4 Ways to Improve Supply Chain Sustainability

SustainabilitySave Money and the Environment

Sustainability is a growing concern in business. Not just because it’s great for protecting the environment, but sustainability also saves a lot of the other kind of green – money.

After 175 countries (a record amount) signed the Paris Climate Agreement on April 22, 2016, it’s clear that whether they like it or not, companies will need to use sustainable practices in their operations. Fortunately, technology is making that much easier for us.

Improving sustainability is a smart move in the long-run because it will keep costs lower, help you meet anticipated changes in regulations, and it will reduce environmental damage. In most cases, the same efforts that increase sustainability also improve the efficiency of your business, making it a win-win.

The following are four ways your business can start improving supply chain sustainability.

1. Review Your Current Supply Chain Sustainability ImpactReview your environmental impact

Many companies often lack a full understanding of how their current supply chain operations affect sustainability. In most cases, it was simply a non-issue in the past and got overlooked.

However, with increased pressure from regulators and a growing demand from end consumers, now would seem the perfect time to do an audit. As you review your various suppliers and other vendors, make note of their most significant environmental and social challenges – these are going to be issues that grow into serious problems down the line.

Analyze your current logistics to see where you can reduce carbon emissions based on the locations of your warehouses relative to each other and the final destinations of your products. Often these are the areas where increasing sustainability also helps you reduce costs.

2. Qualify Vendors by Their Sustainability EffortsQualify vendors

Ultimately, there are many things to consider when choosing vendors for your supply chain. However, sustainability deserves some priority because the more they practice sustainability, the better long-term partner they’ll be.
Vendors who are focusing on sustainability now indicate that they’re thinking of the big picture, and they’re aiming to be as efficient as possible. Those are the type of vendors you want to work with.

Plus, vendors focused on sustainability are more likely to keep their costs down over the long-term, which means they can consistently offer better prices for you.

You already have to consider the quality of their service, their reputation, their prices, and other important factors. More and more, businesses are including sustainability as another qualifying factor for vendors because the value of sustainability is rapidly increasing.

Think about it, when you outsource to a manufacturer, and they get caught illegally dumping toxic waste, it’s your brand that gets damaged. Their sustainability efforts affect your business.

3. Participate in Industry Self-RegulationSelf-regulate your impact

The bigger your business is, the more intimidating it can be to make significant changes. After all, minimizing risk is often a good strategy for ensuring your business is around for generations to come. However, it’s easier to get on board when you aren’t alone.

Most industries have sustainability groups that various companies participate in to self-regulate their industry. Rather than waiting for the government or other regulatory bodies to set new compliance standards, which could have tight deadlines and strict penalties, it’s better to stay ahead of the curve through self-regulation.

By choosing to improve sustainability as a group, your industry shows that you’re acting in good faith, which decreases the likelihood of outside pressure. Plus, it becomes significantly easier to solve sustainability problems when you have input from multiple sources.

Working with your peers allows you to agree on best practices for sustainability and to set common standards for your industry to meet.

4. Implement EDI in Your Supply ChainImplement EDI in your supply chain

If your business is still relying on paper documents, manual data entry, and the use of fax machines in your supply chain – implementing EDI will not only drastically reduce your environmental impact, but it will also save you a ton of money.

EDI (electronic data interchange) allows you to send and receive business documents electronically through a secure EDI network, called a VAN. With EDI, you can instantly communicate with all of the various vendors in your supply chain, providing real-time monitoring of shipments, inventory levels, and other valuable information.

EDI also makes it easier to optimize your supply chain by measuring the performance of vendors, maintaining optimal inventory levels, and reducing cash-to-order cycles.

Rather than making the substantial investment of time and money to build an in-house EDI system, most businesses opt to outsource their EDI to an EDI service provider such as BOLD VAN. In addition to providing a fast and secure VAN for EDI communication, we offer a unique pricing structure that saves companies up to 80% each month compared to other EDI providers.

Using our cloud-based EDI software, we help your business scale your supply chain more efficiently while improving sustainability and saving you money along the way.

Contact us today to learn more about how EDI can benefit your business!

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