Today marked the end of the initial 45 day comment period for ULE 880 – Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations. [NOTE: the comment period has been extended until September 21st]. This draft sustainability standard is the culmination of a partnership between UL Environment (ULE), a division of Underwriters Laboratories, and Greener World Media. The standard for businesses and other organizations, focusing on their environmental and social performance, was designed “to create uniform and global metrics for customers, stakeholders and trading partners”, essentially ‘harmonizing’ the wide variety of standards, guidelines and specifications for driving sustainability in organizations.
According to the draft document preface, “Our vision is to create a uniform, globally applicable system for rating and certifying companies of all sizes and sectors on a spectrum of environmental and social performance characteristics. ULE 880 will fill a major void in being able to consistently understand and measure how, and how well, a company is doing in understanding, addressing, and communicating its environmental and social impacts. It will also provide a standardized mechanism that allows organizations and their stakeholders to factor companies’ environmental and social performance into their core decision-making processes, thereby elevating the importance of these issues within companies.”
At its core, ULE 880 is designed principally as a procurement tool, allowing companies, public agencies, and institutional buyers to assess the performance of their supply chains and trading partners. It is intended to complement existing and future product procurement specifications throughout many layers of an organizations supply chain.
ULE 880 covers five domains of sustainability:
- Sustainability Governance: how an organization leads and manages itself in relation to its stakeholders, including its employees, investors, regulatory authorities, customers, and the communities in which it operates
- Environment: an organization’s environmental footprint across its policies, operations, products and services, including its resource use and emissions
- Workplace: issues related to employee working conditions, organization culture, and effectiveness
- Customers and Suppliers: issues related to an organization’s policies and practices on product safety, quality, pricing, and marketing as well as its supply chain policies and practices
- Social and Community Engagement: an organization’s impacts on its community in the areas of social equity, ethical conduct, and human rights
The 60-plus page draft standard contains 102 questions (or “indicators”), including 18 in Governance, 45 in Environment, 15 in Workforce, 15 in Customers and Suppliers, and 9 in Social and Community Engagement. Each of the indicators has certain “weightings” and not all of them equally distributed. The Environment, for instance covers 80 points, Governance and Customers/Suppliers 40 points each, and Workplace and Social/Community 20 points each. In addition, there are also 18 “Innovation Points” — 3 points each for 6 different indicators — that reward companies for going above and beyond the standard.
Sustainable Supply Chain Elements
Direct sustainable supply chain elements mentioned in Section 6.5.3 of the standard include requirements and related point allocations for:
- Supply Chain Policy
- Tier 1 and Tier 2 Supply Chain Inventory (why not Tier 3 or Tier 4?)
- Supply Chain Monitoring and Assessment (not a great deal of detail in this element)
- Supply Chain Reporting
Also, like other elements of the proposed standard, ‘Innovation Points’ are allocated for Training and Targeted Continual Improvement Metrics. In addition to this specific clause of the standard, there are specific elements associated with Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and ‘greener’, more efficient transportation planning and logistics…all of which represent vital parts of the sustainable supply chain.
The ULE 880 standard offers promise to take sustainability to a whole new level e.g. organization based certification, and acknowledges that supply chain considerations are vital to a ‘sustainability-focused’ organization. The next step for the standard will be a peer-reviewed response to the more than 600 commenters from over 30 countries that have requested and reviewed the document to date. In coming phases, a small set of manufacturers will be engaged to pilot the standard and the verification/certification delivery model, prior to wider release and market implementation. Stay tuned!
This post was originally published on my New Green Supply Chain Blog, which can be found at https://community.kinaxis.com/people/DRMeyer/blog