绿色供应链

Design thinking on green supply

案例实践作者:Bill Kung 版权:龚万彬 (261)

2019-06-22 18:56:34

Can you snap a finger and the universe will work in your way as Thanos did in Avengers movie? if you can’t, why do you think building a green supply chain and green products is as easy as issuing an order?  

 

What could have possibly gone wrong?

 

Simply put, you can’t make an ‘order’ for sustainability, not in your company, your product, and definitely not in your supply chain. By command and control, you may create an illusion of green business, but you know more than anyone else, you can’t trust the makeups, it is you - buyers or brand owners - who will eventually need to face the cold hard truth, the truth revealed by DATA, and until then, you know how much green-washing, the disguises over product and supply chain can really hit you on the face.

 

Ok, I get it. You said: But I have to place an order, this is how I do business, otherwise without surveillance, the suppliers will discharge poisonous material into my product, or to the air and water near their factory, I have to order it to make it right. And you know what, I think I have to watch more carefully and order for more audits, because you know, they (the suppliers) are very sneaky…you said, with bitter smiles.

 



 

Under a fixed mindset, you think the environmental requirement is a compliance issue, a cost to business and a burden to be gotten rid of. Slowly but eventually, you may find yourself entrapped, suffocated by the more and more stringent regulations and requirements, in China and somewhere else.

 

Or maybe you are wrong, your suppliers don’t want to put poisonous staff in the toys, food or clothes, they also want to protect their community and neighborhood, they also want to contribute to the world and environment? Maybe it is time we change the stereotypes of the fixed mindset that suppliers can only be ordered to behave right, without audit and supervision, things will go wrong - rather, can we believe that suppliers can also choose to act right themselves? They can also learn and grow? They also want to do the right thing, with or without order?

 

With this latter believe for a virtuous growth cycle, then the question will be: how can we, as buys or policymakers, foster a system and environment that can support suppliers make their own decision, choose a path that suits their own development needs, in the meanwhile, help the whole value chain meet the challenge of climate change and achieve the sustainability goals?

 


 

What can we do?

 

I asked myself the same question, as a private firm focusing on product and business sustainability solutions for around a decade in China, how can we help business, big or small, to meet the target of slowing down the temperature rise below 1.5 Celsius in the upcoming 10 years, how can we speed up the sustainability journey for a more promising future?

 

Since IPCC issued its most recent report on the urgent climate change crisis, and UN published the report about 1 million species under the risk of extinction this year, I spent the last few months puzzling about the challenge: what could have possibly gone wrong? Have we not done things rightly? Did we miss anything important on the map? Or Is the technology or policy not ready? I discussed this issue any chance I got with colleagues, clients and anyone who might share some insights into this topic…

 

Most people said that the problem is from the demand side, i.e. consumers and markets do not buy in, there is no market for green, hence there is no incentive for business. So green relies on government policy mainly. But the government cannot manipulate market needs, hence there is a deadlock here, in short, not promising future for sustainability.

 

And then I realize, the answer to the missing puzzle is that we are working on the wrong question. Human beings incline to solve immediate problems with solutions, but the biggest risk is maybe we are tackling the wrong problem, maybe we should dig deeper and work on the issue that caused the problem in the first place? For instance, we spent billions of dollars fighting pollution, and tremendous effort on ensuring compliance, but only a tiny fraction was spent to really understand the cause of the pollution and finding alternatives. As a temporary solution cannot cure the disease permanently, we need to rethink how human beings can harmoniously co-exist with nature including other species, how we can design our product, business and supply chain environmental sustainably, and we need to really show our commitment toward sustainability.

 

To help mitigate the climate change risk by controlling the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees, and save millions of endangered species, we need more than building more wastewater pipes and bigger capacities for waste treatment, making incremental changes to plant efficiencies, instead, we need innovative and transformational changes that will help fight the crisis, bring much more value to the environment and society by each dollar invested. To deal with this global challenge, we need more than compliance, a fixed mindset to merely follow bottom lines, we need a growth mindset, where exponential growth in economy, society and environmental sustainability is possible, and a necessity.

 

So how can we start, as our name - 1mi1 - stands for achieving sustainability, one step at a time, I think we could really start by integrating environment footprint into our life, including the product we purchase, the activities we conduct, and the policies and decisions we make every day. With the environment data, we can then as consumers spent money more eco-wisely, as businesses provide greener products and services, as investors choose more greener initiatives (such as 1mi1 platform for eco-design), and as policy makers create a better environment to support growth, more sustainably. 1mi1 is working with hundreds of brands, suppliers, retailers, universities and institutes to design greener products, make better standards and policies to support the market, and even invent ‘green money’ to support green consumption and behavior… the journey has started, we believe it will make all the difference.

 

After millions of years’ evolution, by the commitment of love, learning, and caring for each other, human beings have become one of the most resilient species in the world. Today the crisis on climate change and environmental degradation calls for our commitment to sustainable development more urgently than ever. We will succeed if we commit to solving the problem together, now, it is time for action.

 

Are you in?


Suggestion? please contact author's email: bill.k2 at 1mi1.cn


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