Business management

The Royal Bank Business Show Sustainability Special: How can businesses build sustainable chains in disruptive times?

This week in our sustainability special podcast series, Angellica Bell hears the case for sustainable supply chains as businesses look to reduce emissions.

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Please note that the views and information have not been endorsed, issued or approved by The Royal Bank of Scotland. Any views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Need a quick summary? Here are some key takeaways on building sustainable supply chains.

1. Be realistic about your sustainable supply chain goals

Whether your business is large or small, public or private, sustainability is a complicated issue so it’s important to prioritise and focus. It’s not just about being eco too; it’s about sustainable business too: what actions can you take that mean you’ll still be here in five or 10 years’ time?  Is it the energy you use in your supply chain, the transport you have, or the packaging you use?

Look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals for ideas and identify where can you focus your efforts on the budget you have. Have realistic targets and ensure your strategy is robust and has a rigour to it.

2. Transparency is key

Consumers are more aware where their products come from. They appreciate they can’t just buy a cheap product and expect it to be the most sustainable option. They will make a considered choice to buy something truly sustainable or to stay with, for example, a single-use plastic alternative. From the minute your product is made to when it reaches the customer, are the people involved following ethical procedures?

3. Understand what your stakeholders want

Sustainability is a blend of environmental, social and economic. Do you understand your strategy and focus for these three pillars? Think about what outcomes you are trying to achieve. Have you done the research? Have you done market engagement? Having a strategy, approach and direction can help build confidence.

4. Collaborate on sustainability

A sustainable supply chain can bolster resilience and business continuity. You could win new work with your customers and clients in terms of reputation. Rather than working in isolation, businesses need to work up and down the value chain to drive sustainability together

5. Try to stay local

Keep your supply chain as local as possible. Consider paying a premium to work with suppliers that understand your requirements or follow strict due diligence processes themselves. Decide whether you’re happy to pay that extra 30% to work with a company that is interested in the environment and has sustainability goals.

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