more than 95%

of consumer goods

$200B+

product sales

2500 +

companies around the world

Welcome from TSC CEO

Dear Readers,

We are so pleased to bring you the second TSC Impact Report: The Call for Collective Action Across Supply Chains.

Our first report, from 2016, was titled “Greening Global Supply Chains”. It showed the enormous benefits we get from consumer goods but also their enormous sustainability price tag. The products we buy and use are responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, three quarters of forced and child labor, and nearly two thirds of tropical deforestation. Using data from over 2,000 companies, the 2016 report showed how to turn blind spots into hotspots into action.

In 2017, we complete that story, laying out our strategy to turn Blind spots into Hotspots into Action into Growth. Our BHAG here is to deliver sustainability impact at scale. In an increasingly resource-constrained world, successful companies must decouple their future growth from social and environmental issues. TSC’s strategy is to help these leading companies deliver this positive impact at real scale.

This means recommitting to our mission: To use the best sustainability science to help companies make the everyday products we use better and more sustainable. We will deliver on this mission in two main ways: by driving impact through the implementation of our research and tools; and by driving impact through innovation, turning hotspots into growth.

This year has seen an unprecedented increase in the implementation of our work.

Consumer products worth over $200Bn in sales are now managed using TSC’s tools – a 50 percent increase on last year.

This stat is so important because it is at the heart of what we do: it is all about harnessing the demand signal from retailers, brands, and other major purchasers to super-charge the implementation of sustainability improvements right across the value chain. The Impact Report includes results for all of these.

The report also highlights some of our new work on innovation. TSC is using its convening power and sustainability expertise to bring together like-minded, leading companies, NGOs, and other stakeholders to launch Innovation Projects that tackle sustainability hotspots that can’t be solved alone. We all know that, if done right, a collective-action model can make rapid, market-changing improvements to unlock growth.

TSC is a tiny organization but as a collective endeavor it is enormous.

I’m reminded daily how exceptionally engaged our members are in our work – they are the driving force behind all that we do. And, in my first year as CEO, I’m delighted by the outpouring of support and engagement from our members, partners, and other industry leaders.

There is still a lot to be done, so I encourage you, dear reader, to get involved. Individual actions, when brought together, create the real change we need to unlock the growth potential in driving sustainability impact at scale.

Euan MurraySincerely,
Euan Murray
Chief Executive

Executive Summary

Every organization wants to know, what difference am I making?

The Sustainability Consortium has a single lofty mission – to help make all consumer products, around the globe, more sustainable. Are we there yet?

When an organization or initiative is young it measures progress by its inputs. In the early days of TSC, we measured progress by the number of members we had, or the amount of funding we obtained, or how many people came to a meeting. As our initiative matured into a concrete idea, we began to measure our progress based on process. Are stakeholders happy? Are we finishing our work on time? How much of the consumer product space are we now covering?

2017 represents a landmark year for TSC as we can now begin to see evidence of the real business change happening due to the work we have done together.

In 2016, over 2,000 suppliers used our category sustainability surveys to report their progress to their retail buyers, up 25 percent from the previous year. These suppliers represented over $200B in sales to their retailer partners. This number is even bigger if we consider that any of the changes that these manufacturers make to their products or processes will benefit all their consumers.

So, we know participation in using TSC’s KPIs is up and the numbers sound big – but is anyone doing anything differently because of it?

In early 2017, we asked suppliers who had taken TSC training to share their experiences about responding to the TSC survey. Over 250 suppliers responded, and 40 percent of them replied positively that they had done something tangible to improve their KPI scores – created internal data collection and communication systems, engaged suppliers, changed products or processes, or begun to communicate publicly about their sustainability efforts.

Let’s drill down a bit more. Here’s one of the comments we received:

“We started data collection 6-7 months earlier than the survey deadline and supported all suppliers to set up their energy records and GHG inventory.”

How many dozens or hundreds of this manufacturer’s suppliers are now tracking and improving their energy efficiency and reducing their GHG reductions? How many of the other 2,000+ manufacturers are doing the same with their supply base? In the next several years we’ll be able to gather more quantitative measurement of our collective impact on the planet, but we’re beginning to see the qualitative evidence that our theory of change is working.

When retailers and brand manufacturers agree to be stewards of our social and natural capital on behalf of their consumers, market forces can create positive change.

TSC stakeholders are eager to act: Now that we know the hotspots, let’s get on with it! In 2016, TSC initiated several member-driven projects, such as the Agricultural Metrics Task Force, Circular Economy toolkits, Common Chemical Criteria Task Force, and the Cold Water Saves campaign. TSC was also significantly involved in supporting the corporate deforestation commitments made by the Consumer Goods Forum and under the New York Declaration on Forests. TSC’s unique membership base, representing corporate, NGO, and academic stakeholders, across different industries and parts of the supply chain, will continue to provide fertile ground for significant, pre-competitive collaboration.

Our 2017 Impact Report is presented in a serial fashion, so that we can highlight different stories of our progress throughout the year. Thanks for joining us on the journey.

Preview of 2017 Impact Report

Dr. Kevin Dooley, Chief Scientist at TSC

Download the Impact Report preview presentation to follow along with the video.

But who is TSC?

The new TSC website provides a kaleidoscope of who TSC is: our mission, people, partners, projects, and products. The 2016 Impact Report also has several sections explaining TSC’s role in market-driven sustainability.

But who is TSC?

