Sustainable supply chain: how to build it?
At the beginning of March 2011, McDonald’s announced its Sustainable Land Management Commitment (SLMC), a long-term plan to ensure the corporation only serves food (and uses packaging) certified as sustainably sourced. The initial focus is on five high impact products: beef, poultry, coffee, palm oil and packaging. McDonald’s certainly have all the power to be able to win negotiations with suppliers and reach its goals, but what about small retailers who are buying from overseas?
Shirahime, a UK based ethical fashion consultancy, has published a guide to responsibly sourcing textiles and clothes from India.
Despite its narrow country and industry focus, the guide is packed with advice for any business looking to find responsible goods or services suppliers from overseas. Here’s an excerpt of the Shiraname’s guide.
Be clear about the outcomes you want to achieve
Define aims clearly and build a strategy around the outcomes you want to achieve. Don’t look exclusively for suppliers who have certification. Certification is a costly process and may not guarantee the specific outcomes youwant.
Instead, visit potential suppliers and examine their operations for yourself. If you do this, make sure you have a suitable translator and cultural liaison who can guide your decision making process. In addition, start networking, even if it’s with your competitors. If you do this up front it can vastly increase your chances of success in finding the right supplier.
Consider company size alongside business practices
There can be a correlation between a supplier’s size, the goods or services it provides, and its ability to operate responsibly.
As a broad rule of thumb, the larger the company the more comprehensive their offering will be. Yet the larger the company, the more likely it is that their business is focussed upon financial efficiency, not responsible practice. Therefore, if you’re looking for a responsible supplier it may be worth choosing smaller producers rather than bulk providers as your partners.
Consider alternatives to your preferred goods, service or country
In order to get the most responsible procurement deal, businesses have to change their mindset and be open minded about both the country of origin and the goods or service they’re looking to procure.
Be prepared to invest as well as purchase
Businesses need to think about how they can contribute long term value to their suppliers’ enterprise beyond a simple commercial deal. This is where the value of being clear in your outcomes and partnering with other companies can yield substantial benefits. (Source: Guardian.co.uk)