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Article | 05/23/2019 05:45:56

Supply chain responsibility boosted by collaboration

Responsible sourcing is high on our agenda. We have worked hard to ensure that our supply chains follow the principles of sustainable development. Global supply chains today are complex and with collaboration everyone has access to information on the suppliers’ sustainability performance.

UPM joined the Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative last year. Companies belonging to TfS promote sustainability practises within their supply chains and comprehensively share the sustainability information they have on their suppliers.

UPM is actively searching for new solutions in cooperation with customers, suppliers and partners. The TfS cooperation improves transparency in our supply chains and the efficiency of UPM sustainability assessments and audits.

“At UPM we audit approximately 100 companies in our supply chain every year when TfS is able to audit some 300 annually. In the past twelve months we have identified many of our suppliers to have been audited by TfS already. Because the necessary information is provided by TfS we are able to focus on other companies,” says Nina Norjama, Director, Social Responsibility at UPM.

Working together with suppliers

TfS has a standardised process to assess and develop the sustainability performance of suppliers. The assessment covers company environmental impacts, health and safety, labour and human rights and company management and governance. The assessments and audits benefit both the TfS member companies and the suppliers who do not have to repeat a very similar assessment over and over again with each of their customer companies.

“The supplier provides the necessary sustainability information in an online service platform, hosted by EcoVadis. EcoVadis analyses and rates the answers and verifies the documents provided. EcoVadis also provides information on the strong points as well as the areas for improvement. The company and supplier always have the option to discuss the assessment between themselves as well,” says General Manager Gabriele Unger from TfS.

“The TfS assessments are available for all member companies through the online service. Members can make use of them directly or they can ask selected suppliers to provide assessments. If a supplier is not found in the system, member companies can nominate suppliers in their industry for assessment,” Unger adds.

Besides document-based online assessments TfS executes on-site audits. The scope of these audits is the same as the audits executed by the companies themselves, or third parties.

If necessary, a corrective action plan is created after the audit. “Typically, we have actions related to the environment, such as storing hazardous chemicals and material or to fire protection on site. Then we have issues under the human rights and labour law chapters such as respecting daily working hours or correct payments for working overtime.”

“Our main goal is TfS members truly engaging with suppliers. This is not just about auditing and reporting. The members should really look at the results and corrective action plan and then work together with the supplier in making sure the agreed upon improvements truly happen,” emphasises Unger.

A significant chemical supply chain

UPM's traditional businesses have high exposure in the chemical industry supply chain, not only when it comes to chemical raw materials but also on equipment and services.

“We actively develop our product portfolio and have great growth potential especially in the biofuels and biochemicals businesses. This means we are inching towards the chemical industry. Yet another reason cooperation with TfS is a logical step for us,” estimates Norjama.

 

Text: Vesa Puoskari