'Long way to go' for construction supply chain school

15 May 2018

The Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS) said a survey of its partners has shown it is having a positive impact on sustainability in the built environment.

The school, which is a collaboration between major construction clients, contractors and first tier suppliers to improve the sustainability of the sector’s supply chain, surveyed of 597 member organisations.

It found nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents reported an improvement in their understanding of modern slavery in 2017-18. Of these 81% said SCSS had helped them improve.

It also found nearly half (49%) reported a better understanding of responsible sourcing and 45% reported an increased level of community engagement, of which 81% and 61% respectively said SCSS had helped.

But SCSS acknowledge that there was still more to be done, particularly on the issue of modern slavery. Refering to a critical report released yesterday, Helen Carter, lead consultant for sustainable procurement and modern slavery at SCSS, said: “The new [Chartered Institute of Building] report now challenges the industry to start moving beyond awareness-raising.

“Whilst I still see the conversation focusing on awareness, there is undoubtedly an increasing desire to understand pragmatic actions that address the issue.”

The survey also found other areas that needed improvement. Less that one in five (18%) of respondents said they had reduced their water consumption, and only 15% had made improvements on issues of air quality.

Shaun McCarthy, chair of SCSS, said: “As well as providing a critical assessment of the positive impact of learning and support delivered by school itself, the survey also serves as something of a snapshot of the state of sustainability along the length of the entire construction supply chain.

“For all the undoubted progress made together, there remains much still to do and a long way to go to help build an industry fit for the future.”

Dale Turner, director of procurement and supply chain at Skanska UK, one of SCSS’s partner organisations, said: “One of the current key challenges in our industry is providing greater transparency through the tiers of our supply chain.

“The school’s resources are having a positive effect on modern slavery knowledge and increasing the focus on continuous improvement in this area. It’s also really encouraging to see improvement in responsible sourcing.”

Ian Heasman, director of sustainability at Taylor Wimpey, another partner, said the report highlighted changes ahead. “[These] include how to translate the benefits to individual client organisations, and how to increase impact at sectorial and industry-wide levels,” he said.

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