The industry research on supply chain sustainability, conducted by leading supply chain and logistics consultancy, SCALA, found that almost a third of businesses (32%) have no measures in place to monitor the total impact of their operations. This means that thousands of businesses across the UK have no idea of the extent of their current carbon footprint.
Due to enforced lockdowns in 2020, UK businesses had to largely migrate to online sales, with 89% of non-grocery respondents reporting a ‘significant increase’ in online sales.
This shift to online resulted in additional transport, packaging, and warehousing needs – many of which had an additional, sometimes-significant environmental impact. 67% of businesses surveyed reported an increase in transport requirements, 34% reported an upsurge in the usage of warehouse space – exacerbating the already-serious nationwide shortage – and 50% said they have seen a rise in packaging costs.
Commenting on the research findings, John Perry, managing director at SCALA, said: “The past year and a half has had a seismic impact on businesses and their supply networks. Whilst many consumers stayed indoors due to the ongoing complications of the pandemic, businesses worked hard to meet the increased demands for home deliveries and online purchasing, understandably prioritising business critical decisions over any real consideration for their environmental impact.
“Whilst our research has revealed that 18% of businesses across consumer product sectors have measures in place to understand how the pandemic has affected their businesses’ environmental impact, this is simply not enough.
“The problem companies have when it comes to addressing the sustainability of their business and supply chain is getting started.
“Mapping the supply chain, measuring their emissions and identifying the specific areas of their organisation where environmental action can be prioritised is a great place to start.
Further positive actions might include reducing waste packaging, increasing vehicle fills and improving vehicle efficiencies.
He said more needed to be done to inform businesses on the steps they can take to monitor and reduce their emissions, which may have significantly increased over the past 18 months. Businesses clearly need direction and support in mapping their footprint and identifying issues within the supply chain is a great place to start.