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Steps to building a sustainable supply chain

In this article, supply chain expert Clare Lissaman takes you a through an exercise with four steps to beginning to build a sustainable supply chain.
textile weaving in Nepal
© Mysource Ltd

A supply chain needs to deliver the products you need at the quality and price you need them, when you need them. A sustainable supply chain is not only one that positively supports people and the environment but also one that will be able to sustain your business, meeting your business needs in terms of products quality and price.

Documenting a framework for all of these needs is a good way to start building a sustainable supply chain. This approach should help you do that.

First step

Think about (and write down) the products you want to sell, including at what price you need to sell them.

Second step

Next, map out all the different processes involved in making that product from the raw material to the finished and packaged product. Write down where the potential environmental and social impacts of the product are all the way along that chain.

Third step

Consider what is important to you / your brand regarding sustainability? Some sustainable options may be mutually exclusive (eg Fair Trade which helps producers in developing countries, with making close to home if you are based in Europe, North America or Australia/New Zealand) Are there some aspects you definitely want to prioritise and will be core for your brand? Are there others that can be tackled later down the road? Write these down or map out your thinking.

Last step

Think about your resources. How much money and time do you have? You are unlikely to be able to do everything all at once. What are the key priorities?

Once you have this framework established it will help you build your supply chain(s). Coming up are some case studies of how other brands have done it.

© Mysource Ltd
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