The Paris Climate Agreement set the stage for world-wide climate action, calling for steps to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius lower than pre-industrial levels. With clear, science-based targets, business leaders have a challenge. They must find green supply chain solutions and respond to the rapidly changing demands of customers and the societal shift towards a circular economy.
“Our recent study showed that more than half of shoppers in both Canada and the U.S. are more likely to support companies who are striving to incorporate sustainability into their practice.” - Lisa Covens, VP of Communications and Public Affairs, Leger
In celebration of Earth Day, Purolator held a virtual round table discussion with sustainability thought leaders from multinational companies to answer this question: How are companies enabling a more sustainable supply chain?
To view the full discussion, you can watch the webcast or read on to learn some of the key tips and takeaways from the sustainability experts.
Setting the right sustainability goals for a greener supply chain
Your organization might be considering corporate sustainability goals, but wondering just how hard it is to implement meaningful change across your company. It can be helpful to have examples of corporate sustainability initiatives to look to for inspiration. IKEA Canada has committed to being planet positive by 2030 and they’ve set a goal to achieve 100% zero emissions for home deliveries by 2025. Each year, they reassess and set new targets to help move the needle forward to meet their 2025 target. “We’ve already launched our first zero-emissions home deliveries in Canada. It certainly hasn’t been without a few bumps in the road, but we all continue to work together, and it’s something we take great pride in,” said Crystal, Customer Fulfillment Sourcing Manager for IKEA Canada.
When it comes to goal setting at BGIS, Alison emphasized the importance of understanding the “greenhouse gas emissions pie”— essentially the breakdown of emissions by the main parts of your business. As a global facility management service provider, BGIS’s emissions profile looks different than other businesses. Their footprint consists of their offices, employee travel, vehicle fleets and their biggest impact area — the facilities they manage for their clients. Understanding your company’s unique breakdown will help you set goals that focus on the areas of business that will drive the hardest impact when designing practices for a green supply chain. For a full breakdown of sustainable business management best practices by category, including packaging tips and delivery and return considerations, check out our comprehensive checklist.
Holding your vendors and partners to a high standard
The largest emissions might not be in your operational boundary (what you can control), but rather in what are considered upstream and downstream emissions, and that may be working with partners and vendors.
To support achieving IKEA’s goal of 100% zero emissions by 2025, Crystal and her team needed to take a firm position when liaising with existing or new service providers. By clearly communicating their sustainability targets of zero-emission home deliveries, Crystal found vendors were not only happy to work with IKEA to meet their standards, but they were also motivated to accelerate their own sustainability plans for a greener supply chain.
In a nutshell: Your goals should be…
- Rooted in science (and not arbitrarily set!)
- Based on your “emissions pie” and where you’ll make the biggest impact
- Communicated to your suppliers so they are held to the same high standard
“For businesses to be resilient, attract top talent and meet the growing expectations of their customers, they need to take a hard look at what environmental sustainability means to them, and how they position themselves for the future.” - Cindy Bailey, Director of Corporate Sustainability at Purolator
How to gain buy-in across your organization
Integrating social and environmental responsibility across your organization starts with your company’s core values. “At BGIS, we view sustainability as a mindset, not an initiative,” said Alison. One of the big success factors in building buy-in across the company is team member training and engagement across all business lines and creating a call-to-action that gives each individual some ownership and role to play in achieving the company’s corporate sustainability goals.
For IKEA, the goal of “caring for people and the planet” was set at the global level. By having this sustainability pillar come from the top down, teams are empowered to consider sustainability every day in every single action they take.
How to navigate inflation and supply chain delays to ensure your goals remain on track
Supply chain delays and inflation have an inevitable effect on sustainability goals. The supply chain delays that were exacerbated by COVID-19 had an impact. For Crystal, this meant having to react quickly, adjust budgets and have patience. “It’s about aiming to impact what’s in your control, staying focused, flexible and moving forward.” To stay ahead, it’s important to build that flexibility right into your organization’s business modeling and know that unpredictable events will arise.
“There are budgets that I created six months ago that I’ve had to adjust and re-plan. It’s not going to stop us, and it requires re-working things to be successful.” - Crystal Rasa, Customer Fulfillment Sourcing Manager for IKEA Canada
At BGIS, they were experiencing many delays in terms of mechanical equipment, which impacted project and construction timelines. “If we want to replace a piece of equipment that will provide a reduction in carbon and we want that to happen this year, we need to get the ball rolling as early as possible, so we’re prepared for these types of delays,” explained Alison.
Moving the green needle forward
As you find your footing in a consumer landscape that’s demanding greener supply chain action, it’s important to create a strategic sustainability plan that includes ambitious goals that start at the leadership level, and trickle down to every team, vendor and stakeholder that your company works with. At a time when climate change is taking centre stage, it’s important to set targets and do everything we can to move towards those goals. As Cindy said, “setting ambitious targets will help to signal the solutions that we need to attain those goals.”
To hear the full story on the latest sustainability research and to learn how industry leaders are planning their supply chains for a greener future, watch the full webcast.