Establishing a truly sustainable supply chain sounds easier than it really is. This is because of the numerous tasks that companies must deal with to do so. Beginning with a comprehensive research of key figures and the necessary data concerning the suppliers’ obligation to deliver data, to building an infrastructure that makes the delivery of a CSR report possible, not only once a year, but at any time. And thus a 24/7 control over the company’s own CO2 footprint.

This is the only way in which management can have the possibility to recognize problematic conditions as well as trends in time, and act accordingly. But what key figures are relevant when it comes to your CO2 footprint?

A fashion label’s CO2 footprint includes its products and their production, but also their transport. The annual CSR report will reveal, at the latest, the amount of merchandise transported by ship, airplane, train, or truck, and which CO2 emissions are related to these. Or how many tons of organic cotton, recycled fabric, or down were processed. Ideally, the emission figures of the various suppliers and carriers will be compared to each other and consequences will be decided accordingly.

The Challenge

The best option would be to produce not only the required yearly CSR report for each product and even for the complete brand, but better yet, a monthly and even a weekly report This would give decision makers constant access to key figures, and would allow them to use these to make tactical and strategic decisions.

Collecting and especially collating all this necessary data, however, takes a significant amount of time. This is especially true when there is no direct contact with the suppliers. Yet many manufacturers are already included in the common indexes and voluntarily provide information and numbers regarding their production processes.

The ERP System Solution

Once the corresponding basic data has been entered into the ERP system, the CO2 footprint data are available any time via smartphone. Suppliers and service providers can/must manage their own CO2-relevant data through portals. If they forget, a reminder is sent automatically. Missing sustainability figures are shown clearly marked on the ERP system. This contributes to significantly reducing the maintenance and monitoring this data requires.

Many carriers are now included in the Higg Database–a self-assessment tool to collect sustainability data related to textile production. It’s connected to the ERP system via interface.

Even though transport cannot be optimized daily due to long-term contracts, carriers can be regularly put to the test regarding their sustainability.

Conclusion: ERP systems are good at identifying relationships between individual pieces of data. Thus can provide their user advantages not only in terms of their image, but also financially. This is because once the numbers are known, a more conscious use of energy, water, and other resources is possible.