Building a Sustainable Supply Chain

A sustainable supply chain layers financial stability with environmental impact solutions and a company’s contributions to society.

Implementing sustainable practices in your supply chain is often favored in the consumer’s eyes and can showcase your brand as an agent of needed change in the industry.

Supply chains that ignore the impacts of their decisions can do quite a bit of damage. Water pollution exacerbated droughts, harmful effects on local ecosystems, and labor violations are just a few of the potential consequences of opting out of sustainability efforts. All of that can undoubtedly turn consumers off from a company, as well.

Why Sustainability Initiatives Are Important

In the current climate, many consumers are looking to companies to be leaders in ethical business practices. Those who adapt to include both in how they operate are at a competitive advantage over companies who ignore changes happening around them. A green, socially conscious supply chain can even become part of an organization’s brand.

Sustainability initiatives can eventually lead to financial gains and a stronger bottom line. In addition, customers passionate about sustainability initiatives may look to brands that align with their ideals. In addition, the turnover rate at your organization may decrease with these initiatives. Finally, adopting sustainability programs can also mean making processes more efficient, saving the company money down the line. 

In transportation specifically, fuel efficiency is an obvious way to save costs, particularly in companies reliant on on-road transit to keep the supply chain moving. In addition, it’s a great way to boost sustainability in road transportation, particularly as green transit becomes even more of a focus at both the state and national levels.

A company must make profits to survive, but those profits can come from a more sustainable global supply chain.

Small tree growing with sunrise

Environmental Impact Considerations

Companies looking to consider the environmental impact of their actions can start small when looking to make changes to their supply chain. Here are some ideas that keep the environment in mind and may support the financial stability of an organization, as well:

  • Adopt technologies that support less waste, such as digital customer trials rather than paper-based processes. Technologies typically have the added benefit of improved efficiency. Encourage innovation across the board that supports sustainability performance.
  • Consider reducing energy and water use. Where can efficiencies be introduced to impact both and reduce an organization’s carbon footprint positively?
  • Reuse and recycle where possible to reduce overall waste at an organization, and be consistent about it. 
  • Be aware of every aspect of the supply chain. For example, consider transportation with a low carbon footprint. Think about altering codes of conduct to make transportation more efficient or the consolidation of goods to reduce energy use. Pay attention to international regulations that are already very concerned with the state of supply chain sustainability
  • Do business with vendors who have a solid sustainability strategy, and be vocal about those relationships. Look to local vendors who are already doing the work to produce goods that are ethical and sustainable. Consumers want to feel good about their interests and know that those goods are coming from an honest place.


Social Responsibility Considerations

Creating an environment where social action is a long-term component of an organization’s business is a timeless strategy. No matter the state of affairs outside of a company, taking a stand on popular, consumer-friendly issues makes for good business sense, on top of a company prioritizing people.

Consider these strategies to boost your social responsibility profile:

  • Create avenues for charitable contributions that fit the organization’s overall mission, and revisit those contributions regularly.
  • Align with causes that make sense, as well, perhaps donating more than funds but tangible goods that may otherwise go to waste.
  • Treat employees well, offering a model to other organizations within the supply chain for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions. Take worker health and safety seriously, something many companies had to take a hard look at during the global pandemic. A happy workforce can become like a free positive press for a company and reduce costly turnovers or situations where an organization is short-staffed. 
  • Create an environment where employees may voice their concerns and opinions about social actions. Communicate and allow for communication in a way that gives a platform to all voices. Take cases where company leaders go against new norms seriously so that it appears that a company is taking its own renewed sense of social responsibility seriously.
  • Listen to the public, particularly if under scrutiny. Don’t become defensive. If your organization needs support identifying areas of improvement, consider consulting with third-party logistics providers. 


Consult a Third-Party Logistics Company

A third-party logistics company (3PL) supports commonsense and targeted strategies for every aspect of the supply chain. That can include strategies around environmental sustainability and ethical decision-making in everything from the planning to the packing to the freight forwarding at a company.


Contact HLOG today to learn more about the benefits of third-party logistics and how we can help your business grow as an organization, becoming more financially viable and sustainable in the process.