Tuesday saw the fourth meeting of our Corporate Sustainability Mastermind (CoSM) Group. This time we went for a rural location - the Crown Hotel, Wetheral, Cumbria - with another great restaurant (one of the rules of the group is "no executive buffets").
The theme of the meeting was greening the supply chain. As the group operates under the Chatham House rule, I can't share the company specific solutions we discussed, but here's a sample of the three dozen or so generic lessons we recorded at the meeting:
- Sustainability risks in the supply chain often exceed risks within the factory fence
- Proactive anticipation is essential – reacting is usually too late
- Need to continuously scan horizon for future legislation from around the world - legislation has impacts way beyond its immediate jurisdiction in a globalised world
- The business model defines the supply chain – only incremental improvements can be made without rethinking that business model
- Awareness days are highly effective ways of sharing good practice across silos and identifying synergies
- Identify the ‘difference makers’ and make them your champions
- Use competition to drive performance above standards eg allocate 15% of tender scoring to sustainability and let bidders compete for those points
- Investment appraisals must be made on through life costs, not just capital costs
- Joint research with suppliers on greener options can deliver synergistic benefits
- There is plenty of scope for closed loops for certain materials, particularly metals
- Small products can be very difficult to recover. Composting and energy recovery may be preferential routes
- Widen tolerances on inputs to open up a wider range of raw material sources
- Chicken and egg situation with closed loop business models and civic infrastructure (materials recovery/composting) – need to be proactive and lead
As always, the real benefit was how we got to these generic points and the examples of company specific challenges and shortcuts members threw in to the discussion.
The CoSM Group is for senior sustainability managers in large organisations which meets quarterly in great locations for open and frank discussion - and NO Powerpoint. The next meeting will be in September and will be themed around Sustainability Strategy: The Next Generation. If you'd like to learn more, please drop me a line.