Greening Your Supply Chain: Practical Steps For Sustainable Success

By: Jim Luneke | November 10th, 2023

To address environmental and social concerns, supply chain sustainability has emerged as a critical concept that not only benefits the planet but also contributes to a company’s long-term success. In this blog post, we’ll outline the steps you can take to effectively implement supply chain sustainability.

In today’s world, the concept of supply chain sustainability has moved from being a trendy buzzword to a vital aspect of business operations.

Organizations, both large and small, are recognizing the importance of incorporating it into their supply chains. Not only does this help meet the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products, but it also minimizes environmental impact, reduces operational costs, and prevents a host of other supply chain issues from arising.

In our previous blog post, we examined what supply chain sustainability is, why it matters, and how the right solution can help you take advantage. For this post, we’ll discuss practical steps that you can take to effectively implement supply chain sustainability.

Assess your supply chain and set goals

Here’s the thing–setting off on an expedition without a map or destination in mind is incredibly hard. That’s why starting your journey towards a sustainable supply chain begins with defining well-articulated, measurable objectives. These objectives should resonate with your organization’s core values and mission while addressing current supply chain issues. They could encompass reducing carbon emissions, curtailing waste, and ethically sourcing materials. No matter the goals you choose, they need to adhere to the SMART framework: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

To make informed decisions and navigate your progress effectively, you need to embark on a comprehensive assessment of your supply chain as well. This means meticulously mapping out every phase and pinpointing key suppliers, transportation methods, and energy sources. This initial evaluation lays the foundation for pinpointing areas in dire need of sustainability enhancements.

Choose sustainable suppliers

In your journey towards sustainability, selecting suppliers who share your commitment is pivotal. Sure, it’s easier to find partners who meet the bare minimum requirements, but if you’re really serious about sustainability then you have to go above and beyond in the selection process. Seek out suppliers who adhere to ethical labor practices, employ eco-friendly processes, and wholeheartedly pledge to reduce their carbon footprint. Cultivating enduring relationships with these eco-conscious suppliers will become a cornerstone in constructing a genuinely green supply chain.

Reduce energy consumption & minimize waste

Energy consumption is a formidable contributor to a supply chain’s environmental impact. According to the World Resources Institute, energy-efficient practices can slash energy usage by a significant 20-30% in industrial settings. This is where implementing energy-saving measures such as LED lighting, precision temperature controls, and investments in energy-efficient equipment not only reduce your carbon footprint but also lead to tangible cost savings. Additionally, waste reduction is paramount in your path to sustainability. Employ waste management systems that champion the reduction, reuse, and recycling of materials wherever feasible. Finally, you should encourage your suppliers to adopt sustainable packaging practices and cut down on excess packaging to help diminish your product’s environmental footprint.

freight railroad transportation

Optimize transportation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency underscores the colossal impact of transportation, attributing 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States to this sector. In your supply chain, transportation often emerges as a substantial source of emissions. In the journey towards sustainability, you need to evaluate your transportation methods and explore innovative alternatives like hybrid or electric vehicles, rail transport, and local sourcing. Additionally, employ route optimization software to effectively curtail unnecessary mileage and fuel consumption.

Promote employee awareness

Sustainability isn’t a solitary endeavor–it’s a shared mission. Here’s why–according to a Cone Communications study, a staggering 64% of millennials factor in a company’s social and environmental commitments when choosing an employer. That’s why it’s critical to harness the potential of your workforce by educating and engaging them in sustainability practices. Encourage them to be catalysts of change, welcoming their eco-friendly ideas and rewarding sustainable behavior. In doing so, your employees will transform into potent advocates for your sustainability journey.

Monitor and measure

An integral part of your voyage towards sustainability is the implementation of systems for perpetual monitoring and measurement of sustainability indicators. A study by BSR revealed that 87% of companies that establish sustainability goals also vigilantly track their progress through key performance indicators (KPIs). Make it a habit to regularly scrutinize your data and adapt your strategies as needed to stay on course towards your sustainability goals.

Collaborate and certify

No matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn. Collaborate with your industry peers and associations to share invaluable insights and best practices. Consider acquiring certifications such as ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) or Fair Trade certification to reinforce your organization’s credibility and exemplify your unwavering dedication to sustainability. Transparency is the cornerstone of supply chain sustainability so be sure to communicate your endeavors to your customers, stakeholders, and the public through various channels, including your website, annual reports, and social media. Be the torchbearer of your achievements, challenges, and your future sustainability plans.

Embracing the process

Integrating sustainability into your supply chain is a continuous journey, one that demands unwavering dedication, strategic planning, and collaboration. By setting explicit goals, meticulously assessing your supply chain, and implementing pragmatic changes in your operations, you’re not only making a lasting impact on the environment but also elevating your reputation and bolstering your bottom line. 

Embracing sustainability isn’t just a responsibility; it’s an indispensable component of your organization’s long-term success and every step you take brings you closer to a brighter and more sustainable future.

Green Supply Chain Technology

Syncrofy and your supply chain sustainability journey

Your number one weapon in a constantly changing world is visibility. When it comes to achieving sustainability, staying agile, and improving supplier collaboration, Syncrofy can provide the visibility to help get you there. What is Syncrofy? It’s a multi-enterprise data platform that enables transparency, intelligence, and automation across your existing supply chain networks.

Syncrofy customers have quickly achieved a positive ROI in the following areas: 

  • Improved business partner relationships
  • Track transportation challenges with partners through fast & easy KPI setting
  • 50% reduction in avoidable fines & fees
  • 55% less time spent searching for documents
  • 30% reduction in revenue leakage

Want to learn more?
To learn how Syncrofy can help you gain visibility, achieve sustainability, and take back control over your supply chain, click here to watch a recorded demo and to start your FREE trial today!


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