Sixty-four percent of respondents in this year’s Barloworld Logistics supplychainforesight report indicate that their companies have adopted sustainable business practices.
Of the remaining 36% of respondents, 23% say it will only be a priority in the next three years, 6% say it will be a priority in the next three to five years, 3% say it will be a priority in more than five years, and 4% indicate it will never be a priority.
The fifteenth iteration of the yearly report aims to create a snapshot of the state of green supply chains in South Africa, and to garner insight into the minds of local supply chain leaders when it comes to environmental practices.
Around 90% of respondents identified themselves as middle management. Respondent were largely drawn from the fast-moving consumer goods market, ICT industry, mining, retail and automotive sectors.
Almost half of the respondents fall into the category of small businesses with a yearly turnover of less than R100-million a year, with 32% being from large enterprises of more than R1-billion.
When asked to identify the stumbling blocks in implementing sustainable business practices, 68% of respondents point to budgetary constraints as the main obstacle, followed by lack of internal support, weak regulatory incentives and difficulty in achieving change. They also note that sustainable business practices often have a low strategic ranking among a plethora of business priorities.
Respondents also identify water and energy use as the main environmental issue in their supply chain, followed by waste management, carbon emissions and transparency and traceability.
“This year’s research may be topical at the moment, but the adoption of sustainable business practices is far more than a conversation piece or marketing slogan”, says Barloworld Logistics senior marketing and public relations manager Sarah Lubbe.
The lingering opinion that environmental practices are a grudge cost within local organisations is a short-sighted view, she adds.
“There is mainstream, empirical evidence to show that our natural resources require urgent care and attention. Added to this, is a growing change in consumer behaviour to emphasise the ethical nature of products – in some cases even above price considerations. These factors create a need to examine every aspect of a product’s value chain should organisations want to retain, or grow market share over the long-term.”
According to Lubbe the latest supplychainforesight data indicates that local businesses are indeed adopting tactical waste management and emissions programmes, but that these are reactive at best.
She highlights that respondents reported low adoption of sustainable practices within research and development, manufacturing and raw material sourcing.
If the footprint of a product is not mitigated at the start, the cost and waste burden of these at their end-of-life will continue to hamper the local public and private sectors alike, as well as individuals and the natural environment, she notes.