Choosing from the many existing compliance schemes can be challenging for organisations who strive to work with suppliers that provide decent working conditions, respect the environment and align with industry-approved resolutions. To help promote good social and environmental practices in global supply chains, the Board of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has announced a new Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) that it aims to build into a robust programme to benchmark and recognize sustainability standards.
Industry expectations towards third party auditing and certification programs are currently diverging; the SSCI is intended to realign and support CGF companies by recognizing robust due diligence and sustainability practices, contribute to continuous improvement of auditing and certification schemes worldwide, and increase efficiency for suppliers and buyers by reducing audit duplication.
The SSCI will not create another social compliance standard and suppliers can not be audited directly against the SSCI criteria. Rather, it will provide buyers and suppliers with an open source list of recognized third-party auditing and certification schemes, as well as clear guidance on which schemes cover key sustainability requirements and apply robust verification practices.
“The creation of the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative is another example of the CGF’s focus on providing practical implementation support. Today, any company wanting to assess the sustainability of their value chains faces a confusing array of different technical standards and auditing approaches. The SSCI is designed to help them navigate through this complexity and make sustainable sourcing more efficient,” said Peter Freedman, Managing Director of the CGF.
By replicating the successful approach of previous CGF scheme management criteria, the new SSCI will streamline benchmarking processes across the Forum’s member companies. Technical working groups are developing the content of the SSCI scheme management benchmark criteria based on the CGF’s previous work creating criteria for the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), as well as ISEAL criteria. The SSCI criteria will include the following elements:
- Governance: scheme governance; scope and objectives; integrity programme; logo use and claims; standard-setting and maintenance.
- Operational Management/System: accreditation/oversight mechanism; relationship with audit firms; auditor competence; audit protocol; audit reporting; follow-up action; and Data management.
In addition to its members, the CGF will closely involve stakeholders in the development process for the SSCI. A public consultation open to all interested parties will take place in this summer, followed by the Initiative’s official launch in late 2018. This initial release will focus on social compliance with a view to expanding the scope to environmental compliance. The development process for the environmental benchmark is planned to begin in early 2019.
“We are working closely with The Consumer Goods Forum on the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative to support the development of socially and environmentally responsible supply chains around the world. The harmonisation of global sustainability standards is extremely important to us as a business and so is sourcing our raw materials sustainably,” said Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury's. “We hope this will provide our buyers and suppliers with clear guidance on third party audits and certification and avoid duplication and complexity of sustainability standards in our value chains.”