NICE, France (ICIS)--Sustainability was “a nice to have” differentiator in the chemical distribution sector but is now becoming an essential building block in the supply chain, both upstream and downstream, an industry executive said on Tuesday.
“Investors and pension funds are asking for disclosure of economic, social and environmental information from companies,” said Liam McCarroll, sustainability coordinator at Univar.
There is an opportunity now, he said, for chemical distribution companies “to create positive change” both internally and along the supply chain.
McCarroll was speaking at the FECC chemical distribution industry group annual congress in Nice, France.
Univar is committed to assessing, measuring and reporting on its sustainability performance, he noted, and aims for continuous improvement and open communication with stakeholders.
This year it has set goals to be achieved by 2021 in six areas of the supply chain.
A focus on sustainability, he added, can reduce supply chain interruption, reduce the risks of reputational damage and bring opportunities to innovate both products and services.
“It is ‘the right thing to do’ for society and business.”
For the future, McCarroll foresees greater transparency and accountability on sustainability performance, an increasing focus on innovation and collaboration, and a need to act beyond compliance as a norm, to satisfy a company’s own demands and those of stakeholders.
He also expects continuous growth of use of technology and more frequent reporting of performance as a result of the digital revolution.
Companies, he concluded, “need to take action now on material issues; make sure they are proactive, and avoid ‘greenwash’ by reporting transparently.”
Success will depend on three main factors - adoption of sustainability internally by companies, engagement with suppliers, and broad stakeholder collaboration.
“Failure to make changes now will cost us in the future. Today’s best practice will be standard tomorrow,” he concluded.
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