Unlocking Sustainable Success: Overcoming Key Hurdles

“Sustainability will become a key competitive advantage in the future. Investments in sustainability and transparency help reduce risk exposure and build loyalty with customers and employees alike.”
John Paxton, CEO of MHI [2] .

Words alone won't revolutionise supply chains; it's time to take concrete strides towards a more sustainable future. Here’s the steps you can take to transform your supply chain backed by survey data from over 2,000 supply chain professionals from Deloitte and MHI's 2023 Annual industry report.

The Rise of Sustainable Supply Chains

The bar continues to rise and the walls are closing in. 

Consumers, regulators, governments, social media and other stakeholders are increasingly expecting brands to be sustainable in every link of their supply chain. 

Now, supply chain professionals are feeling the pressure (and the data proves it). 

The Adoption Challenges

1. High Capital Expenditure Investment

Reducing your environmental impact comes with a price tag. Investments in technology, expertise and revised processes can be difficult to justify in competitive industries such as retail or D2C. Despite this, investment budgets for 2023 and beyond are surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

2. Supply Chain Rigidity

Businesses often find themselves grappling with inconsistent degrees of visibility and control over their operations. With layers of interconnected actors in their supply chain, balancing economic realities, supplier engagement, consumer demands, and international regulatory compliance becomes a complex and daunting task.

Overcoming the Barriers

1. The Feasibility Factor

Prioritise sustainability goals according to their potential impact and practicality. Identify the actions that make the largest impact comparative to their effort and cost. 

“A very easy and powerful way to reduce your footprint would be to think about inland logistics.  How can you shorten the distance? Can you choose another port? Can you rail or barge the container?”
 Kathrin Brost.  Vice President, Global Head of GoGreen Program. DHL Global Forwarding [1] .

Maximise your resources by concentrating your efforts where you can make the most significant impact.

2. Extend your teams reach with partnerships

There’s only so much your team can do on their own. Pool together the expertise of companies who align with your goals to reach targets that would otherwise be out of reach.

  • Invest in renewable energy sources
  • Create common reporting standards
  • Share best practices and resources

Leverage economies of scale, share best practices and foster an ecosystem with your stakeholders to make the future of freight better together. 

3. Leverage your Tech Toolbox

Being more sustainable doesn't have to mean more tasks in your daily to do lists. Investing in technology that streamlines your operations is the key to an eco-friendly future. 

Rather than adding complexity to your operations, this technology should replace processes that are currently manual, time-consuming, error-prone or inefficient. 

IoT Sensors

IoT devices provide real-time visibility into production, procurement, warehousing, and the transportation of goods.  

Digital Platforms 

The effectiveness of data is only as good as its ability to be understood by decision-makers. Digital platforms create an interface for analysing and  interacting with your supply chain ecosystem. 

Data Visualisation Tools 

Your data tells a story, so the most effective medium to understand your data is a picture book. Seeing data in the form of charts, graphs and maps is faster to digest than spreadsheets or reports.

“Investments in automation and other digital solutions like IoT, advanced analytics and AI arm your operations with speed, accuracy and improved visibility. These solutions enable the real-time decision- making and transparency necessary for reporting and improving performance up and down the responsible supply chain.”
John Paxton, CEO of MHI [2] .

4. Investing in your Team. 

Harnessing people power is the key to transforming sustainability goals into reality. Without clear commitment to sustainability from all levels of your organisation, your  sustainability goals will likely fall flat on execution.  

Hiring and retaining qualified workers was reported to be the top supply chain challenge of 2023. The second most challenging obstacle was talent shortages.

To stay ahead of the competition, develop a workforce that is positioned to thrive in the face of changes and disruptions. We’ve covered this topic at length.

Steps you can take now

1. Find and Prioritise Opportunities

Break down your supply chain into parts. Evaluate each section for opportunities to reduce carbon emissions. Sort the list of improvement opportunities by ease of implementation and potential for impact. 

2. Set your goals

Commit to some specific, measurable and achievable targets. Setting goals without communicating them is like shipping goods without a delivery address… they’re going nowhere. Continue to remind your team, suppliers, customers, and stakeholders that people, innovation and sustainability are your top priorities.

3. Make Connections

Collaboration is the best catalyst for transformative change. Research and reach out to other brands who share your vision for a more sustainable future. Identify the potential value exchange between your team and theirs and propose a partnership. 

Our partners make our sustainability services possible. Don’t know where to start, Contact us. Let us and we’ll be the first link in your sustainability network.

Consumers don't trust words, they trust action. Particularly when it comes to sustainability.  There is no one solution. Rather, there are multiple actions businesses must take simultaneously and immediately. 

Consumers, regulators, governments and other stakeholders want to see meaningful action - not just goals being set. It’s intimidating, but you’re not alone. 

If you need assistance in turning your activism into action, reach out to our team to see how you can decarbonise your supply chain with Explorate. Learn more about our emission tracking and management services here.


[1] TPM TV. "Episodes of exclusive TPM content". March 3rd 2023.

[2] MHI, Deloitte. (2023). “2023 MHI Annual Industry Report - The Responsible Supply Chain".

[3] Australian Financial Review. (2023). “Asset management and supply chains boosted by Massive IoT boom” .


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