New UK Carbon Emissions Target: How to reduce within your supply chain

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The government has announced a new target for the UK to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. The IEA (International Energy Agency) have predicted a surge in CO2 emissions from energy this year as the world returns to some semblance of normality following the pandemic. The CCC (Climate Change Committee) have advised the government based on 1990 levels, however Environmentalists have warned that whilst meeting this target would be brilliant, ministers have consistently failed to meet previous targets outlined by the CCC.

The CCC believes around 1% of GDP would need to be spent on shifting away from fossil fuels over 30 years and if this is not applied to every sector then the UK will not deliver net zero by 2050. Chairman Lord Deben has stated that ‘the 2020s must be the decisive decade of progress and action.’ With this in mind, it is prudent to consider the ways in which we can reduce carbon emissions throughout the supply chain. 

Initially, we think of cutting back on packaging, the amount of plastic used and the implementation of circular supply chains to reduce waste. Take the life cycle of a product for example, what happens to a reusable bottle at the end of its life? Will it go to landfill and is this a factor when measuring carbon footprint? This is important to consider, alongside ways in which we can reduce and eliminate overconsumption/over manufacturing perpetuating the same carbon challenge. We must also think longer term and discuss how we can increase efficiency throughout the supply chain. 

For the UK to meet the new target, people will be encouraged to drive less, and to walk and cycle more. This is brilliant but to drive real impact we need to think bigger. We can apply this to the management of our supply chains. There are some clear fuel impact / product selection changes we can make as an industry, but change can be seen throughout the entire chain. The ‘Don’t Touch’ supply chain strategy is an interesting approach, which essentially aims to reduce the handling of products multiple times and moving said product from box to box unnecessarily. This strategy involves aligning package quantity to fulfilment / replenishment quantity, which also has a hand in reducing the amount of transportation required. Ultimately this can lead to commercial gains of lower costs, reduced lead time and increase responsiveness but more importantly this in turn reduces planetary impacts.

To meet the UK target, it is crucial to work with partners both in the supply chain and customers, find partners whose values align with yours and communicate with those partners to bring down impact. Similarly, when choosing raw materials, consider how environmentally responsible they are, as well as how suited they are to the user needs. 

Net zero means cutting emissions as much as possible, so it can be helpful to set personal sustainability targets for your business by integrating climate change into your business strategy. In order to reduce emissions, we must work together as a collective of businesses striving for positive change.

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