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Story | 03/23/2021 10:43:38

Collaboration with the aim of responsible supply chains

UPM has set a target of reducing its supply chain emissions by 30 percent against 2018 levels by 2030. We need exhaustive information on how suppliers are performing to meet this target. There is currently, however, no comparable way to report emissions from sourced products and raw materials, and the emissions that come from their transportation.

“Supply chain emissions are largely calculated using secondary data from different databases and the general coefficients drawn up from this data. This means that when it comes to sustainability, we can’t separate progressive suppliers from the weaker suppliers. We can only reduce our emissions if we know the level at which they really are and can choose the best partners based on this information,” says Tuomas Niemi, Manager, Reporting and Standards, UPM.

Ambitiously towards a future beyond fossils

Due to the complexity of global supply chains, collaboration between various parties is necessary to increase understanding. The chemical industry’s Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative is a great example of efforts to develop the sustainability practices of supply chains and share comprehensive information about suppliers. UPM is closely connected to the chemical industry through its businesses and this is why we are one of the approximately 25 member companies participating in the initiative.

“In maritime transport, for example, there are big operators that can provide data about their actual emissions online.”

Scaling up the supplier evaluation with Together for Sustainability network

 “The goal of the TfS collaboration is to gather comparable primary supply chain data that has been reported according to the same standards. Shared reporting practices benefit all parties. If the reporting can be done within one platform, it eases the burden of reporting significantly both for the suppliers and the customers,” Niemi says.

Suppliers are at different levels of readiness

According to Niemi, UPM has already had discussions with its suppliers that belong to certain supply chain categories about their readiness to report their emissions. The key areas, in addition to chemicals, are logistics, pulp and pigments at a minimum.

“In maritime transport, for example, there are big operators that can provide data about their actual emissions online. This is obviously very different when compared to the basic factors calculated from the databases. However, even the suppliers that are not yet able to report their emissions in a precise way have been very committed to the development work,” Niemi says.

Carbon footprints as tools to demonstrate impact

According to him, common practices would greatly facilitate the emissions calculations for supply chain materials such as chemicals, as well as fillers and binders used in paper production.

“I think that, in the future, the data on carbon dioxide emissions should circulate in the same, controlled way that financial information does in financial administration systems. It is financially very valuable data, after all,” Niemi comments.

Ensuring responsible sourcing

Better understanding, more precise reporting

Niemi says that once the initial situation and the key categories have been mapped, we should start by establishing the critical obstacles standing in the way of collecting data and enhancing its credibility.

“The aim is to get more suppliers to take part in the work and engage in the common targets. We will get closer to the ultimate target, which is a carbon-neutral supply chain, when we have more data and can increase the emissions reduction measures,” Niemi concludes.

Text: Timo Nykänen