SA companies fall short in greening their supply chains

South African companies have a long way to go in greening their supply chains – and a shift in consciousness is critical.

According to Marilize Worst, managing director: environment at Smartmatta, change requires a complete redesign of how companies are thinking and strategising.

“We are still parking sustainability in the Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) department right next to lost time and injury statistics and we think we are doing a good job,” she told delegates at the annual Sapics conference in Cape Town recently.

She said toxic pollution was impacting more than 200 million people and more than 783 million people did not have access to clean water, while there were more than 12 000 micro plastic particles per litre of ocean water.

“We will only win the battle when the desire to do what is right carries more weight than pure financial gain,” said Worst.

She said too often companies had all the right documentation in place and posters on their walls, but when staff was approached on the actual green activities in practice very little information was forthcoming.

“The mindset has to change. We have to move from talking and understanding sustainability to doing things differently. It cannot just be one of the strategies for an organisation.”

Worst said the base level of implementing a sustainable supply chain was reducing the company’s day-to-day carbon footprint, while also having a clear understanding of the up and downstream impact of it.

And while companies were doing the measurements and taking steps to reduce carbon emissions, the priority was still to achieve a financial target and real behaviour was not changing.

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