As pressure mounts on major corporations to be seen to be operating in a sustainable way, it has opened up a world of opportunities to a new breed of organisation dedicated to helping them get their supply chains in order.
Organisations like Apple and Nestlé have been joining the Fair Labour Association which monitors supply chains to eliminate child labour and other human rights violations.
The UK has seen the development of business communities like 2degrees which enable organisations to work with their supply chain partners to help them improve the sustainability of their operations and reduce their carbon footprints.
Now, Nike has formed a partnership with Swiss company bluesign technologies to accelerate the supply of sustainable materials and chemistries for use in Nike products.
bluesign will provide Nike’s supply chain with access to two tools — the bluefinder and the blueguide. The tools will be rolled out across Nike global supply chain, which spans nearly 50 countries and more than 800 contracted factories, with hundreds of textile manufacturers supplying the factories making Nike products.
The bluefinder allows suppliers to access pre-screened and more sustainable textile preparations, and enables them to manage restricted substances as well as increasing water and energy efficiency.
The blueguide gives Nike access to 30,000+ materials produced using chemicals from the bluefinder at facilities that have undergone assessment.
Why does Nike need to this? Well, it says, to access these tools and data without bluesign, a brand would need to take its supply chain through individual factory assessments. For an out-sourced global supply chain of Nike’s size, that would require significant investment and a number of years. The agreement gives Nike access to bluesign’s key tools and data for an expanded supplier base at nominal cost.
For many organisations, the preferred supply chain strategy will continue to be global and outsourced to some degree at least. But what is increasingly apparent is that managing aspects such as sustainability in a cost-effective way is going to require strategic partnerships with specialists.