Supply Chain Sustainability Trends

If you polled the population a few years ago and asked them what “supply chain” meant, chances are you’d get some blank stares in response. Now it seems like the supply chain is on everyone’s minds. If these past two years have taught us anything, it is that the supply chain is extremely important and a complex operation in need of some fine-tuning.

One way that more and more organizations are optimizing their supply chains is through the implementation of sustainable practices. Both environmental and social sustainability measures have never been more important. Organizations that ignore sustainable opportunities risk losing their competitive advantage as consumers come to expect some level of sustainability in their products and services.

Below are three ways organizations can create more sustainable supply chains.

1. Create a Circular Economy

A circular economy, as opposed to a linear economy, creates a supply chain loop. In this loop, materials can be reused or recycled back into the supply chain to be used again and again for as long as possible. This greatly reduces the number of natural resources needed to fulfill orders.

By reusing and recycling materials, natural resource constraints are reduced and supply chains can function more efficiently in self-sustaining ways. This will also help organizations survive and thrive under unpredictable circumstances that may limit the availability of resources (like in the case of a pandemic).
 

2. Transparency

Creating a more visible supply chain is the first step towards a sustainable one. If an organization lacks clarity in its supply chain it will be difficult to assess inefficiencies or opportunities for improvement throughout the process. And, transparency in the supply chain can be designed to fit your organization’s specific needs. If you’re looking to increase the efficiency of your supply chain you could implement automated technology to perform certain tasks and track performance.

Regardless of the technology, your organization implements to improve transparency, supply chain visibility is important. It allows companies to track every level of their supply chain so there is an element of accountability throughout the entire process.

3. Supplier Sustainability

Just because your warehouse may be sustainable does not guarantee that the suppliers you use are also following sustainable practices. In addition to a transparent supply chain, supplier sustainability is vital to maintaining a sustainable supply chain.

Ensuring your suppliers are sustainable means creating benchmarks and sustainability goals at every level of supplier tiers. Checking in on suppliers and monitoring performances ensures all members of your organization’s supply chain are doing their part. While it may be difficult to manage multiple suppliers, especially when suppliers can be located across the globe, it is beneficial to use a third party retail logistics provider.

3PLs use warehouse management systems and other automation to track inventory, monitor warehouse performance, and optimize your supply chain. They are also capable of monitoring sustainable measures and using suppliers that meet your organization's sustainability goals. Relying on a third party to provide retail fulfillment and logistics services takes stress off organizations, enabling them to focus on their customers and products while the 3PL handles the rest.


Conclusion

It is clear that the supply chain is constantly evolving and organizations need to evolve with it to keep up. As consumers push for more eco-friendly and sustainable measures in the products they purchase, organizations need to ensure that their supply chain process is a sustainable one.

Create a circular economy that promotes reusing materials. Increase visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain to weed out unsustainable practices. Only use suppliers that are aligned with your organization’s sustainability goals. And, when in doubt, use a third-party logistics provider for your organization’s retail supply chain logistics needs.