In recent years, we have seen how supply chains played an important role in many large corporations’ wider sustainability strategies. As these big businesses now thrive and reap the fruits of their sustainability efforts, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are now at the receiving end of increasing supply chain pressures triggered by issues like resource depletion. The stakeholders of these SMEs also have a growing concern over corporate ethics and policies. Moreover, SMEs bear the brunt of external pressures from customers who now “demand” to know more about their business, products, services and even corporate social responsibility initiatives.

According to Edie Energy last year, small firms needed to implement resource risk strategies or be at the mercy of supply chain pressures that could ultimately put them out of business. Early this year, about 25% of SMEs have confirmed that sustainability will be one of their top three priorities. In other related news, the Maidenhead Advertiser reported that on a survey conducted among SMEs regarding their sustainability practices, 87% of SME organizations that have implemented sustainable business practices say there are benefits such as reduced costs, increased profitability or positively affecting the environment.

Greening is not enough!

Most SMEs prefer to undertake “traditional green activities” that include recycling and energy efficiency, but what they do not realize is that these initiatives create lesser impacts despite the amount of effort placed on such initiatives when compared to broader sustainability practices. Hence, it is recommended by Lloyds Banking Group’s external relations director, Stephen Pegge, that SMEs should also define sustainability to also mean “interacting with charities, social enterprises and the community in which they operate; working responsibly within their supply chain and engaging with the next generation through, for example, apprenticeship schemes.”

Create a Sustainable Supply Chain 

Corporate sustainability experts play an important role in starting and maintaining sustainable supply chain management. This development usually begins with an analysis of the entire supply chain process. An analysis of the entire supply chain gamut with open opportunities to improve and impact both the company’s economic and environmental goals. Supply chain management can mean creating partnerships with suppliers to provice sustainable raw materials or equipment, and even innovating to create a more sustainable production line process. To create a sustainable supply chain and sourcing process means having a clear business code of conduct – a standard set of rules that is geared towards improving a company’s triple-bottom-line:  PEOPLE, PLANET AND PROFIT. Every effort or initiative should contribute to protecting the people and preserving natural resources while ensuring revenues remain intact.

It also means the business has to work responsibly within a supply chain and to operate an ethical sourcing policy that provides a moral compass on how a business organization should work under ordinary or extra-special circumstances at all costs. When all these are in place, a company’s sustainable supply chain will not only help reduce costs and optimize operations, but it will also help analyze the environmental impacts of production, procurement and delivery of a product or even a service.

FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) can help organizations maximize their sustainability initiatives throughout the supply chain. FCS offers lifecycle assessments, supplier scorecards, and carbon accounting to trace emission levels and inefficiencies across supply chains. Aside from cutting costs with FCS’ supply chain services, companies can also help expand profit margins along with inspiring product and supply chain redesign. FCS’ Sustainability Solutions help companies effectively manage climate performance, carbon emissions, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting through its strong partnership with CDP. Read the Our Perspective article on how SMEs can gain the competitive advantage in the latest issue of FCS’ e-newsletter – Greenwatch; or click on the link below to speak to one of our experts.

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