Consumers, corporate citizenry and regulation drive the demand for sustainable business practices
The last couple of years have undoubtedly been both extremely hopeful for sustainable business practices. The Paris Agreement was ratiﬁed faster than any other similar pact in history, and globally more and more organisations have taken real strides towards their goals of renewable and sustainable business practices. Locally, South African businesses and consumers alike are anticipating the introduction of the long-promised Carbon Tax Bill, which will see penalties levied against excessive carbon emissions.
Added to regulatory demands, is the increasing consumer awareness driving purchasing behaviour favouring products and services that are sustainably sourced, handled and distributed. This trend has seen an unabated rise in the availability of so-called Green-goods, as well as organisations beginning to transparently publish every process involved in the production of their products. A clear starting point for organisations aiming for more sustainable business practices overall is to evaluate and improve the green credentials of their supply chain processes and partners.
According to Sarah Lubbe, Communications Manager at Barloworld Logistics, supply chain organisations are ideally positioned to make an immediate and powerful impact on not only their own environmental footprints - but also those of their clients. In the medium and long-term, smart supply chain solutions providers can ultimately unlock valuable cost savings to clients by pursuing innovative and integrated sustainability measures, as well as making a real diﬀerence to the environment.
“Sustainable business practices are no longer simply theoretical “do-gooder” requirements, but real drivers of value within organisations”, says Lubbe. “From a reputational perspective, it is hugely important to truly live the values of sustainability – from the sourcing of raw material, through labour practices and facility management, right until the point of disposal – the footprint we leave behind should not scar the planet, but preserve and renew”.
A starting point to driving more sustainable practices woven into the fabric of everyday business operations is to carefully evaluate one's supply chain and create a benchmark footprint against which to measure all initiatives. As a business, it’s critical to understand what your crucial energy drivers are and where the hot spots lie. In most cases, transportation is a huge element and leaves the most signiﬁcant footprint, however less obvious factors such as water usage within warehousing, or waste handling can be relatively quickly corrected once identiﬁed.
“As an organisation driven by sustainable business practices, our transport division has implemented an array of initiatives to manage our eﬀect on the environment, however, focusing solely on the transport leg of one’s supply chain may not be enough”, states Lubbe. “Environmental damage can arise from unexpected places, and while much attention has been paid to carbon emissions, water usage, waste disposal and electricity usage all contribute to the overall sustainability of an organisations supply chain.”
Sustainable supply chain solutions are not a ‘cut and paste’ exercise, and one needs to work with supply chain specialists that can innovate and tailor make solutions to speciﬁc scenarios. Admittedly, the volatile and uncertain economic environment is making it very difficult for businesses to invest in new technology and expertise to drive the sustainability agenda – yet there are many ‘small wins’ that can translate into cost savings.