Why be part of a Supply Chain that is Environmentally Sustainable?

The environmental impacts from supply chains include high energy use, abundant greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous wastes and air emissions, water consumption and wastewater generation. Planetary impacts from using natural resources in supply chains can certainly create deforestation, a loss of biodiversity and permanent damage to ecosystems. With our global economy today, the affects of doing business can have devastating results if these parties are unaware of the activities of their suppliers, whom they rely on, especially in regions of the world where regulations are minimal or unenforced and natural resources are taken for granted. Relationships exist in the supply chain and companies should work with their suppliers to ensure environmental impacts are minimal. Other benefits are realized including those below:

  • Provide value to customers
  • Retain and grow customer base
  • Save Costs
  • Improve Productivity
  • Create product differentiation in the marketplace
  • Design innovative products through collaboration
  • Provide a beneficial /  value-centered employee experience
  • Gain recognition as an industry leader
  • Protect the environment and conserve resources

How do you determine your environmental sustainability as a manufacturer?

A company can determine how environmentally sustainable they are by measuring the impacts they have on the environment due to their operations and purchasing choices.

By utilizing a Lean Manufacturing or Six Sigma approach, the steps of “DMAIC” (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) can be used to assess and improve environmental performance as a Sustainability Management Cycle.

The Sustainability Management Cycle, using DMAIC as the foundation, involves the following as a continuous cycle towards improvement:

  • The goals for a Sustainable Management program, including supply chain, will be Defined and a plan to achieve them will be established.
  • The company is looked at as a “system” with inputs and outputs which are then Measured.
  • Critical areas or activities having the greatest environmental impact are prioritized and Analyzed for improvement opportunities and action plans are created.
  • At this stage, the company is able to Report on their goals, measurements, and action plans to their customers and stakeholders.  This provides transparency which is becoming an expectation by customers and the public. Communicating the value and benefits of these goals and actions may be done through Marketing, such as on the company’s website or social media.
  • Solutions are developed to Improve the company’s environmental impact, reduce risk, and become more sustainable.
  • Once improvements are implemented, the company is able to Control their impacts through monitoring, training and documentation.
  • Continuous improvement is made by evaluating the current state and assessing these same stages on a periodic basis

Further information, resources, and links for each of these Sustainability Management Cycle stages can be found on the “Supplier Continuous Improvement” page.

The Sustainability Management Cycle process, as used by NYSP2I, can be followed by any company hoping to make their own operations more sustainable, enabling their improved responses to customer scorecards, and generating a periodic sustainability report for stakeholders.  A company desiring to establish their own supplier requirements may wish to use the Sustainable Management Cycle process to establish a supplier scorecard and measure their supplier’s performance.

The NYSP2I assists companies with understanding their operations by looking through a “green lens”.  NYSP2I will first work with the company to determine the company’s sustainability goals based on generally accepted sustainability guidance, with a focus on industry-level initiatives.