Sustainability in the supply chains - analysis of current work practices and way forward
Paper in proceedings, 2009
The TOSCA project – “Towards sustainable value chains through a common approach for company strategic work and daily operations” – has been launched in response to the need for more effective progress towards sustainable development. The project is jointly funded by the EU LIFE+ programme and AkzoNobel, SCA Hygiene Products and Chalmers University of Technology, and will run 2009 through 2011.
AkzoNobel and SCA both have a long experience of applying life cycle assessment (LCA) in product development and production improvement. LCA results are also used in market communication through e.g. environmental product declaration. Other tools in use are e.g. environmental impact assessment, eco-efficiency assessment, and environmental risk assessment. By further work in this area, the companies want to strengthen the co-operation within their supply chains, in order to improve the overall environmental performance and, furthermore, to create a common view on sustainable development and how each actor in the chain can contribute to it.
The TOSCA project will formulate and disseminate a systematic approach to how companies can work towards sustainable development, both within the company and in its supply chains.
In the initial phase of the project an inventory and assessment will be made of: tools and data used to assess and track sustainability aspects, communication practices concerning sustainability information, and strategies in the work with sustainable development
Thorough surveys on data handling and current work practices are presently being performed in the participating companies. In addition, data and information are being collected from the web pages of each company, existing environmental and sustainability documents, and through in-dept semi-structured qualitative interviews with key persons in the companies. This will be complemented with a state-of-the-art description based on contacts with external parties and research.
Results from the inventories show that both companies apply a wide range of sustainability tools; the preliminary list including 45 tools. These have tentatively been categorised into management tools (e.g. key performance indicators and sustainability targets), assessment tools (e.g. life cycle assessment and environmental risk assessment), communication tools (e.g. websites and sustainability reports), supply chain tools (e.g. supplier audits and assessments), data management tools (e.g. internal databases for environmental data), and social and employee management tools (e.g. community programs).
Results on communication practices and sustainability strategies rest largely on the interviews being performed in the two companies. As the series of interviews is not yet completed at the time of writing this abstract, these results cannot be presented here, but will be included in the oral presentation at the LCM conference.