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Tiffany, Unilever Create New Standards for Supply Chain Transparency

Tiffany & Co has become the first luxury jeweler to share the full craftsmanship journey of its diamonds; while satellite tech is helping Unilever root out deforestation in its palm oil supply chain.

Tiffany & Co. takes industry lead in diamond traceability

Image credit: Tiffany & Co.

This week, Tiffany & Co. announced that it will take an industry-first step in diamond traceability by sharing the full craftsmanship journey of its newly sourced, individually registered diamonds (0.18 carats or larger), starting in October.

For years, Tiffany has been open about its efforts to not only ensure that its gems are conflict-free, but that every link in its supply chain contributes to the wellbeing of people and the planet. In 2014, it declared that it sources 100 percent of its diamonds from known mines or suppliers with multiple known mines, and only from countries that participate in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme – which requires its members to certify shipments of rough diamonds as 'conflict-free' and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade. The company went further, though, in 2016 — when it recognized that, despite their participation in the Kimberley scheme, human rights abuses continued in countries including Angola and Zimbabwe; so, Tiffany refuses to purchase rough or polished diamonds from Zimbabwean or Angolan sources — and it implemented a Diamond Source Warranty Protocol, which requires diamond vendors to guarantee that loose polished diamonds were not obtained from these countries.

Then, in 2019, Tiffany committed to become the first global luxury jeweler to promise full transparency into its supply chain by providing the full provenance (region or countries of origin) of its individually registered diamonds.

“Today, we advance our commitment to diamond traceability one step further,” said Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Tiffany’s chief sustainability officer, said in a statement. “Our customers deserve to know that a Tiffany diamond was sourced with the highest standards, not only in quality but also in social and environmental responsibility. We believe that diamond traceability is the best means to ensure both.”

Offering this degree of supply chain transparency, an industry first among global luxury jewelers, is made possible by the company’s 20+-year investment in vertical integration.


Geospatial tech giving Unilever unprecedented transparency into palm oil supply chain

Image credit: Unilever

Meanwhile, Unilever has launched a pilot with Palo Alto-based geospatial data analytics experts, Orbital Insight to get unprecedented, well, insight into its palm oil supply chain.

Understanding and managing land use and land conversion in global supply chains, in a spatially explicit way, is increasingly critical for ensuring the sustainability of agribusiness sourcing and operations. But images alone can’t prevent deforestation; real-time visibility — and being able to identify links between the mills and the farms or plantations that supply them — is key.

“Better monitoring helps all of us to understand what’s happening within our supply chains,” said Marc Engel, Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer. “By companies coming together and using cutting-edge technology to carefully monitor our forests, we can all get closer to achieving our collective goal of ending deforestation.”

Unilever has been at the forefront of the CPG industry’s efforts to make sustainable palm oil a reality. In 2014, Unilever partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI), which enabled the company and its suppliers to use WRI’s Global Forest Watch platform to monitor forest cover change around commodity supply areas and processing facilities such as palm oil mills. In 2016, it was part of a working group that developed a unifying definition and coherent set of rules for ‘no deforestation’ palm oil. In 2018, Unilever and Indonesian government-owned palm oil plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate to support local mills and smallholder farmers in Indonesia to produce palm oil according to the standards of No deforestation, No development on peat and No exploitation of people and communities (NDPE). 

Now, its new partnership with Orbital Insight builds on the transparency Unilever achieved through Global Forest Watch – giving it an even clearer picture of where harvested crops are coming from, even down to the individual field; which, in turn, allows the company to predict the possibility of issues such as deforestation and, when found, to take action.

Unilever explained in a blog post that by combining tens of thousands of satellite images with geolocation data and applying artificial intelligence and scalable data science, its partnership with Orbital will yield unique insights by showing the predicted likelihood that a farm or plantation is supplying any given mill. Unilever and Orbital are working to finesse this into an operational methodology, and are testing the technology at a small number of palm oil mills in Indonesia and soy mills in Brazil.

Watch this video for a glimpse at Orbital Insight’s tech:

The company says that this approach can bring a new level of sophistication to traceability — one that has the potential to work on an industry-wide scale.

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