Go Green

Reduce CO2 emissions, save resources: Environmental and climate protection goals such as these are more important than ever. The very beginning of the supply chain holds great potential in the creation of a sustainable end product. It is also the starting point for closer collaboration between suppliers and purchasers.

Eco friendly transportation concept. 3d rendering of green green truck icon on fresh spring meadow with blue sky in background. Photo: Petmal/IStockphoto

Eco friendly transportation concept. Photo: Petmal/IStockphoto

Consciousness surrounding the sustainable use of raw materials, energy and resources is increasing worldwide. According to an international consumer study by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019), 35 percent of respondents actively seek sustainable products. 42 percent are willing to pay more for sustainably produced consumer goods – with the exception of foodstuffs. This motivation is also reflected in the mobility sector: Europe in particular has seen the positive trend in electric vehicle registration numbers continue unabated in the third quarter of 2019. Across the first three quarters of 2019, Germany recorded an increase of 48 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. Despite stagnating figures, China remained the largest market for electric mobility in the third quarter of 2019 and recorded an increase of 21 percent over the same period in the previous year, according to a global evaluation by the German Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW).

CO2-neutral production

While electric cars do not emit harmful carbon dioxide when driving, CO2 is most certainly emitted in the production of their batteries. The need to reduce CO2 poses major challenges for the manufacturers of electric vehicles. At the same time, however, there is an opportunity for them to completely review their processes from the ground up, in such a way that the most important sustainability aspects are taken into account. This allows for the emissions of climate-damaging gases to be reduced within the supply chain. DEKRA’s sustainability experts assist with such goals and projects and provide consulting services, for example on the environmental standards of new construction projects. Part of their work involves advising on CO2 prevention and energy purchasing, as well as CO2-neutral manufacturing. “First, we look at the production facilities: Where does the electricity come from? What emissions are produced? Is more efficient machinery necessary? Performing a situation analysis helps us to compare our findings with those at other sites and to initiate corresponding measures,” reports DEKRA Project Manager Christina Bocher. In ensuing steps, the materials supply chain is also considered, right from the very extraction of the raw materials.

Collaboration for transparent supply chains

The topic of sustainability is not new to industry. However, at a time when the world’s value chains are becoming ever more complex and confusing, Bocher states that it is necessary to obtain as much transparency as possible across the value chain. This is best achieved through partnerships between manufacturers and suppliers. “Manufacturers no longer just buy products from their suppliers, but develop these in tandem with them,” says the DEKRA expert. Close shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation will be an absolute must in the future. Businesses are increasingly focusing on issues of sustainability. They evaluate products against environmental or social criteria, so that their purchasing departments increasingly have to view offerings not just from an economical perspective, but an ecological one too. Suppliers therefore must fully document the entire origination process of their products – as well as provide transparency about the manufacturing conditions in their own supply chain. Sustainability throughout the supply chain can be achieved through the selection of new suppliers, the commitment of existing suppliers to sustainability principles, and the purchase of sustainable products. It is also critical that sustainability is firmly rooted within the company itself. “You are only credible if you truly live the topic,” summarizes Bocher. She adds: “DEKRA too is strongly committed to the issue of sustainability.”

Three Questions For …

Senior Project Manager Sustainability & Regulatory Compliance, Sustainability Services, DEKRA Assurance Services GmbH

Christina Bocher, Senior Project Manager Sustainability & Regulatory Compliance, Sustainability Services, DEKRA Assurance Services GmbH               

What identifies a sustainable value and supply chain?

Businesses with a sustainable or responsible supply chain consider the ecological, social and economic impacts of their value chains along the entire lifecycle of products and services. Added transparency can provide a competitive advantage, as the demands of consumers and market partners are met.

What can businesses do to become more sustainable, and where can DEKRA and its expertise support businesses in this process?

Firstly, businesses should understand the impacts of their products and services across their entire lifecycle, as well as their role in the value chain. DEKRA supports in analyzing this, and identifying relevant areas of action. Depending on their significance, the product, production or organization itself will be in the spotlight. Using our expertise, we provide holistic support to businesses on the path to improved sustainability.

What requirements must buyers impose on their suppliers, and how can we ensure that sustainably produced products are supplied?

Standards and processes to inspect and enforce sustainability criteria must be integrated into purchasing procedures. The imposed requirements should also be guided by internationally recognized sustainability standards. Of similar importance is the establishment of a trusting, transparent and partnership-oriented working relationship with suppliers, as this incentivizes them to continually improve their sustainability performance.

 

 

 

 

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