Anna Schuldt, Business Analyst and Sustainability Expert at Hermes International, a business unit of Hermes Germany
The first step: Analyzing your own CO2 emissions
Companies should start with an analysis of the current situation: What quantities of CO2 are being produced at which stages within the supply chain? The more concrete data there is, the better. Companies can seek support in this process: Hermes International, for example, accompanies its customers with the evaluation of existing data and helps to identify areas with potential for a sustainable design as well as an individual strategy for the reduction of CO2 emissions. A large proportion of CO2 emissions are caused on the long haul of the transport route. However, there is often a lack of transparency in this area – customers feel that they have little influence. A precise analysis and evaluation of the transport data helps to initiate effective changes. A change in transport modes, better container utilization, lower-emission transport carriers or a change in warehousing strategy can lead to CO2 savings. Issues such as near-sourcing are also coming to the fore again. Further, relocating procurement and production to geographically closer regions shortens transport distances and thus reduces CO2 emissions.
Long-term strategies: Rethinking is essential
The second aspect is the necessary change that must be initiated in the long term: Those who want to hold their own in the market should be aware that we need a rethink. Sensible strategies for conserving resources include producing long-lasting basics, switching to slow fashion, targeted re- and upcycling, and refurbishing goods that are still usable. Also in view of the current supply chain disruptions, companies are realizing that just-in-time production purely oriented toward cost efficiency no longer makes sense and is not viable for the future. It is no longer a matter of choosing the region with the lowest manufacturing costs as a matter of course, but of finding a sensible balance between economic considerations, production reliability and sustainability goals. Those responsible should therefore take a very close look at what, how and where they produce in the future. Less consumption, more awareness is the credo. Less consumption, deceleration and a shift to long-lasting products are at the core of sustainable business and effective methods for reducing CO2 emissions.