CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 17, 2017
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Pressure for sustainable supply chains grows

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An international survey shows that 80 percent of businesses are facing customers' demands that their supply chains be socially responsible.

An international survey of 2,160 business professionals from Europe, the Americas, and Asia found that customers are driving companies to focus more heavily on creating sustainable supply chains.

The study—conducted by the research institute GFK Eurisko and DNV GL, a European provider of classification, certification, verification, and training services—reports that 80 percent of companies say their customers are pressuring them to demonstrate the sustainability of their supply chains.

Of the survey respondents, 42 percent report already having a formal sustainable supply chain strategy in place. This percentage increases to 57 percent for larger corporations and 81 percent for companies considered to be sustainability leaders.

A sustainable supply chain is considered to cover many different aspects of social responsibility. Fifty-six percent of respondents report that their companies consider environmental impact when choosing a supplier or making a buying decision, 51 percent consider the health and safety of workers, 43 percent consider economic impacts on the local community, and 29 percent consider ethics.

The most common sustainability initiatives among respondents include supplier audits (41 percent of all companies) and communicating specific sustainability policies to suppliers (36 percent of companies). However, two-thirds of companies limit these activities to tier-one suppliers, or those companies they buy from directly, and do not have any control of their upstream supply chain.

Survey respondents predict that supply chain sustainability will become even more critical to business success in the future, and 66 percent expect to improve their supply chain sustainability within three years.

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