Outsourcing: what about environmental accountability?

In business, and especially when it comes to the outsourcing of production, the following truism is used as a benchmark for commercial success: Delivery must happen – right on time, right on price, and right in terms of quality.

Yet nowhere is there a clause stating that all production processes must be strictly carbon neutral, and precious few South African outsourcers are concerned with anything beyond turning a profit and keeping staffing headaches to a minimum.

Not yet, in any event.

A carbon footprint? What a vague and wishy-washy Greenpeace concept.

What about minimum wage thresholds for outsource labourers?

What about bilateral empowerment deals and non-sweatshop, non-firetrap working conditions for “outsource employees” in foreign jurisdictions?


Now that you’ve established that your company’s outsourcing does not constitute a human rights violation, are you sure that its tight-fisted negotiation of outsourcing contract fees isn’t forcing suppliers to resort to non-environmentally friendly tactics in order to eek out a living?

Does your company’s level of payment enable suppliers to afford replacing their banged-up 1970s vehicle fleet with more modern, fuel-economical and environmentally friendly delivery vehicles?

Or do you leave your suppliers no option but to keep driving them into the ground?

Cost-effectiveness can be an acutely short-sighted consideration.

Take action

Start investigating how you can empower your production line and outsourced suppliers to deliver – on time, within budget and carbon neutral in terms of environmental sustainability. Then take your finding and get key role players to champion the cause.

The WWF carbon footprint calculator isn’t a bad place to start. Also visit trees.co.za for inspiration how your company could get involved with Food and Trees for Africa, South Africa’s sole national non-government, non-profit, greening organisation. 


2 Responses

  1. Great to see this information getting out!

  2. […] As South Africa prepares for a massive influx of tourists and potential foreign investors in 2010, companies will do well to start planning early for the next regulatory and reputational hurdle: Supply Chain Carbon Accountability. […]

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