Taskforce launched to reduce impact of global supply chains

22 July 2019

The Global Resource Initiative (GRI) taskforce has been launched to make “the UK a leader on supply chain sustainability” across the private, public and NGO sectors.

A group of 17 sustainability leaders from the public and private sectors have joined forces to reduce the environmental footprint of global supply chains. 

The taskforce expects to hold three main meetings in the next year to discuss actions and gather wider input from additional research groups and industry experts. A report is due at the end of the year.

Thérèse Coffey, parliamentary under-secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said: “The GRI taskforce will put forward recommendations for how key sectors and stakeholders can best achieve the transformative change necessary to realise the GRI ambition on sustainable supply chains.

“Palm oil and ​cocoa are key commodities for which viable measures of sustainability already exist. The taskforce will look at a wider range of key commodities and supply chain measures.”

The GRI is chaired by Barclays UK’s Sir Ian Cheshire, and includes members representing different sectors, including Tesco, Unilever, Legal & General, the Green Finance Institute, Cargill, McDonald’s, and NGOs WWF-UK and the Forest Coalition.    

A final report is expected in 2020 with a series of environmental summits to determine global policies. 

The GRI is supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for International Development.

It is part of the UK’s 25-Year Environment Plan to improve the country’s carbon footprint and meet existing commitments towards zero green-house gasses by 2050. 

Beth Hart, director of supply chain at McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “At McDonald’s we are focused on using our scale for good in order to reduce our environmental impact. For example, globally by 2030, in partnership with our suppliers, we have committed to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity across our global supply chain. Working with our suppliers, we also have a commitment to eliminating deforestation from our global supply chains by 2030.

“The GRI taskforce presents the opportunity to further identify and address some of the biggest challenges we all face in partnership, and we look forward to collaborating across industry and various centres of excellence to continue to reduce our environmental impact.”

Meanwhile, the government has funded £60m towards an investment to cut waste in supply chains and find new materials for packaging and plastic, including wood chippings, food waste and plants. The private sector is expected to provide an additional £149m, making the funding project one of the biggest boosts to research and development in UK history, according to the government.

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