What tangible steps can businesses take to become more sustainable? It is a big question, but an urgent one. We are all facing environmental degradation and the societal consequences that come with it.
As the United Nations has put to words with its Sustainable Development Goals, sustainability goes beyond the climate; the interests of the planet are in line with that of human welfare.[i] The call for real improvements to sustainability is therefore equally a call for human rights, social health and fair economic growth.
As the infrastructure of global business – connecting people and enterprise around the world – supply chains have a central role to play in our sustainable future. Logistics can strengthen our planet through a smarter global trade network.
Currently however, they are a leading cause of emissions. As indirect, ‘Scope 3’ emissions, supply chain emissions are often hidden from view, but for many companies over 80% of all their greenhouse-gas emissions are found in their supply chain.[ii] This means that there is a lot of room for improvement.
There are several areas for improvement for most companies.
Lower emissions. First and foremost, a sustainable supply chain will have a lower carbon footprint. This means streamlining transportation routes, but also avoiding waste, spoilage, damage, unnecessary trips and idle time. All of these inefficiencies are costly – especially in terms of emissions.
Collaboration. Limited collaboration is a big contributing factor to inefficiency. In fact, an efficient supply chain is founded on collaboration. Half-filled vehicles, multiple deliveries to the same address and limited supplier transparency can be solved with collaboration and data sharing.
Traceability. Traceability improves operations for supply chain managers, gives a winning edge to logistics service providers who can demonstrate their sourcing and provides consumers with the ability to make informed choices.
Resilience. As previous years have shown, a disruptive world means massive disruptions for supply chains. Resilience is key to being able to provide value to customers and maintaining stability during unstable times.
Sustainability is good for business. A sustainable supply chain uses resources efficiently, avoids present and future regulation costs and improves reputation in the eyes of prospective employees and consumers alike.
Keep in mind that consumer reputation is directly financial – consumers are demanding ethical and sustainable products. In fact, one study found that 85% of consumers would choose to buy from a company with a reputation for sustainability if their prices were equal with a neutral company.[iii] This reputation is a clear competitive edge.
Not only is it a smart choice, investing in sustainability is critical.[iv] As recent global disruptions have shown, not having a resilient, transparent and visible supply chain can be incredibly costly. There is an obvious need to build resilience in the face of an uncertain future.
The value of sustainability is apparent. So is the value of visibility, traceability, resilience and collaboration as investment directions. Digitalisation offers powerful tools to these ends.[v] Having a complete, dynamic picture of your supply chain is the only way to make an honest assessment. Gathering and analysing data provides concrete facts.
For logistics service providers, having access to shipping data is only likely to become more necessary over time. As regulatory pressure increases to demonstrate procurement and sourcing, traceability will become a big advantage.
For any supply chain, data does not only allow you to see the true impact of your sustainability models, but it also helps identify and prioritise problem areas for sustainability. Through a deeper understanding of transport routes, emissions and cargo losses, you will be able to coordinate your supply chain better – ultimately making it greener and more efficient.
Through intelligent connectivity, the IoT-based tracking solution Visilion provides the necessary information to move your supply chain into a more sustainable future. It tracks your goods in transit and provides a wealth of data related to their condition and location. This data then serves as a basis for optimising your operations, leading to both economic and environmental savings.
Having access to detailed shipment data can help you determine more fuel-efficient routes or modes of transport. By notifying you if there’s a delay, a route deviation or a significant temperature variation, Visilion allows you to mitigate risks and avoid losses.
Providing easy ways to share data between supply chain stakeholders, Visilion helps you to work more effectively together, building trust, further mitigating risks and reducing waste. The benefits are tangible; not only for those directly involved, but for society as a whole.
As an early adopter of science-based environmental targets, the Sony Corporation understands the immense challenge posed by climate change. That is why we have committed to reducing our own environmental footprint to zero by 2050.
Achieving an environmentally responsible business will require minimising the footprint of our own products, as well as developing technologies to support other businesses. We are confident that the 'Road to Zero' will be paved with powerful, creative and innovative technologies.