Working with your upstream supply chain

By Ann-Christin Pålsson, Johan Widheden, Johan Tivander & Ulrika Palme

The sustainability performance of your suppliers and upstream supply chain actors has an impact on the performance of the products, through the production of materials and energy that are used in the product. Consequently an organisation has indirect control of the performance of the product through the selection of which suppliers and materials to use.

The work with suppliers and upstream supply chain can involve the following tasks:

  • define sustainability expectations and requirements on suppliers, to use as basis in supplier selection and improvement
  • measure and follow-up supplier performance with regard to meeting requirements and expectations through e.g. visits, data collection such as self assessments or other evaluations
  • continuous improvements of supplier performance
  • creating partnerships and cooperation with suppliers and further up in the supply chain to improve performance & functionality and finding new solutions

In the work with the suppliers and upstream supply chain, generally different functions within a company have different roles and responsibilities. For example:

  • Sourcing can be active in compiling requirements & expectations, developing the supplier base and in the follow up of supplier performance
  • Research & development can be active in selecting which materials to use and in joint development work together with the suppliers
  • Manufacturing can collaborate with suppliers to e.g. ensure that delivered materials is used correctly and efficiently

The work with suppliers and upstream supply chain should be based on a clear strategy and targets for the work.

In the getting started guide for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), some information is available on how LCA can be applied to support the work with sourcing and upstream supply chain management.


Expectations & requirements

Measurement & follow-up

Further reading

A tool box for sustainable purchase from CSR Västsverige can be downloaded here