How a supply chain data partnership is helping buyers fight greenwashing

The Ordnance Survey has established a supply chain data partnership that tracks the locations of facilities and farms across the globe to increase resilience to climate change and prevent greenwashing.

The international mapping agency is using location data to certify asset locations including farms, facilities and factories for commodities such as palm oil, soy, cotton, rubber, paper and wood-based packaging applications.

This certification will demonstrate to buyers and investors that an asset owner is “willing to be transparent and be monitored”. This will help tackle greenwashing by ensuring “efficient and trustworthy sustainability reporting” as well as allowing investors to avoid potential risks while identifying opportunities for green, sustainable investment.

Ordnance Survey strategic market lead, Donna Lyndsay, said: “We want to demonstrate how location data and technology helps sustainability initiatives succeed by providing accuracy when it comes to monitoring, analysing, and modelling solutions that will help get us one step closer to a sustainable and prosperous future. 

“The current methods of visibility of the supply chain are no longer enough to meet regulatory requirements and customer expectations. Our aim is that the Supply Chain Data Partnership (SCDP) will shine a light on the darker areas of the supply chain and better support due diligence in certification and sustainability claims.”

The project is currently undertaking a short-term pilot in Brazil and Iowa in the US, where it is testing out establishment of assets such as mills, refineries, storage and transport terminals. The pilot is focused on how much of the certification can be automated, and whether secondary ground verification is required.

A spokesperson for OS told Supply Management the complexities in global supply chains – such as in the food industry – have complicated efforts to “transform the industry and stop deforestation, improve transparency and traceability, and support farmers, especially smallholders, to adopt more sustainable practices”.

It pointed out the impact of palm oil production on the environment as one example of the damage improperly tracked facilities can cause.

“The ambition of the SCDP is to establish a trusted and scalable method for gathering supplier data across the globe, that allows global brands to engage with responsible suppliers to help expand their own sustainability and responsibility goals. 

“This will assist with reducing emissions, biodiversity loss and environmental impact of supply chains, reduce unsustainable agricultural practices and land degradation through more effective monitoring and smart procurement contracts.”

These challenges extend to textiles and fashion, the spokesperson added, and the partnership also aims to track the location of textile production sites, garment worker conditions, where raw materials are grown and picked, to where finished goods are made and shipped from.

Collected data and certificates will be put into an international registry with open access.

The OS is working in collaboration with mapping analyst Esri UK, consultancy Deloitte and satellite imagery archive Planet Labs PBC, with support from supply chain transparency initiative Trase.

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