to make the individual phases more sustainable. Considerations for this include:

  • Human rights
  • working conditions
  • environmental protection
  • Integrity and incorruptibility

On this basis, a sustainability strategy is developed that defines clear actions and implementation measures in addition to targets. To ensure that all activities are measurable at the end, defined key performance indicators are required. The final step is implementation, followed by continuous review and, if necessary, meaningful optimization.

Examples of implementation could be the formulation of criteria in procurement or the performance of audits at suppliers. Sustainable measures can be included in supply contracts and the selection of logistics partners can be adapted. Partners like us at ECL set high standards for future-oriented and innovative logistics on land, by sea freight or air freight. We use state-of-the-art logistics tools, work with progressive forwarders and offer customized services that take sustainability into account. The ECL team develops a logistics process for you, taking into account the efficient handling of goods – we avoid conventionally unnecessary stops and delivery routes.

A sustainable supply chain is communicated transparently to the outside world. Expert opinions, analyses, traceability systems and quality seals give the consumer insight into the sustainable corporate structure. Well-known and trusted seals of approval include the Blue Angel, the EU organic label, OekoTex Standard 100, ISO standard or FSC.

Implement sustainable supply chain with strategy

A sustainable supply chain brings some key benefits and meets the high demands of customers, which will continue to increase in the future. Companies gain competitive advantages with strategic sustainable supply chain management, achieve cost reductions, uncover optimization potential, use resources more profitably and maintain a positive image, which in turn is attractive to skilled workers. Risk and supplier management also benefit. It is a good time to make supply chains sustainable. When it comes to logistics, ECL’s services are the right choice.

ECL Kontor is an international logistics company established in 2004 with roots in customs clearance and transport organisation.

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