Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important topic, especially in the logistics sector – which means that responsibility for companies is growing more and more. The vision: A fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

In this context, here is a short foreword from us: we want to say a few words in advance to position ourselves on this topic. 
We value our customers very much – especially for their sense of responsibility to create more sustainable work and production conditions and therefore make the world a better place. With our OSCA CSR software, we do our part and support our customers on this mission. Now, we don’t pretend to be perfect when it comes to this topic but we want to take the step in the right direction and try to act as sustainably as possible even when it comes to small details. 

“Sustainability” – This word seems to be almost everywhere. The media is practically overflowing with it and of course it sounds good. Of course it IS a good thing.
“I stand for sustainability!” Ok. Some may say this sentence, but usually they are not really aware of the complexity behind it. Mostly due to the inflationary use we may think that we know what it means, but do we really? We are impatient these days, everything is moving so fast and that is exactly how we want it. Mostly. Because sometimes, especially in the time of digitization we wonder what happened to the good old walking pace – but that’s a whole other topic.

Still – sustainability penetrates so many areas of life, both as private individuals as well as companies. Sustainability is omnipresent. When we want to get down to it, we need to clarify the answers to some very basic questions:
What is sustainability anyway? Now it would be possible to break down the etymology, trace and dissect the components and carry out a linguistic-historical analysis – but we are neither linguists nor language historians, and presumably they are not the target group of this article either. Although – somehow it concerns all of us.

According to Logistik Heute (January 2019, 77% of companies invest in their supply chains to save costs. To make this aspect the main reason for optimizing supply chains is valid and every company has the right to do so. Of course it is an important point.

With regard to the numerous climate conferences in recent years, however, it is clear that it is precisely the environment that touches consumers. People want to counteract the grievances and calm their consciences. Today’s customers want transparency about where and how the purchased product was manufactured. For many, there is no longer any room for “cheap” products.

Some companies are already following this trend. A good example is KiK, whose sustainability report explains how they are committed to sustainable and fair production and products.

Poor working conditions, waste of raw materials and unnecessary costs. Companies today have a huge responsibility when it comes to sustainability. In supply chain management in particular, these issues are of great relevance – and companies have the opportunity to counteract these circumstances.

The elements of the sustainability concept are tangible things such as material, but also intangible things such as financial information, and are subject to the desire for sustainable obsolescence. This also includes the cooperation of all those involved in the supply chain.

What is sustainability?

From raw material suppliers, producers and retailers to the end customer. From this point of view and with regard to sustainable action, it is important not only to look at the end product. Social, economic and ecological responsibility within the framework of sustainable action within the supply chain requires a view of the entire process and each station. The simultaneous demand for cost reduction, low-cost products and good service can be realized through the cooperation of all partners within the supply chain. What does this look like in detail? Based on the so-called “three-pillar model”, there are three pillars that support the sustainability concept: ecological, economic and social. The model was introduced to the public in 1998 as part of the 13th Bundestag and the final report of the so-called Enquête Commission “Protection of People and the Environment”. It comes in different versions, but should always contain one statement: It is about the simultaneous, harmonious and “equal consideration of the three dimensions of ecology, economy and social affairs”. Each of these dimensions has a reason to exist, and to the same extent. Short explanations should briefly outline the terms.

Ecological sustainability describes the responsible use of natural resources and refers to the health of the ecosystem. By looking at all SCM processes, ecological problems can be perceived and avoided at an early stage.

Economic sustainability, on the other hand, should guarantee a high degree of employment, price stability and a balance in foreign trade.

Social sustainability seems to be the trickiest pillar of the three-pillar model. Not only does it contain a vague term that is difficult to define, it is also associated with problems with regard to measures. Because only depending on the definition can the measures be defined and implemented accordingly. But in general it can be said that social sustainability in logistics has grown to play an ever greater and more important role in recent years, not least because fair working conditions play a part in a fair supply chain.

What opportunities are there?
Risk management is an option to ensure a sustainable supply chain. By looking at the individual steps and processes, it is also possible to react in a timely manner to reduce environmental and health protection risks. Overall, risk management is responsible for social, economic and ecological risks.

A brief conclusion
We would like to address a versatile and above all eminent topic of logistics and the supply chain. Our aim is not only to provide informative content, but also to position ourselves on the subject of sustainability. We and many other private individuals and companies have recognized the responsibility and necessity of action – it is important to take up and reflect on this topic again and again. As we write these lines and the coming ones, we hope to promote and spread the awareness of actions that are sustainable.