Cost is no longer the only factor to be taken into account when we talk about the supply chain. Values, such as sustainability in the supply chain, are also an issue that industries and businesses are very much looking at.

The term “sustainable” comes from the Latin sustentare (sustain; defend; favor, support; conserve, care for) and its concept is quite complex. In short, it is the condition of a process or system that allows its permanence for a certain period of time.

It must be able to relate to social, energy, economic, and environmental issues. So much so that it is often used to define the capacity of human beings to interact with the world and to preserve the environment and its natural resources, to leave them to future generations.

When we talk about the supply chain, sustainability goes beyond the fiscal and environmental aspects. It also involves the relationship with suppliers, observing their levels of satisfaction, in addition to considering ethical and integrity issues.

If you want to understand more about sustainability in the supply chain, as well as how to apply it in your industry, keep reading this article. In addition to this information, we will show you the benefits of this practice.

The importance of sustainability in the supply chain

Sustainability in the supply chain goes beyond the management processes, including logistics, storage, transportation, distribution, and reverse logistics. It also considers the social and environmental impact that the supply chain can provide.

If you are wondering how to bring this concept to your business, know that it is possible. One way is by working on innovation, through research and development of products and services that can improve routines, from the field to production. Also, look for materials that aim to avoid waste and can be used entirely. As well as new technologies that pollute less and cause no impact on the environment.

Precision Farming

We mentioned reverse logistics earlier, which is the process of collecting packaging and other materials after consumption and then allocating them as input for other actions of value to the market. Thus, there is no disposal or waste of these products. This practice is sustainable and of great importance in several aspects.

Take the example of agribusiness: to perform the planting, harvesting, stocking and storage, and transportation, until the consumption of the final product, a series of inputs and packaging are used. The correct disposal of these items is a cause for concern, both in social and environmental issues. By applying reverse logistics, it is possible to make collection points of these materials available, and thus ensure the correct destination, such as recycling.

In this process, you need to count on your network of suppliers and distributors to make this flow happen. This was just one example of how important it is to create a sustainable relationship between the members of the supply chain.

The benefits of sustainability in the supply chain

Sustainability in the supply chain brings benefits not only to the producer but to everyone involved. Including consumers. In the case of the agribusiness manager, he or she may obtain better cost-benefit and greater efficiency in using resources, since many materials and inputs for the field already provide this.

Also, with the use of correct innovations, you can have greater efficiency, generating energy and water savings. Even, as we mentioned, there are several technologies that, besides improving the sector’s performance, help decrease the environmental impact, leading to sustainable agriculture.

Another advantage is that the products and your business will be positively promoted to the stakeholders. Nowadays, this is a purchasing decision factor, both for distribution networks and for the final consumer.

Procurement in the transformation era

As you have seen, sustainability in the supply chain also brings benefits to the end public and the community. This is because, if the whole system has sustainable actions, there is a decrease in environmental and social impact.  In addition, it provides more savings of natural resources, such as water, which can be reused in several processes.

Important points, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, water, air, and soil pollution are also highlighted. But, as we said, sustainability does not only involve ecological issues. If adopted, it also strengthens social inclusion, through the creation of business opportunities, as well as employment for disadvantaged people.

5 tips for adopting a sustainable supply chain

Now that you have seen the importance and benefits that sustainability in the supply chain can generate, we will show you 5 tips to adopt a more sustainable supply chain.

The first tip, of course, is to study and learn more about how sustainability can have a positive impact on your business. Here at Unilog, we have several contents on this subject. Also, we offer training to your employees so that they can be aware of the new reality, and be prepared for the change. Now, check out other tips to put sustainability into practice in your business.

Map the supply chain: document, schematize all the product information, as well as the cash flow. Do this end-to-end, from start to finish.

Segment your supply chain: Separate it into three parts: product or service, customers, and delivery. Each of these divisions will have its own variations in terms of processes, performance, and expectations.

Measure your processes: when adopting sustainable actions and solutions, continuously check, in a quantitative way, if your methods are giving the expected results. Involve your suppliers and customers.

Don’t forget to plan: have your goals and objectives established, documented, and shared with everyone involved. This goes for employees as well as for your partners.

Share results: share with your team how your business has been collaborating with the social and environmental aspects. Also, don’t forget to disclose your practices to the market, to show your sustainable culture.

In this article, you have seen how important sustainability is in your business’ supply chain. You also got some tips on how to apply it. If you want to receive more tips and first-hand content, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and also follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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