T he pandemic put new strains on supply chains, but that didn’t stop companies from launching initiatives to shrink their carbon footprints and eliminate waste. A few notable examples: • Starbucks set a goal in March 2021 to improve the way its suppliers produce and process green coffee, achieving carbon neutrality and cutting water usage in half by 2030. • Google announced a new routing model for Google Maps that will help users optimize trips to reduce fuel consumption. • Apparel retailer J. Crew said that by 2025 it would sustainably source all the key fibers in its clothing and all the plastic and paper in its packaging, and its operations would be carbon neutral by 2030. • DHL Express opened a 100% solar-powered pop-up retail store, the company’s first, in Chino Hills, California. At the start of the pandemic, sustainability advocates held their collective breaths, wondering how the crisis would affect the world’s progress. “It was a relief to see that the
“It’s hard now for companies to compete in the global market if they don’t have a sustainability strategy, because stakeholders expect it.” –Bettina Grabmayr, Head of Institutional Relations, EcoVadis
based on the fact that we’re changing in so many ways as it relates to the supply chain,” says Tim Gagnon, vice president of analytics and data science at third- party logistics company C.H. Robinson in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Although commitment varies by geography and industry, sustainability has become a core endeavor rather than an afterthought for more companies. They’re responding to pressure from regulators, consumers, and, more recently, investors. “It’s hard now for companies to compete in the global market if they don’t have a sustainability strategy, because stakeholders have some expectation about this,” says Grabmayr. MEASURING THE RESULTS To help companies rate themselves and their supply chain partners on sustainability, EcoVadis aggregates and analyzes data from a company’s own management systems, reports, and other internal sources; from stakeholders’ databases; and from public sources. Using insights gleaned from that data, EcoVadis works with companies to develop plans to improve sustainability and then measure the results. Companies that already collaborated with suppliers on sustainability were generally better equipped to deal with supply shortages and other challenges posed by the pandemic, which also required collaboration. “This is why some companies did better than others when it came to making sure the supply chain was resilient,” Grabmayr says. One of the more popular
pandemic actually put sustainability at the core of everyone’s efforts,” says Bettina Grabmayr, head of institutional relations at EcoVadis, a Paris-based company that helps firms assess how they’re performing on environmental, social, and ethical issues. The environment stayed a priority during COVID-19 in part because people realized that some of the same factors that fuel climate change, such as loss of biodiversity, also helped to spur the pandemic, Grabmayr says. While it’s hard to directly connect the pandemic to recent supply chain sustainability initiatives, COVID has led many companies to examine how they operate, and spurred them to become more flexible.“There is some correlation between the pandemic and sustainability
DHL’s new pop-up unit in Chino Hills, California, is the international express carrier’s first 100% off-the-grid retail store, boosted by a solar powered system with backup batteries charged at the local service center, helping to reduce energy consumption.
36 Inbound Logistics • June 2021
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