Product Stewardship: enabling retailers to find gold

RP_Cart_blueRetailers across the world do now recognize the fact, that managing the complete life cycle of the products they sell can help them.

It helps them identify opportunities to cut costs and innovate products, as well as identify potential business and supply risks. They call it product stewardship.

In this blogpost I will try and highlight how retailers (and others) can work with product stewardship.

The consumer product supply chain is one of the most complex ones. It typically spans across countries and cultures. Also for a retailer, the greatest environmental, social and economic impacts and challenges lies in the supply chain.

Retailers can, if they intervene in their product supply chains, achieve business and environmental benefits such as stronger supplier relationships, lower transportation costs, greater transparency as well as mitigated risks and costs.

Already now retailers and suppliers have started improving business performance by developing training programs, initiating collaborative projects and by integrating a sustainable mind-set into the supply chain. Though retailers need to be more structured and actionable in order to find the “real gold” and convert it to the economic as well as the green bottom line.

Retailers are at different stages on the road to managing the full lifecycle impacts. According to the 2013 Retail Sustainability report, 4 out of 5 retailers intend to engage in nearly all aspects of product supply chain sustainability within the next 5 years.

Efficiency in a product’s lifecycle must be a journey, that incorporates the “seed” of a contract, through to the “shoots” of product design, manufacture, transport, sale, and the “fruits” of product use, all the way to the “composting” at the end of a product’s life.

Only 48 % state that they incorporate environmental considerations when designing products. Design is the first stage in any products life.

Considerations like product size, ingredients or materials, function, energy usage specifications, packaging, recyclability etc. influence the future impacts associated with the manufacture, transport, use and disposal of the product.

Therefore, designing products with an eye to environmental efficiency, cost savings and product innovation is crucial.

In order to be able to do so retailers need to be internally aligned and partnerships with suppliers need to be in place.

Life Cycle Analysis is a key tool for assessing the lifecycle impacts of products.

A lifecycle analysis puts focus on the use of raw materials, manufacturing processes, transportation and typical use and disposal of products to calculate the impact of products across the full supply chain.

At Responsible Procurement Excellence we have also specialized in helping retailers:

  • We support establishing clear goals for a Product Stewardship/Lifecycle Efficiency approach
  • We help them understand the impact of decisions at each stage of the value chain by visualizing the “hot spots”
  • We develop future product design scenarios – by facilitating an innovative dialogue with the suppliers
  • If possible, we support the supplier in creating the plans to minimize the impact: Rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle
  • We help spread and sustain learning’s with key stakeholders: develop guidelines and policies based on projects and learning’s for the retailers other suppliers
  • We work with suppliers and buyers – raising capability and awareness through supplier seminars and best practice sharing.

400x400_alis-001Responsible Procurement Excellence has specialized in helping companies around the world develop and integrate an actionable approach to Responsible Procurement. An actionable approach goes beyond compliance, has a positive effect on the reputation, raises efficiency and generates revenue.

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Contact Responsible Procurement Thought Leader Alis Sindbjerg Hemmingsen if you want to know more about Life Cycle Efficiency.

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