Sustainability in supply chains isn’t a fad anymore; it is becoming a serious business trend, says a MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) report.
According to CTL, some 2,400 supply chain professionals were surveyed during the course of this study and more than 80% of respondents claimed the pandemic had no impact or increased their firms’ commitments to supply chain sustainability.
It also noted that supply chain sustainability (SCS) investments hardly slowed, even as the pandemic raged on unabated worldwide.
CTL publishes the 2021 State of Supply Chain Sustainability report in collaboration with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).
This year’s report was sponsored by BlueYonder, C.H. Robinson, KPMG, Intel, and Sam’s Club.
“We believe cooperation between sectors is vital to thoroughly understand the complexity and evolution of sustainability efforts more broadly,” says CTL research scientist David Correll.
“Our work with CSCMP and our sponsors helps us to embed this essential research and its findings within the context of the real-life practice of supply chain management.”
The survey was which conducted in late 2020 saw nearly double the number of respondents from previous years.
Around 21 in-depth executive interviews were completed, and relevant news items, social media content, and reports were also analyzed for the report.
According to the report, the pressure to support sustainability in supply chains came from multiple sources, both internal and external, but increased the most among investors and industry associations.
Internally, company executives were standout champions of SCS.
Although there are many approaches to investing in SCS, interest in human rights protection and worker welfare, along with energy savings and renewable energy, increased significantly last year.
Supplier development was the most common mechanism used by firms to deliver on their SCS promises.
Most of the momentum behind SCS appeared to come from large (1,000-plus employees) and very large (10,000-plus employees) companies covered by the research.
Small- to medium-sized enterprises were far less committed; the report says that more work will be needed to bring them into the fold through a better understanding of the barriers they face.
Other issues too were brought to the fore. One CTO for instance spoke about how sustainability commitments had to be temporarily sacrificed to achieve others during the pandemic.
He termed it as ‘moral calculus’. Such a calculus will likely challenge many companies as they juggle their responses to SCS demands over the next few years.
Image and content: Andrew Coop-Unsplash/MIT