Lack of data hampers supply chain sustainability monitoring

1 August 2012

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1 August 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha

Almost two-thirds of sustainability and procurement executives – 62 per cent – believe their ability to monitor supply chain sustainability is being impaired due to a lack of data, according to a survey from Green Research.

The Sustainability in the Supply Chain: Best Practices, Tools and Trends report found 81 per cent of respondents will be asking suppliers for more information in the coming year.

When questioned: Which three reasons presented a challenge to obtaining data for supply chain sustainability?, a lack of standard methods for measuring environmental performance was cited by 62 per cent of respondents, 50 per cent believed data was unreliable, and 27 per cent said suppliers did not provide requested data.

The two most popular responses to the question of what type of supplier sustainability data was made available to companies were 75 per cent saying it came from documents including spreadsheets and proposals, followed by 38 per cent who said they were referred to sustainability reports.

The report found 64 per cent of respondents thought they had power to influence a supplier’s sustainability behaviour. And the majority of participants (84 per cent) also felt suppliers’ environmental behaviour could be improved without sacrificing their business goals.

It went on to say companies were primarily motivated by risk management and enhancing brand reputation when implementing supply chain sustainability initiatives, with reduced costs pushed into third place. The report added that companies believe by helping suppliers reduce costs they too will go on to benefit from savings.

The research recommended adopting best practices such as educating suppliers, enlisting buyers and sourcing managers and calculating the environmental impact of costs.

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