Whether you're a new, green-minded company looking to source goods in a planet- and people-friendly way or a large, well-established business trying to meet sustainability goals, supply chain issues can be a significant challenge to overcome.
And with recent scares in product safety in industries as broad as food, toys and cosmetics, ensuring the highest quality while also minimizing environmental impact adds another wrinkle to the issue.
To address these problems and help improve businesses' footprint, IBM this week launched the latest expansion of its consulting arm: its Sustainable Procurement program.
The consulting service aims to help IBM's clients lay out targets for the environmental, economic and labor elements of their supply chains and manage those partnerships effectively.
"Driving sustainability practices through a global supply chain provides the biggest opportunity for companies and government agencies to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact on a large scale," Eric Riddleberger, the leader of IBM's CSR consulting team, said in a statement. "It creates a domino effect, helping all supply chain partners become greener, more efficient and economical, and improving their contributions to the communities and countries they operate in."
In addition to helping address concerns about the safety, quality and labor conditions that go into producing product materials, the new project can help a company measure, report and reduce their greehouse gas emissions. The difference between "tiers 1 and 2" and "tier 3" emissions -- those directly produced by a company vs. those generated along the supply chain -- can be massive: depending on the breadth of your business's supply chain, as much as 80 percent of GHGs from your operations are generated along the supply chain, through sourcing, manufacturing, shipping and other elements of production.
IBM says that the new consulting program allows companies to reduce supply chain emissions significantly by establishing guidelines for energy use and working to improve efficiency and monitor performance along the supply chain.
The Sustainable Procurement program covers six areas of supply chain management, including environmental issues like managing and reducing energy and water use, as well as reducing waste and the use of toxic materials. It also aims to ensure that suppliers contribute to their communities, engage in safe and compliant labor practices, support diverse workplaces and adhere to business ethics and financial accounting standards.
IBM's new supply chain consulting project is part of the company's growing "Smarter Planet" initiative, which covers almost every area of business operations. More details are online at http://www.ibm.com/gbs/sustainability.
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