Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Pandemic Has Pushed Environmental Concerns Back for the Majority of British Businesses

As Supply Chain Players Talk Up COP26 the Truth is Somewhat Different Says New Report
Shipping News Feature

UK – Whilst everybody in the world of transport is talking up both the ravages of the pandemic and the efforts they are putting in to negate their environmentally detrimental emissions, a recent report from supply chain and logistics consultancy SCALA makes worrying reading.

The ‘Legacy of Lockdown on Supply Chain Sustainability’ report concludes that in terms of efficacy British businesses in the sector are not doing nearly as well as might be hoped when it comes to identifying how the challenges of Covid19 have affected their businesses environmental impact, with only 18% of responders having accurate measures in place to identify these factors.

Even more telling the report, aimed at supply chain sustainability, showed 32% have no measures in situ to monitor the total impact of their operations on the world at large. This means that thousands of businesses across the UK have no true 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 the sector 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, this 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.

“As the world’s attention focused on the COP26 summit in Glasgow this November, more is needed to inform businesses on the steps they can take to monitor and reduce their emissions, which may have significantly increased over the past eighteen months. Businesses clearly need direction and support in mapping their footprint and identifying issues within the supply chain is a great place to start.”

As well as asking for support of this type, which presumably must emanate largely from government alongside firms such as SCALA, John Perry also feels further unilateral positive actions might include reducing waste packaging, increasing vehicle fills and improving vehicle efficiencies.