How to Choose Suppliers That Share Your Sustainability Vision

Author: Sarah Shannon
Date:  March 26, 2024

Making your supply chain more sustainable is a smart move. It's better for the planet and can boost your business too. Here’s 7 points to consider when shifting to a more sustainable supply chain: 

Step 1: Check Your Supply Chain 

  • Look at What You Do: Start by checking how your supply chain works. See where you might be wasting resources or harming the environment. 
  • Talk to People: Ask your suppliers, customers, and team what they think can be better. They may already be working on initiatives that will help your organisation reduce your impact on the planet. Find out if there are ways to ask the relevant ESG questions during the procurement process.  

Step 2: Make Clear Goals 

  • Decide on Your Company Goals: After checking your supply chain, decide on some clear goals to make it more sustainable – communicate these back to your suppliers so they are on the same page as you. 
  • Plan Your Steps: Plan how to reach these goals. Identify if you have the right resources (skilled/knowledgeable team and time). Decide who does what and when - or do you need to outsource to get the right skills.  

Step 3: Choose Suppliers aligned with your goals 

  • Pick Sustainable Suppliers: Work with suppliers who care about the environment – not just greenwashing but genuinely are making strides to be better for the planet and people. Don’t just check their about us page – ask to see their policies and ISO credentials. For example check the company procedures for handling hazardous labour conditions or disposal of waste. 
  • Work Together: Help your suppliers get better at being sustainable too. Don’t just focus on the top tier of suppliers - the biggest risks can be further down the supply chain. Lower tier suppliers without sustainability knowledge and resources can increase companies' exposure to financial, social and environmental risks.  Are you putting extra pressure on the supplier to meet deadlines, lower prices so they are forced to cut corners? Talk to them - look at new deadlines and quantities to avoid exceeding labour hours or using cheaper more wasteful products to meet tight deadlines.  

Step 4: Use Less and Waste Less 

  • Cut Down on Emissions: Try to lower pollution from transporting goods. Use fewer polluting ways to move products around. Can you buy locally? 
  • Reduce Waste: Find ways to use less plastic, like packaging. Try to reuse and recycle more or source alternative biodegradable packaging. 

Step 5: Keep Track and Share 

  • Watch Your Progress: Set KPIs to track how well you are doing with your sustainable goals.  
  • Be Open: Tell your customers and team about your efforts. Share your successes and challenges. 

Step 6: Build a Sustainability Team 

  • Involve Everyone: Make sure everyone in your company knows about your sustainability goals and how they can help. You can share this in team and public digital channels - open an employee forum to engage passionate sustainability champions from across the business who will spread the word.  
  • Keep Getting Better: Always look for new ways to be more sustainable. Encourage new ideas. More people and workers want businesses to be more sustainable, plus regulations are changing to drive this too. So new eco-friendly choices are coming out, and the ones we already have are getting cheaper. This makes it easier for businesses to use sustainable solutions without overspending and impacting the bottom line. 

Step 7: Use Smart Tech 

  • Try New Things: Use technology that can make your supply chain more efficient and less harmful to the environment. Pulse Market is making it easy to engage the supply chain, collect data and policies so you can validate claims while categorising and identifying your more responsible suppliers (and less responsible) 
  • Think Outside the Box: Let your sustainable goals inspire new products or services. 

Making your supply chain more sustainable is an iterative process that involves careful planning and commitment from both your organisation and your suppliers. By engaging your suppliers in a meaningful and measurable way it will benefit not just the environment, but also your business's bottom line. The key is to gather the right data to get meaningful insights that lead to actionable steps. Every effort counts!  

Talk to the Pulse Market team and learn how you can engage your suppliers on our platform.  

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