Neo-ecology might just be the solution that is needed to improve the sustainability of the supply chain, says Courtney OKeefe, Chief Supply Chain Officer of Hologenix. She discusses what the key elements of neo-ecology are, how they can help improve the supply chain and shares why it’s important to embrace this new mindset around the consumption of goods.
The first advantage to moving toward a fully transparent, wholly sustainable supply chain involves attracting and keeping consumers. Study after study shows that buyers – especially younger ones – support green brands. Additionally, shoppers expect to weigh more than just price to judge an item’s value. As such, they’re diving deeper into how raw materials have been extracted, processed, manufactured, packaged, stored and even shipped.
Another upside to constructing sustainable supply chains is that it reduces the environmental impact of selling goods, from toys to technology. And that’s surprisingly good for profitability.
Governments and intergovernmental organizations around the globe are urging forward-leaning companies to implement greener supply chains and practices now rather than waiting. At the same time, they’re hitting some decidedly non-environmental organizations with fines. Consequently, staying on the leading edge of the neo-ecology movement can mean an increase in capital over time.
Ultimately, supply chain sustainability backed by neo-ecology beliefs are practices that should be seen as investments. They’re investments in the business, in humanity and the planet.
Putting a Sustainable Supply Chain Into Action
Small businesses, midsize companies and enterprise-level corporations can all follow the same road map to improve sustainability within their supply chains. Here are three suggestions:
1. Measure Your Company’s Triple Bottom Line
The concept of triple bottom line sustainability is that a business’s bottom line consists of three Ps: the planet, the people affected by the company and the classic capitalist vision of profit.
By measuring the three Ps in business through triple bottom line-oriented accounting, organizations can better see the impact, influence and range of how their neo-ecology principles play out. With a single glance, leaders can observe their firm’s financial performance, which will always be an essential metric. At the same time, they can better visualize the value received by shareholders and stakeholders.
Moving forward with a triple bottom line accounting approach requires an adjustment. Nevertheless, it can be highly revealing for any company that’s hoping to become a sustainability leader. After all, the three Ps will be impacted by changes to supply chain vendors and expectations.
2. Maintain a View of the Long “Green Game”
Often, green initiatives that could fall under the auspices of neo-ecology might seem too overwhelming or costly for businesses to implement. Therefore, reevaluating a supply chain might be put on the back burner – possibly indefinitely.
When done well, sustainability must first be approached from a 35,000-foot view. That way, the end goals are clear from the outset. Once those strategic objectives are in place, plans can be designed so the company can move toward those goals.
For example, a company’s desire for a 100% eco-friendly supply chain within five years might be one target. Knowing this, teams and departments can synchronize shorter-term responsibilities accordingly. With thoughtful, consistent monitoring across the organization, longer-term “green game” goals are more achievable.
3. Choose Like-Minded Supply Chain Partners.
Businesses can also expect to be judged on their sustainability efforts by the partners with whom they surround themselves. This includes, of course, their supply chain vendors. After all, today’s conscientious consumers are looking harder than ever at whether brands’ values and corresponding decisions align with their own. They’re very savvy, too, and willing to give their opinions on the information they discover.
How can companies vet the parties that make up their supply chains? A good first move is to know their corporate sustainability values. Using those values as a springboard, they can pursue partnerships with firms that offer matching purposes.
For example, my company launched a new product that was embedded into polyester. As we worked on our corporate sustainability road map and goals, we began collaborating with new carriers of products, such as recycled polyester and plant-based viscose. Of course, it’s important to remember that it might be necessary to break ties with some current supply chain members in favor of alternate partners that are a better fit.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and constructing a sustainable supply chain can’t be expected to happen overnight, either. However, small steps and actions will add up over time and contribute to the progress of any organization serious about neo-ecology as part of its sustainable supply chain management.