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Integrating Behaviors to Create Sustainable Supply Chains

Submitted by: Elisabeth Comere

Posted: May 18, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Series: Supply Chain Sustainability: Special Focus

Tags: supply chain, sustainability, business

 
Comerej

By Elisabeth Comere, Director for Environment & Government Affairs, Tetra Pak US & Canada and Chris Davidson, Director of Global Sustainability, MWV

This is the most recent article in our series on Supply Chain Sustainability. For more articles, go to
http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/75-supply-chain-sustainability-special-focus/posts

With the rise of interest in the circular economy, it is heartening to observe the evolution of corporate sustainability commitments that pay renewed attention to the entire life cycle, not just mid and end-of-life solutions characteristic of past practices, especially because of the current reality around resource scarcity. Most experts agree that global population growth—expected to rise an estimated three billion  over the next 20 years—and increased consumer consumption is putting more of a strain than ever on natural resources.

For industry, stability and sustainability of these natural resources is necessary to help secure business growth, better manage and mitigate against geopolitical threats to supply, build brand equity and more. Sustainable sourcing and management of natural capital via a greener supply chain is increasingly not just a nice to have, but a must do.  

So how can industry address the challenges—and opportunities—that come from a greener supply chain? Over the nearly 30 years we’ve partnered as customer and supplier, we have evolved a success model built on knowledge sharing and integrated behaviors. It’s a model we believe can be applied to the upstream and downstream supplier and vendor networks of any business to help create systemic change within supply chains.

Our model acknowledges the existence our individual sustainability goals and the need for alignment between them. But real change has to go beyond mutual shared values. It is dependent on exchanging information and co-creating solutions. For us, that starts with genuine understanding from MWV of the ambitions and goals of Tetra Pak which is in turn reflected in environmental actions and commitments from MWV. 

For example, in reaction to Tetra Pak’s goals around sustainable resource management, MWV shares ongoing assurances that the paperboard they deliver meets strict criteria around how it is sourced and certified. This dialogue is ongoing to accommodate adjustment of goals over the years and the regular flow of information ensures that we are in sync.

Our model also strives to encourage a relationship of knowledge sharing and mirroring of best practices, which we believe can have a transformative ripple effect that, over the long term, creates change among all players. Consider: MWV’s embrace of Tetra Pak’s goals has pushed sustainable materials criteria further down the supply chain, as MWV influences the behaviors of its own suppliers, holding them to standards that call for responsibly managed, sourced and harvested fiber-based products. For example, MWV worked to secure sustainable fiber certification for a wood chip supplier near our Evadale, Texas, mill, so that we could continue to provide certified products to Tetra Pak.  Actions like this build a shared commitment to sustainability at the very beginning of the life cycle and ensure the sustainability of the resource inputs needed to make Tetra Pak cartons. 

Individual goal setting around a greener supply chain is important. But when vendors and suppliers work together to transform behaviors and approaches, we’ve found that systemic change happens faster and  goes further. 

This is the most recent article in our series on Supply Chain Sustainability. For more articles, go to
http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/75-supply-chain-sustainability-special-focus/posts

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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