Sustainable supply chain management is a major issue for more and more companies. This is because a large part of the sustainability issues for German companies often arise in the supply chain. In addition, legal requirements for companies to comply with due diligence requirements in the supply chain are increasing. The “Atlas of Environmental Impacts: Supply Chains” offers companies an overview of possible hot spots in their supply chain along with tips for taking action and steps towards a sustainable supply chain.
Identifying sustainability issues and action fields is a first step for companies to meet their value chain obligations. In addition to human rights, environmental protection is also important. The German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, which will come into force in 2023, obliges companies to anchor environmental protection in their supply chains.
The “Atlas of Environmental Impacts: Supply Chains” helps companies achieve this. For selected sectors with a high environmental impact, it shows where and in which world region of the supply chain negative impacts can occur. In this way, “hot spots” become visible for the respective industry.
“Environmental impacts” are the ecological burdens that arise from activities in the supply chain and at the company’s own business and production sites. Four key themes are presented: greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, water consumption and land use.
Sectors with high environmental impact
The atlas contains the environmental impact of the respective industry in Germany with the associated supply chain: from the extraction of the required raw materials, through processing, to the direct suppliers. The atlas considers the following eight sectors with a high environmental impact:
Metal production and processing
In the “Atlas of Environmental Impacts: Supply Chains,” graphics illustrate the environmental impacts of the eight selected sectors with their supply chains in the four key areas. In addition, there is an overview of each industry on just a few pages.
Co-author Daniel Weiß explains the “Atlas of Environmental Impacts: Supply Chains” based on the clothing industry (German).
Measures to design and optimise a sustainable supply chain
Once companies have gained an understanding of the environmental impact and the hot spots in their supply chain, they then have come up with suitable action. Here, too, the environmental atlas offers some orientation.
Internal action in supplier management through integration into purchasing
Companies should include environmental protection issues in framework agreements or in the supplier code. This creates an obligation.
External action in supplier management through cooperation with suppliers
Real-world experience shows that suppliers have a great need for knowledge transfer and capacity-building. In exchange with suppliers, knowledge can be imparted and common solutions can be found.
Build sustainable supplier structures
Establishing transparent supply chains with high ecological standards directly can be another tool – for example by purchasing directly from the raw material producers.
Change product structure through the use of sustainable product components
Product design changes can significantly contribute to more sustainable supply chains. For example, recycled materials could be used or problematic production processes could be changed.
Pragmatic steps towards a more sustainable supply chain
The possible measures are only briefly outlined here. In general, the “Atlas of Environmental Impacts: Supply Chains” is a compact overview on almost 50 pages that helps companies move towards more sustainable supply chains. The atlas ends with a checklist of five pragmatic tips that will help them get started in the sustainable design and optimisation of their supply chains.