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Railsponsible Initiative Out to Rope Railroads into CSR Commitments

Last week, EcoVadis, operator of a collaborative, sustainable global supply chain platform, announced the launch of Railsponsible, an initiative to drive sustainability throughout the railway supply chain. Six companies in the railway industry - Alstom Transport, Bombardier Transportation, Deutsche Bahn, Knorr Bremse, Nederlandse Spoorwegen ("NedTrain") and SNCF - participated as founding members of Railsponsible for the launch on March 4th in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Founding signatories of the Railsponsible Charter committed to a vision of high standards for suppliers across Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) criteria of environmental, social issues and ethics. The Railsponsible mission is to embrace continuous improvement, share best practices, drive common understanding across the industry, and to use common tools to create efficiencies.

To this end, Railsponsible selected the EcoVadis Supplier Sustainability Ratings Platform as the standard set of tools and processes to assess, monitor and improve supplier CSR performance.

"Along with our partner BSR, EcoVadis initiated this effort because we saw the opportunity for four of our existing clients (Alstom, Deutsche Bahn, NedTrain, and SNCF) to join with their other industry peers to realize similar synergies as our other collaborations," said Pierre Francois Thaler, co-CEO of EcoVadis. "On one hand, procurement teams face challenges such as finding reliable sustainability indicators in a myriad of standards and regulations, and scales across global supply chains. On the supplier side, they are faced with multiple duplicative surveys and little guidance on improvements. This industry collaboration, combined with the EcoVadis platform, solves these challenges with a universal CSR scorecard rating and sharing system."

Eco Vadis has powered two other vertical industry initiatives; Together for Sustainability for the chemical industry, and E-Tasc in the Telecom/ICT sector.

"In addition to network efficiencies such as up to 90 percent onboarding rate and over 80 percent cost savings, they get reliable CSR scorecards that are 100 percent actionable, and can be integrated via API," elaborated Thaler. "EcoVadis ratings are being used for example as criteria for RFI/tenders, thresholds for supplier recognition and innovation programs, and is guiding over 70 percent of suppliers to improve their sustainability score upon second evaluation."

The Railsponsible initiative is open to all railway operators and companies across the value chain. Members will kick off the first common supplier assessment campaigns this month.

Several global companies are making an effort to make freight transportation more sustainable. FedEx, Walmart and UPS continue innovating to improve the efficiency of their truck fleets, while in Europe, Unilever has shifted away from energy-guzzling trucks toward train travel.