To ensure long-term competitiveness, companies must integrate ecological and social criteria into their target systems and their decisions – this is also the belief of a large proportion of the 200 logistics managers surveyed for the Hermes Barometer (74 percent). But where can companies start? Which measures are particularly effective? An interview with Anna Schuldt, business analyst and sustainability expert at Hermes International, a division of Hermes Germany.
Ms. Schuldt, surveys like the 15th Hermes Barometer on the topic of “Green Supply Chain Management” has revealed that the relevance of a sustainably designed supply chain for company’s own future viability has been recognized. For example around half of german decision-makers (56 percent) stated that they had defined ambitious targets for reducing CO2 emissions. Can you confirm these results from your own experience?
There is currently a change in thinking: Companies are becoming increasingly aware that reducing CO2 emissions is not only essential for the continued existence of our planet. The economic factors associated with the reduction of CO2 emissions are also becoming a focus of management attention.
As a result, suppliers are being asked to provide a transparent supply chain and to assume responsibility for sustainability issues. The targets set by companies are sometimes very ambitious and, in some cases, already implement the Supply Chain Act, which will come into force in January 2023. As a result of this development, our customers are also increasingly addressing the issue of a more sustainable supply chain.
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Anna Schuldt, business analyst and sustainability expert at Hermes International, a division of Hermes Germany.
How do you, at Hermes International, support companies that want to save CO2 or fundamentally make their supply chain more sustainable?
At Hermes International, we work with a three-phase model: analysis, avoidance, reduction. Upon request, we can produce a corresponding analysis via our Business Intelligence Tool which is based on the transport data from our customers.
On the basis of this overview, we work together with our customers to develop opportunities for CO2 avoidance, e.g. by changing transport modes, better utilization of containers or a smart warehousing strategy.
In addition, we are currently working on increasing the use of modern, lower-emission transport carriers in the future and including an offset option in our offers.
Speaking of compensation: The offsetting of CO2 emissions is sometimes regarded as a “modern trade in indulgences”. What options do companies have in this context – are there differences in quality? What should responsible parties look for when selecting a compensation provider?
The avoidance of CO2 should always be at the forefront of considerations for a more sustainable supply chain. However, when all options for avoidance have been exhausted, additional offsetting is a valid and effective means of reducing CO2.
Companies that want to offset their CO2 emissions should look for the Gold Standard when selecting a provider and check whether the processes are certified, for example, by TÜV. At Hermes International, we work together with the Hamburg-based company Arktik. Arktik offers many different climate protection projects that are based on the Sustainable Development Goals. The offsetting does not only save CO2, but also improves the standard of living of the local population and preserves biodiversity.
High-quality offsetting does not always have to be cost-intensive and complicated. For example, Arktik can be used by companies without much effort. The additional costs pay off with an enormous effect: not only for the company’s own sustainability strategy and the associated external impact, but also for the local population in whose project area the offsetting is being used.
What advice do you have for companies that want to make their supply chain more sustainable? How can those in charge get started with green supply chain management?
Companies kick things off when they include the topic of “sustainability” or “green supply chain management” in their agenda. I strongly advise not to be afraid of the task. There are many ways to make processes more sustainable. Before taking on too much at once and, in the worst case, losing enthusiasm, leaders should start with a single improvement and then work their way forward – slowly but steadily. The most important thing is to start as early as possible: Now!