TSC Helping Eliminate Weak Links in Global Product Supply Chains

This dynamic Tuesday afternoon panel dissected Global Supply Chains, taking forward by The Sustainability Consortium's (TSC) newly released impact report, Greening Global Supply Chains: From Blind Spots To Hot Spots To Action. Robin Raj, founder and Executive Creative Director of Citizen Group, moderated the panel and framed the session with the question: "Why does greening global supply chains represent one of the most potent models for change for sustainability?”

Represented on the panel were TSC CEO Sheila Bonini; Laura Phillips, SVP for Global Sustainability for Walmart; Jonathan Atwood, Unilever’s VP of Sustainable Living and Corporate Communications, North America; Roian Atwood, Director of Sustainability for Wrangler/Lee/VF Imagewear; and Ben Packard, Managing Director of Corporate Engagement for The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Each speaker heralded TSC’s approach as a driver of growth and a lever for change: “The TSC has become a model to identify growth opportunities,” Jonathan said. With an enthusiastic call to action, he encouraged any private label to use the model, stating: “it's hard to be a sole winner in a supply chain; we need to lift together.”

Bonini described how the TSC “uses scientific evidence to create product categories which are the Hotspots and the most material issues, and then we create metrics, which are KPIs.” This allows for a consistent, science-based measurement system to support the rise of more sustainable supply chains globally.

Fertiliser application was discussed as one of the big issues in supply chains. TNC work closely with farmers, landholders and organisations along various companies’ supply chains to manage the environmental quality of their land. Packard urged us to consider how “our product supply chains are only as strong as their weakest links,” and reminded us how horrible some of those weak links can be with “cotton involving forced labour, basically slavery in some countries.”

.The question was put forward to the audience: “how well do you know your supply chain?” and The importance of face-to-face conversation with suppliers was highlighted. Roian encouraged us to “go and talk to the supplier/farmer who is the hotspot on your supply chain” as it is “often that conversation that instigates action.”

Observing that companies are really getting rewarded for their work to improve their supply chains, Phillips described the success of the 'Eat what you cook' program that Walmart has initiated internally. “We are taking executives on tours of their supply chain, taking them to landfills and on the boats that catch the seafood, so that they can see the impact.”

The opportunity offered by the TSC, Jonathan described, “leverages the systems already in place, allowing you to take these conversations and go and do something on Monday morning”; he closed by urging all those present to “give Sheila a call and join the Consortium.”

“The places to hide are getting smaller” he warned, encouraging those working in sustainability to “be intentional about who you want to be around, and surround yourself with the people and organisations that give you more confidence and energy.”

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