TSC has always been a collaborative between leading organizations, across sectors, supply chain roles, and stakeholder types. In our early days, the collaboration was driven by a profound but simple mantra: Let’s use science to make consumer products more sustainable. We identified social and environmental hotspots using scientific publications, demonstrating that science can provide the objective guideposts for a shared understanding of what matters the most.

In TSC’s middle years, our focus was developing KPI-based surveys that manufacturers can use to report sustainability progress to their retail buyers. The collaboration shifted from interpreting science to developing business tools. While the tools needed to be true to the science, they also needed to be practical and effective in incentivizing change. The network of collaboration also grew – we now depended on a village of strategic business partners to make the whole system functional.

Moving into our ninth year, the nature of that collaboration is changing yet again. As Walmart and other retailers have implemented their reporting platforms, thousands of suppliers, who didn’t know TSC existed until now, are being asked to measure and report their sustainability performance. Now TSC has the opportunity and responsibility to extend its collaboration network beyond its members and partners – to have impact broadly in the consumer goods space. Our members and partners will be critical to our success in reaching this broader audience.

Our members and partners also see collaboration turning a corner – from understanding and measuring to acting on social and environmental hotspots. Now more than ever it’s apparent that “TSC” is not the staff in Arkansas, Arizona, Netherlands, etc. TSC is a Consortium, and it’s the members and partners of that Consortium that create the vision of what TSC needs to do to help save the planet, and the members and partners who need to work together to reach that next level of impact.

Click here to learn more about our theory of change.

What Our Members Say About Us

We need to come up with honest and educated solutions. This requires extensive collaboration; by working with TSC stakeholders, NGOs, universities, suppliers, and retailers, it creates trust and credibility to ensure collective success.

Henkel
Henkel

TSC really helped us solve a big challenge, which was how do we get our arms around our total supply chain? And how do we really focus for impact in our supply chain with our partners? TSC is really helping us shape the issues, coming at it from a science-based conversation, and helping us bring the right parties around the table to move forward with action.

Walmart
Walmart

I do believe that TSC has created the supplier engagement process. It could potentially become a new norm.

Wrangler
Wrangler

Metrics and supply chain pressure are critical to obtain better environmental outcomes. The level of dialogue between stakeholders has changed dramatically as a result of TSC tools.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy

Defining Progress Through Engagement

In 2016, over 2,000 suppliers used our category sustainability surveys to report their progress to their retail buyers, up 25 percent from the previous year. These suppliers represented over $200B in sales to their retailer partners. Also in 2016, there were over 64,000 responses to our KPIs, with more than half of the responses scoring below 10%. Of the responses that scored under 10%, 70% of those choose “unable to determine at this time” as their responses.

“We are unable to determine at this time” represents 38% and 40% of all KPI responses for their respective years. It is important to note that most KPIs are not a measure of the progress of sustainability, but rather a measure or a company’s success in obtaining data for a give sustainability issue. A score of 100% on a KPI does not mean that that sustainability issue has been eliminated from the value chain, but that that the responding company has 100% visibility into the sustainability issues in their supply chain. Increased visibility is a huge feat for any company to strive for when looking to eliminate “hotspots”.

This shape of this chart may be surprising. Why are there so few responses in the space between “we are unable to determine…” and 100%? It seems that once companies begin to assess an issue, they quickly progress to assessing it for all of the relevant suppliers, facilities, or products.

The silver lining is of course that companies are reporting even if it means revealing that they have significant room for improvement. Although awareness and activity in sustainability for consumer goods is likely higher than it has ever been, it should come as no surprise that the most companies are still at the beginning of their sustainability journey. Leaders continue to lead and demonstrate the value and possibilities in pursuing sustainability. But, how do we change the shape of this chart? How do we shift response away from “we are unable to determine…” to 5, 10, 50%?

We know that suppliers are working hard to improve their KPI scores through creating internal data collection, improving communication systems, engaging suppliers, changing processes, and/or beginning to communicate publically about their sustainability efforts. Together, TSC, our members, and our partners can help and support suppliers to change these numbers and change the way they report them. Some already are making gains, others haven’t started yet. It is the call for collective action from retailers, suppliers, manufacturer, NGOs and everyone involved in creating more sustainability consumer products that will help us make real changes to these charts, bringing impact at scale to a system already set in motion.

Downloads

Impact Report

Greening Global Supply Chains: From Blind Spots To Hotspots To Action

2016 Impact Report

The report showcases a consistent, science-based measurement and reporting system that can serve as an important barometer for the entire consumer goods industry globally. It was vetted by more than 100 diverse stakeholders to assist both manufacturers and retailers in improving transparency and making progress towards their goals for addressing key environmental and social impacts within their product supply chains. Additionally, TSC sets a goal to create a consumer goods eco-system using a common approach to measuring and tracking the product sustainability of $1 trillion of retailer sales over the next five years.

The Call for Collective Action Across Supply Chains

2017 Impact Report

2017 represents a landmark year for TSC as we can now begin to see evidence of the real business change happening due to the work we have done together. In 2016, over 2,000 suppliers used our category sustainability surveys to report their progress to their retail buyers, up 25 percent from the previous year. These suppliers represented over $200B in sales to their retailer partners. This number is even bigger if we consider that any of the changes that these manufacturers make to their products or processes will benefit all their consumers. Our 2017 Impact Report is presented in a serial fashion, so that we can highlight different stories of our progress throughout the year. Please stay tuned and thanks for joining us on the journey.

TSC is funded primarily by contributors and members. To make a tax-deductible donation to support TSC and its mission, donate now.

The Sustainability Consortium® | © 2009-2016 Arizona State University and University of Arkansas