How Sustainable is Your Supply Chain? Use This Questionnaire to Find Out

Sustainability is a collaborative process. There is only so much that any one business can do about acting responsibly on behalf of the environment or society without involving its supply chain and holding it accountable.

That’s why Ceres has created a free 20-page template (you have to register to download it) to help companies get a more complete picture of which business partners may be putting their own sustainability agenda at risk.

Originally developed for companies in the industrial sector, the new Ceres Supplier Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ): Building the Foundation for Sustainable Supply Chains offers a series of questions intended to identify, assess, manage and disclose potential risks within a company’s supply chain.

The questions center on general facilities information, environmental, social and governance concerns. Here are three examples:

  • Does the facility hold the necessary license(s) or permit(s) for and has the facility received any fines, prosecution, or warnings by regulators in relation to air emissions?
  • Does the facility have a system in place to reduce the environmental impact of energy use and greenhouse gases?
  • Does the facility consider Design for Environment (DfE) in its development of products?

Ceres consulted other organizations in developing the questions, including the Electronic Industry Citizen Coalition, the Global Social Compliance Program and Sedex.

Even though the questionnaire was developed specifically for businesses in the industrial sector, Ceres describes the tool as a "conversation starter" that helps any company understand where it is vulnerable and take steps to improve the sustainability of its operations.

"With the regulatory, reputational, legal and operational risks associated with sustainability issues rising, companies must understand how every one of their suppliers is performing on key environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics," says Amy Augustine, director of the Ceres corporate program.  "In short, companies are expected to ‘own’ and disclose the performance of their suppliers whether it relates to the human rights of their workforces or greenhouse gas emissions from their operations."

For the Ceres questionnaire:

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