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Ten sustainable supply chain insights from Apple, Golden Agri-Resources, DuPont and Heineken

What are the need-to-know highlights for supply chains this month? Here are our top ten insights

In the May issue of Supply Chain Risk & Innovation, we analyse the IOI Group’s falling out with RSPO and the latest supplier checks by Primark. We examine the latest tech innovation, looking at collaboration between the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and Google, and how the “internet of things” might change clothing labels in the next couple of years. We also focus on all the recent campaigning, and Apple, Golden Agri-Resources, DuPont and Heineken.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from May’s issue:

  1. Is the suspension of the IOI group by RSPO a sign that RSPO is finally showing its teeth? Big brands have since stated that they will discontinue sourcing from IOI if they cannot work with them to try and address issues and complaints. The move by the RSPO highlights the pressure faced by the Malaysian palm oil industry as it balances economic development with social and environmental responsibility. UPDATE: This is big news, IOI is now taking legal action against RSPO.
  2. Clothing label maker, Avery Dennison, is using the “internet of things” to develop labels for more than 10 million products. The labels will provide unique digital identities and data profiles, allowing consumers to find out the materials used in manufacturing, where the product was made and how it was distributed, as well as advice on recycling.
  3. Efficiency is key when gathering data from suppliers, according to DuPont. DuPont is working closely with other chemical companies on a new platform to improve this, called Together for Sustainability. The companies will use the information to target corrective action measures or find other more responsible suppliers.
  4. Excessive working hours and poor conditions are endemic to the hi-tech manufacturing sector but Apple is working closely with its suppliers to help them comply with their code of conduct. Using risk-based audits, Apple is trying to keep on top of these issues, but is also calling for more, and points to the need for ongoing engagement with suppliers.
  5. Building on efforts to map the company’s supply chain back to its mills, Golden Agri-Resources has promised to have fully traceable (back to plantation) palm oil by 2020. The four-year plan is ambitious, but GAR will report on progress quarterly and the project will run in two phases, relying on the cooperation of thousands of farmers.
  6. Heineken is working hard to build a more sustainable supply base for its raw materials by focusing on increased local sourcing in Africa and making sure suppliers adhere to its code of conduct. Using SAI platform standards and risk assessments, Heineken are on track for 50% sustainable sourcing by 2020.
  7. This year, Fashion Revolution marked the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse with a week of action, calling for companies to monitor and audit their factories, and importantly, publish the results. In addition, we saw the launch of Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index, which looks at 40 of the industry’s top selling brands, and assessed their transparency based on five criteria.
  8. The realities and limitations of certification must be acknowledged. If your product is certified, it doesn’t necessarily mean all risk has been removed. Certification bodies must work to revise and improve their standards, instead of settling for basic targets/criteria.
  9. Brazil, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of sugarcane, has introduced measures to tackle social and environmental issues, including improving working conditions. The imminent end of EU sugar production quotas in 2017 is going to have big impacts on sugarcane producers, particularly those in developing countries.
  10. Migrants are often vulnerable to exploitation in the supply chain. In an effort to keep checks on this, Primark has doubled reviews of its factories in Turkey, to ensure Syrian refugees are not being exploited. However, Turkish factories only make up 100 out of Primark’s 1700 suppliers so there is always more work to be done.

For more useful insights, analysis, views and the latest key stats, facts and trends in supply chain sustainability, human rights and social issues, check out this link: Supply Chain Risk & Innovation, published by Innovation Forum.

We publish it ten times a year (250-260 pages a year), and in each issue we analyse the latest supply chain sustainability news, digest need-to-know industry reports, analyse trends, and looks at sustainable business innovations and key campaign trends to look out for. To sign up for a complimentary three-month trial, enter your details here: