Supply chain sustainability an important trend for 2013

Sustainability has become a primary focus for businesses in 2013. It's also come a long way from when corporations treated sustainability as a matter of obligation to environmental regulations. Now, businesses are increasingly pursuing sustainability ventures that not only bring them in line with regulations and then some, but also beneficially impact the bottom line and create a more positive consumer perception. That sustainable sentiment has further crept down along the supply chain. Many businesses have signaled bringing sustainability to their supply chain is a key target moving forward.

Still, integrating sustainability into the business structure is a delicate process and one that takes time. Technical recruiters, however, can help businesses get on the right path by finding top-level, green-minded talent to guide the company into a more sustainable future.

Multinationals forge supply chain path
While many mid-sized companies are more likely to be greenhorns in regard to sustainability, they have many examples in successful supply chain sustainability integration from leading global companies.

In its "Sustainable Supply Chain Benchmark: Consumer Electronics" report, Verdantix, a sustainability analyst firm, identified high-profile businesses including Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard as some of the best multinationals that disclose the environmental issues pertaining to their supply chains. By auditing supplier materials and parts and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions from their supply partners, large firms are better equipped to handle the increased focus on sustainability in the supply chain, the report said.

Sustainability isn't just a perceptive reward, it's also a tangible money-saving path of action.

General Motors set the example for manufacturers by showing the monetary benefits of introducing waste management programs. Thanks to having 102 landfill-free manufacturing plants in operation, GM has cut program costs by 92 percent and reduced total waste by 62 percent, leading to $2.5 billion in revenue through recycling programs from 2005 to 2010.

Still much room for progress
However, despite the encouraging climate for sustainability in the supply chain, businesses can still make many improvements to further their green cause.

According to KPMG, an influential professional services firm, of the 250 leading global companies it surveyed in regard to reporting on water use in the supply chain, just three responded they documented water footprint in parts of their supply chain. None of the 250 reported on water usage for their entire supply chain.

In the "State of Sustainable Business Poll 2012," GlobeScan found just 51 percent of responding businesses ranked integrating sustainability into the supply chain as a four or a five on a five-point scale of progress. Comparably, 73 percent of businesses ranked sustainability reporting for the corporation as a whole as a four or a five.

Sustainability will be a priority for scores of businesses, yet many are still inadequately prepared to meet the green demands of an evolving supply chain. However, many can benefit by using manufacturing recruiters to guide talent searches and help usher in a new era of supply chain sustainability.