Sustainable supply chains

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We are seeing ever greater emphasis on how products are produced and how the entire supply chain performs in terms of sustainability. A business can take an active approach to sustainability issues within its own organisation, but if the product consists of materials that in turn have a high impact on the environment or are produced in a way that does not take into account social factors, the end product will not in fact be sustainable.

This is a complex field, as it can often be difficult, especially as a small business, to influence suppliers further along an often global supply chain that quickly branches out into numerous subsuppliers.

Aim to choose suppliers that fulfil relevant environmental requirements as well as social aspects such as protective clothing for workers, regulated working hours, fair wages and freedom to join trade unions. Choose suppliers that you have confidence in and can build a long-term partnership with, so that you feel you can trust the information they give you. Perhaps you can join forces with others in your industry who use the same subcontractors to have a stronger voice? 

Choosing goods with labelling such as the Nordic Swan, Good Environmental Choice, Fairtrade or organic is one way to ensure that they are better from a sustainability perspective, but not necessarily all. Choosing good-quality options that are long-lasting is generally also good from a sustainability perspective.
Voluntary labelling – the Market Surveillance Council

Questions to consider
  • Why have you chosen your particular suppliers?
  • Do you demand an active approach to sustainability from your suppliers?
  • How do your suppliers approach sustainability?
  • Do you know what the work environment and working conditions are like at your suppliers?
  • Do you buy eco-friendly materials and raw materials?
  • Do you opt for organic, eco-friendly and Fairtrade products when purchasing?
  • Are there things your business can hire or subscribe to instead of purchasing?
Links and detailed information

Swedwatch investigates companies and the extent to which they take responsibility for human rights and the environment, with a focus on countries or sectors with a particularly high risk of abuse. They provide training and issue publications.

The National Agency for Public Procurement has compiled information on sustainability in public procurement. The target group for this information is the public sector, but there are also tips on requirements to set for your own suppliers, and what applies if you aim to be a supplier yourself.
The National Agency for Public Procurement’s page on sustainability


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Responsible: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth

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