10.11.2021 // Politics

BME Logistics Study 2021: Management of sustainable supply chains still has "room for improvement"

The management of sustainable supply chains still has "room to grow" in some companies. Sustainability in supply chains is not always implemented on the basis of a concrete strategy and with defined responsibilities.

Photo: German Association for Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME)

The management of sustainable supply chains is already being consciously implemented by a large number of German companies. At the same time, however, there is still "room for improvement" at many companies. Sustainability in supply chains is not always implemented on the basis of a concrete strategy and with defined responsibilities. These are the key findings of the BME Logistics Study 2021 "Sustainability in Supply Chains".

The online survey was conducted jointly by the German Association for Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME) and Fulda University of Applied Sciences. 226 executives from purchasing, logistics and supply chain management took part in the survey. They do business in the industry, trade and service sectors. The aim of this year's BME Logistics Study was to record the status quo of sustainability and sustainability management in supply chains at companies in German-speaking countries.

"Companies are still too rarely implementing sustainability on the basis of targeted strategies and clearly defined responsibilities. This fact runs through almost all areas - from the organisation to the scope of operational implementation to concrete activities," emphasises Dr Helena Melnikov, Chief Executive Officer of BME. According to this, less than half of the companies surveyed currently have their own organisational unit for sustainability. Often, sustainability is still considered a "project" in the logistics or purchasing departments, which is processed alongside other tasks. "Companies that have already set up an organisational unit for sustainability are positive about its integration into the organisational structure and processes. This is a sign that there seem to be few friction points within the company," Ms Melnikov continues.

"The current study results prove that companies will have to pay much more attention to the issue of sustainability in the future. It is important to look at all links in the value chain," says Carsten Knauer, BME Head of Section Logistics/SCM, Specialist Groups Officer. In his opinion, sustainability in supply chains "should not be reduced to the company's purchasing alone. It is much more about creating a corresponding awareness among customers - for higher prices, for example. Because sustainability usually also causes higher costs."

"It is gratifying that there are pioneers who have recognised the importance of sustainability in supply chains for their own company. This can create opportunities and competitive advantages," explains Michael Huth, professor of general business administration, especially logistics, at Fulda University of Applied Sciences. At the same time, however, he believes that "too many companies only react to external demands for sustainability - and often only half-heartedly".

The BME logistics study "Sustainability in Supply Chains" was conducted between 17 May and 15 July 2021. Most participants came from the warehousing and transport industry as well as from the automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical and mechanical engineering sectors. Authors of the survey are Prof. Dr. Michael Huth (Fulda University of Applied Sciences) and Carsten Knauer (BME).

Download note: The results of the BME Logistics Study 2021 "Sustainability in Supply Chains" can be downloaded here.

Further information on the results of the study:
Carsten Knauer
BME e.V.
email: carsten.knauer(at)bme.de

Prof. Dr. Michael Huth
University of Fulda
email: michael.huth(at)w.hs-fulda.de

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