Three quarters of executives expect increased focus on sustainability

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
25 May 2014

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26 May 2014 | Will Green

More than three quarters of supply chain executives and operations managers predict their organisations will increase their focus on sustainability over the next three years, according to a survey.

The poll, conducted by PwC and the APICS Foundation, found 43 per cent of respondents attributed cost reduction to supply chain sustainability initiatives and 35 per cent reported improvements in their company’s environmental impact.

However, the survey found the biggest barriers to the success of sustainable practices was a lack of leadership support, the fact the impact on shareholder value was not measurable, and “significant confusion" about company goals on sustainable supply chains.

Some 38 per cent of executives said their customers were not asking for supply chain sustainability and a third said there was no “truly global or recognised standards to benchmark companies against”. Just over a fifth of respondents said they had seen no value from sustainability initiatives over the past two years.

Sharon Rice, executive director at the APICS Foundation, said: “It is widely accepted that supply chain sustainability is a priority for many CEOs, but this is a complex business issue that brings with it multifaceted challenges at the management level.

“This study identifies patterns in the challenges that arise, helps us understand why these barriers remain, and underscores how supply chain sustainability translates into measurable business value.”

Nic Delaye, a director in PwC’s Sustainable Business Solutions practice, said: “There is a clear correlation – and in some instances causality – between sustainability and supply chain performance for companies who believe they can do well by doing good.

“Companies should aim to better understand the major dynamics of supply chain sustainability and how to overcome the obstacles that traditionally arise, in order to both improve their impact on society and create tangible business value in new ways.”

The survey included 162 responses from APICS members.

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