In Supply Chain Management (SCM), aspects of sustainability are gaining importance. However, for most companies, the increasing relevance is not yet reflected in a more sustainable design of their supply chain. This is the result of the 12th Hermes Barometer on “Sustainability in Supply Chain Management”, a survey conducted by Hermes Germany among 200 logistics decision-makers at German companies.
By the time of the rise of the Fridays for Future movement, at the very latest, the topic of “sustainability” was brought to the public attention. Likewise, 67 percent of logistics decision-makers surveyed believe that sustainability aspects are of very high or high importance for the supply chain management (SCM) in their company. Furthermore, 71 percent of survey participants stated that the importance of “sustainability” has increased within the last two years.
Lack of pressure to take action causes passivity
However, while companies have recognized the relevance, there is still a lack of implementation when it comes to a sustainably designed supply chain: The vast majority of companies (69 percent) do not record their CO2 emissions. Furthermore, 65 percent of this group of participants do not plan to draw up a balance sheet in the future either.
The decision-makers surveyed cited the lack of customer demand (46 percent) and a lack of sustainability management within the company (26 percent) as the main reasons for this passivity. “In relation to the relevance of sustainability aspects for SCM, we would have expected at least a higher number of companies who plan on becoming involved in the future,” says Jan Bierewirtz, CCO and Division Manager Commercial at Hermes International, a division of Hermes Germany. Since the beginning of 2015, Hermes International, together with leading logistics companies, shipping agents and shipping lines, has been involved in the industry initiative „Clean Cargo Working Group“ (CCWG) with the aim of reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in sea freight.
The path to Green Logistics
Only 19 percent of the surveyed German companies stated that they record their own CO2 emissions – a first step towards reducing them. 55 percent of the “green companies” surveyed also support measures to achieve CO2 neutrality. Around three-quarters of these companies achieve additional cost and emission savings by optimizing existing processes: 42 percent purchase CO2 certificates to support climate protection projects and 39 percent try to increase their energy efficiency in industrial real estate. “It goes without saying that no supply chain becomes sustainable overnight. Rather, it is necessary to take many small steps in the right direction in order to meet one’s global responsibility,” says Bierewirtz.
Logistics service providers are asked to advise
More than half (53 percent) of the logistics decision-makers surveyed would like their logistics service providers to counsel on reducing CO2 emissions. At the same time, however, only 18 percent of the participants are willing to pay for the reporting of CO2 emissions by external logistics service providers on the latter’s offers, invoices or in the form of reports. Further, only one quarter of respondents consciously choose a sustainable fleet to improve their own CO2 balance when selecting their service providers. “These results reveal a well-known problem,” says Bierewirtz. “Logistics and the services associated with it must once again be valued more highly.”