“Where is your cotton from?”
Major brands know that the balance between making profit, social responsibility, and environmental protection can lead to a competitive advantage, and better business. Sustainability is becoming of utmost importance nowadays and will become the norm, if not a must, in the next 5 years.
With an increase in using sustainable material and ethical sources, there is also a troubling evolution in counterfeit “sustainability”, at the source, i.e the raw material producers, with the final manufacturer and the buyer often not even being aware of it. This is now an additional headache to deal with for companies sourcing in Asia and specially China, where most of the raw material come from.
False or exaggerated claims about sustainability is risky for brands. It might directly hurt you on the long run, from consumer boycotts to high-profile media coverage. Furthermore, it is being the subject of increased regulation and scrutiny to avoid misleading consumers as it is the case now in UK and Europe.
Read More: Greenwashing under regulatory scrutiny
Companies are still mostly relying on certificates and untraceable raw material for sustainable supply chain, with a major focus on final products for on-site audits and inspections, and this is precisely the reason there are difficulties to control it. But solutions are available to tackle it:
Traceability Audits are a first step of controlling the raw materials used for your products are meeting your sustainability and environmental requirements. (eg. organic, recycled, etc.)
Blockchain is obviously a more advanced solution, but a strong backup for more efficiency of the process and reliability of the information. (Provenance.org is a wonderful example)
Taking your sustainability seriously involves regularly auditing the raw material producer(s) and strict traceability processes, at the source to final manufacturing. And this will be even more relevant when most of your competitors will be offering sustainable products to your customers as well…
I am Habib Rkha, founder of QCADVISOR, a Quality Control agency providing Quality Control Solutions in China for retail, distribution and e-commerce entrepreneurs, with a constant focus on delivering the best product to the end user. I had the chance to work and learn for 10 years with Chinese suppliers and buyers from all around the World on different categories of products. I am Certified Auditor, Speaker at Global Sources fairs in Hong Kong since 2012 on Quality Control in China and I was previously a Quality and Engineering Director in a 3rd party Quality Control company. I am based in Shenzhen, China.