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New Report Reveals 2015 Sustainable Supply Chain Trends

Maintaining a sustainable supply chain is one undertaking conscious companies are endeavoring to tackle, and according to new research, industry collaboration may be the key to getting there.

Business intelligence provider Ethical Corporation surveyed its global community to uncover key issues plaguing supply chains and the potential opportunities for sustainable improvements in a recent report titled, “Sustainable Supply Chain Trends 2015.”

According to the report, eliminating supply chain risks is the main driver for 32 percent of executives polled who say they are still incentivized to rid their supply chains of risk, and traceability and environmental concerns will be the biggest issues to watch out for in 2015/16.

For 23 percent of executives, reputation concerns rank high as social media and the sort can do detrimental damage to a brand found to be engaging in unethical practices, whether knowingly or not.

But industry collaboration presents the biggest opportunity for the coming years. Nearly 24 percent of the corporate brand, agency, academic, government and NGO respondents across all regions (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific) said seeing the sector work together is the “most exciting opportunity” for supply chain sustainability.

Traceability, environmental concerns and human rights still rank among the top three issues companies face in working toward cleaner supply chains, but each are prioritized differently in different regions.

“When breaking the responses down by region, the primary issue differs; Europe respondents stated traceability, North America stated eliminating dependency on unsustainable raw materials and Asia Pacific stated environmental concerns,” the report noted.

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Companies aren’t the only ones seeking out sustainability either. Investors looking for the best returns want to buy into businesses with sustainably supply chains and employees want to work for them.

When it comes to investors, an Accenture study released in May found that 52 percent of executives cited investor interest as an incentive for investing in sustainability and 73 percent said lack of investor interest is currently a barrier to companies building sustainability into core business.

“At the same time,” Supply Management magazine wrote in a post, “talented employees are gravitating towards companies known for their ethical sensitivities. For millennials—the future of the workforce—it’s seen as a given.”

No longer a nice-to-have, sustainable practices have become necessary for businesses eyeing long-term success.

“Companies with sustainability as a key business focus have successfully balanced a commercial advantage with social and environmental advantages, resulting in strong customer loyalty and soaring sales,” Supply Management noted.

Ethical Corporation published the report in advance of its 10th Annual Sustainable Supply Chain Summit, which will be held in London Nov. 10-11, 2015, a meeting of the minds in the supply chain, procurement, sourcing, sustainability and corporate social responsibility sectors.