Jul 15, 2020

How to engage your supply chain in the responsible sourcing of materials

Having carried out several supply chain surveys for our clients, we have been pretty disappointed with the results in the responsible materials section.  Although there seems to be some anecdotal successes, there is a lack of a consistent metric that enables organisations to measure progress towards an end goal of 100% responsibly sourced materials. As a result of this situation we have developed a methodology that will help.  But first some benefits of engaging the supply chain on this topic:

  • The best responsible materials standards result in good environmental performance and good treatment of workers

  • A fairly easy win for sustainability – your suppliers will make the improvements and you gain the benefits

  • Your staff can clearly see your engagement which helps with retention and recruitment

  • Potential for cost savings for your organisation

  • Helps deal with the tricky topic of embodied energy in materials

Here is how we suggest you proceed:

Initially, it may be difficult for suppliers to substantiate their figures.  However, they in turn could survey their suppliers and find out the degree to which the materials have been produced in line with various accreditation schemes.  The table below lists some of the accreditation schemes available:

Over time, suppliers will gain better information and be able to share with their stakeholders and customers which will benefit them too.  It may not happen in the first or second year, but eventually good data will emerge and the whole sector can progress to 100% responsibly sourced materials.

The SHIFT environmental accreditation has a section dedicated to the supply chain including responsible sourcing, CO2 emissions and waste. We also have considerable experience delivering supplier engagement exercises and have a wealth of sector-specific benchmarking data and data quality matrix templates. If you would like to know more about the SHIFT environmental assessment or our specific supply chain work, please get in touch here.


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