Sciencedaily: Limited scope of corporate sustainability revealed

 

 

The first large-scale analysis of corporate practices for sourcing sustainable materials shows that many companies address sustainability at some level, but most deal with only one or a subset of materials within a small portion of their supply chain.

 

You want chocolate. You scan the market shelf for a bar with a Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance certification because you don't want your indulgence to drive labor abuse and deforestation. It's the right thing to do, right?

 

But buying ethically sourced products is not as straightforward as it might seem, according to Stanford researchers who undertook the first large-scale analysis of sustainable sourcing practices. While more than half of the global companies surveyed apply sustainability practices somewhere in their supply chain, according to the study, these efforts tend to have a much more limited reach than consumers might imagine given media attention to the issue and the proliferation of sustainable product labeling.

 

"Our results show a glass half full and half empty," said study coauthor Eric Lambin, the George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor in Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

 

The paper, published Feb. 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, relates sourcing practices to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, an agenda for a sustainable global economy. With global supply chains touching more than 80 percent of global trade and employing more than one in five workers, corporate supply chains have the potential to play an outsized role in achieving the U.N. goals.

 

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