November 2022, Sarah Ng, Senior Corporate Communications Manager, IETP.
This article was originally published in the November 2022 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!
As a specialist responsible sourcing program in the global supply chain, we at IETP are frequently answering questions about how to improve supply chain sustainability and engage suppliers. In recent years, we’ve been receiving more environment-focused questions, such as, “How can I measure the social and environmental impacts of my supply chain?” and “How can I collect environmental and social metrics from my suppliers at scale?”
With that in mind, we can share guidance on how to measure environmental sustainability in supply chains and tips to gather these metrics both cost-effectively and efficiently.
KEYWORDS EXPLAINED: WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE SOURCING?
The concept of responsible sourcing is taking ethical, environmental, and social requirements into account when selecting external suppliers to manufacture your goods or products. Supply chain transparency and supply chain visibility are terms used to describe the level of oversight you have over your suppliers’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and the potential risks found in these areas.
Responsible sourcing often focuses on the more recent adoption of positive human rights and labor standards practices. As more governments committed to the Paris Agreement (the international treaty on climate change), there was a significant increase in the number of supply chain regulations requiring businesses to measure and improve their environmental and social impacts through ESG reporting.
To successfully integrate supplier oversight with environmental sustainability, try to understand your suppliers’ policies and operations that may be relevant to your own ESG objectives. For example, for the net zero carbon emissions goal, you could ask what energy sources your suppliers use, how they track scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, and what their reduction plan looks like.
Effective responsible sourcing strategies will outline guidelines upholding the organizational ESG objectives during the supplier selection process.
DIGITALIZE DATA COLLECTION
To track the key performance indicators of your overall environmental sustainability, first you must measure how your business and suppliers are performing. Are you currently tracking environmental metrics on spreadsheets and across countless emails, losing track of the most recent documents, and double-checking your collected ESG metrics against your own projections? If so, these manual processes are taking up too much of your valuable time.
Digitalizing the data collection process will give you more time for data analysis and decision-making. One of the most efficient ways to achieve this is by using trusted supply chain transparency tools. Take our remote environmental assessment as an example: The online platform allows you to collect environmental metrics from your global suppliers quickly and at scale. Suppliers are able to submit information anytime and anywhere, and the drop-down options ensure efficient data information collection that aligns with your reporting needs.
Furthermore, digitalizing supply chain visibility not only simplifies the data collection process, but also reduces duplication and lowers costs for everyone. A user-friendly platform means that you can easily share data across departments, and suppliers can also share their reports with multiple customers — maximizing the value of a single report.
FLEXIBILITY IN DATA COLLECTION
If you worry that the environmental metrics you’re currently collecting may not meet your future needs, it’s time to embrace flexibility.
A lack of flexibility is a common concern for businesses that are exploring strategic environmental assessment tools for their ESG journey. As global legislation, consumer expectations, and a business’ needs evolve, the scope of environmental reporting will expand. Embedding flexibility into data collecting methods early will enable businesses to adapt to an ever-changing environment.
To ensure flexibility, look for environmental assessment tools that are:
- Suitable for a business of any size and from any sector. If your business is categorized as a small and medium enterprise, will the assessment have the capacity to collect and store a large number of environmental metrics throughout your global supply chain if you eventually grow into a multinational corporation (MNC)? What about if you have suppliers producing different kinds of products; can they use the same assessment?
- Easily integrated. When developing our social impact assessment and environmental assessment tools, we kept our stakeholders in mind. Businesses can use both of these remote assessment tools to provide a standalone report and/or integrate them into other ESG initiatives.
USING MEANINGFUL DATA TOOLS
If you find yourself struggling with technology and how to interpret data, use tools that offer summaries or meaningful insights. Preparing and analyzing data requires specialized training, and not everyone who works with data is an expert. Sustainability professionals should focus on employing analytics to enhance their supply chain sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. When you choose an assessment tool, look for one that translates figures and data into meaningful insights and knowledge that can be interpreted and understood by everyone.
The good news is you don’t need to spend time learning new platforms and technologies for environmental and social oversight because these can all be found on one single platform.
RESOURCES FOR THE TOY INDUSTRY
IETP’s online environmental assessment (EA) is a quick and cost-effective solution companies can use to gain oversight of the positive and negative environmental impacts of their business’s operations, and also those of their suppliers. Through clear, consistent, and consolidated information, businesses of any size and sector can benchmark their supply chain partners and identify risks and opportunities.
Furthermore, IETP’s Connect Platform is a one-stop responsible sourcing tool that offers summaries and analytics to gain both environmental and social oversight. The platform allows companies to easily benchmark suppliers, as well as receive instant alerts on any disruptions to the supply chain.
IETP strives to maximize businesses’ responsible sourcing efforts by enhancing supply chain transparency, improving the ESG performance of current suppliers, and helping to find new ethical suppliers.
Blogs you might be interested in:
How Toy Industry Leaders Can Thrive in the Supply Chain’s New Normal | Featured: The Toy Book
How some companies managed to thrive in the supply chains "new normal".
ICTI Ethical Toy Program Offers Tips to Measure Environmental Sustainability in Supply Chains | Featured: The Toy Association
How can toymakers make simple adjustments to improve environmental sustainability in their global supply chain? What kinds of resources does IETP have available to the toy industry?