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Watching Your Supply Chain Carbon Footprint

How can you reduce carbon emissions down the chain

23Nov

Climate change is a major threat to the world - the major threat if people like Bernie Sanders are to be believed. There is still some skepticism in certain circles around how much humans are responsible, but a 2013 survey of climate science papers found that 97% of the research agrees global warming is man-made. At over 400 parts per million, atmospheric carbon is skyrocketing, and we, as humans, have the power to slow this growth.

Pressure on corporations to lower their carbon emissions is coming from all angles. The UK, for one, has a legally binding carbon reduction target to cut emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050, and there is much government pressure on businesses to take their share of the burden. There is also great public pressure, with consumers now taking far more care to ensure that they do not buy products that overtly contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer. Whether it’s because of a sense of civic responsibility, government pressure, or purely being done for PR purposes, many firms are starting to play their part. Over two-thirds of the FTSE100, for example, now have carbon reduction targets in place, a number of which are currently being exceeded.

For companies looking to cut down on their carbon emissions, the supply chain is one of the first places to start. Supply chain leaders can positively affect carbon emissions in a number of ways, both directly, through initiatives like ensuring that all lightbulbs are energy saving, and indirectly, by collaborating with organizations up and down the supply chain and making cuts wherever possible.

Monitoring carbon emissions in the supply chain is no easy task though. This is because of the difficulties in measuring and influencing what companies down the supply chain are doing. Questionnaires are one way of having some influence, and, according to Carbon Clear, 75% of FTSE100 companies either provide a questionnaire about carbon emissions for their suppliers or consider carbon emissions as part of their procurement policy. Companies need to work directly with suppliers to help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and support the development of product carbon footprinting, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport and logistics. This is especially true as globalized supply chains become more commonplace, and ensuring that air travel is avoided wherever possible is integral to a carbon reduction policy.

One way of helping this process is putting targets in place and clearly communicating them down the chain. How successfully these targets are being met needs to be regularly reported by all members of the chain in order to motivate them. Tackling carbon emissions requires an holistic approach, and a carefully considered plan that is put in place throughout the chain.

Coca-Cola HBC is a leading example of a company committed to reducing emissions. Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) is a leading bottler of brands of Coca-Cola Company. It has recently stated its commitment to reduce water and direct carbon emissions intensity by 30% and 50% respectively by 2020, following its endorsement by Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) as the world sustainability leader in the beverage industry. It also placed eighth out of the top 100 companies listed on the FTSE 100 Index for its carbon reporting by Carbon Clear, and first within the beverage sector.

Such companies are a shining beacon, and the kudos they are given is a clear encouragement for others. Reducing carbon emissions is everyone’s responsibility. Consumers need to make sure that they buy goods from firms focused on reducing carbon emissions, and companies need to make sure that they are the firms that the carbon conscious are comfortable buying from.

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