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IW Consult study: CO2 footprint in supply chains

Digital product descriptions and standards that simplify the structure of the purchasing portfolio and the management of suppliers reduce the effort and costs of companies in the area of sustainability measurement. The integration of corresponding sustainability criteria will be a central requirement for product data standards.

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© shutterstock | Michael Rosskothen

"The use of established, digital product standards to describe the sustainability indicators offers various micro and macroeconomic advantages:

  • The effort and costs for recording the sustainability indicators are significantly reduced compared to analog solutions. Companies and Germany as a business location are becoming more competitive.
  • Information about adjusted sustainability values for suppliers and upstream products can be transferred directly to your own sustainability reporting via existing systems. Loss of information during the transfer from non-standard information sources is avoided. The sustainability figures are adjusted promptly and efficiently.
  • Violations of reporting obligations and the associated possible penalties are avoided. This reduces the companies' financial risks.
  • By simply recording the sustainability indicators, cost-based incentives for companies to concentrate on as few suppliers as possible from the most developed countries possible are limited. A weakening of the resilience of the supply chains is avoided. The development-promoting integration of companies from poorer countries into the international value-added networks is retained.
  • The increased transparency of the sustainability of comparable products would also give companies the opportunity to specifically control the sustainability of their purchasing portfolio. In competition with other companies, they could be more motivated to improve the sustainability of their own processes.
  • Last but not least, a standardized digital description of the sustainability of products would bring with it the opportunity to identify deviating recording methods used by individual companies by recognizing significantly different key figures and subsequently adjusting them. This could lead to faster standardization and unification of the methodology for recording the CO2 indicators of products and companies.

As an ISO and IEC-compliant data standard for the classification and clear description of products and services, the reference data standard ECLASS, which is particularly widespread worldwide in industrial value chains, offers optimal conditions to support companies in fulfilling their reporting obligations with regard to the required sustainability characteristics of their products. Companies can already reduce their material costs in purchasing by 8.5 percent when using it. ECLASS users name an optimized structure of the purchasing portfolio and a clearer structuring of purchasing management as additional advantages."

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