Exclusive Sustainability Video: James Butcher, Supply Pilot

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Supplier relationship management is a hurdle of the sustainability challenge and James Butchers, CEO, Supply Pilot, shows companies how to tackle it

In such a competitive supply chain market, supplier engagement is a critical step for established businesses, and a next step for those that are new to sustainability in their industry. 

Helping clients optimise their supplier engagement is not only important from a sustainability perspective, but comes with a myriad of commercial benefits as well. Helping facilitate these benefits is the CEO of Supply Pilot James Butcher who previously spoke at Sustainability LIVE London on the subject ‘Building supplier capability and the supplier journey - supplier and product sustainability’. 

Astonished by the audience for his keynote session at the third Sustainability LIVE hybrid conference, Butcher discussed the process of managing a supplier journey and providing insight from Supply Pilot to allow the audience to better manage and evolve their supplier relationships. 

He began the session by saying: “Today, [in] sustainability it's about engaging suppliers and supply chain to drive change. So, I want to share some of our experience in that space around how to do that. It isn't simple and as the slide says, it is a journey. So just a little bit more on me based on that introduction you said spent a lot of my time in manufacturing.” 

Some key statistics presented during the session: 

  • 55% of gross domestic product (GDP) is a material risk 
  • 80% of environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact comes from your supply chain 
  • 99% of complexity is in your supply chain 

Risk management by addressing supply chain sustainability

As suggested by Butcher above, the supply chain is a very complex beast, particularly with so many stakeholders involved in reaching true sustainability on paper. 

“It's really easy, by comparison, to look at the things within your own four walls,” Butcher says. 

“But when you've got hundreds of thousands of suppliers and thousands of materials, that's where the complexity comes and it's in that context that really I'd encourage you to be looking at those changes as a journey depending on how difficult it is.” 

Quoting a well-known leadership influencer and speaker Simon Sinek, Butcher explains that companies should start with their ‘why’ when it comes to carbon emissions, as focusing purely on carbon can cause tunnel vision when it comes to supplier communications. 

“A real simple example for me when this went wrong here in the UK was on the back of Blue Planet, there was a huge rush away from black plastic. All sorts of pledges were made. Policy was driven by [X (formerly Twitter)] as it was called back then, and fundamentally there was nothing wrong with the black plastic. It was recyclable, it was reusable,” says Butcher.

“The issue was people didn't know how to manage that, but the race away from black plastic actually removed the destination for a lot of coloured plastics that could only be recycled into black plastic.” 

For more insight into supplier relationship management, our sister publication Supply Chain Magazine covers this extensively, along with procurement-related insights. 


For more insights into Sustainability - check out the latest edition of Sustainability Magazine and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter

Other magazines that may be of interest - EV Magazine | Energy Digital


Sustainability LIVE Net Zero will be hosted live from the QEII Centre, London on the 6th and 7th of March, and streamed globally via our virtual event platform Brella. Sustainability LIVE Net Zero will delve deeper into the strategies, innovations, and collaborative efforts propelling us toward a net-zero future. The conference and exhibition gives the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers and actively contribute to crafting a sustainable future. 

Following Sustainability LIVE Net Zero, viewers can also sign up for Sustainability LIVE Dubai, Singapore and New York.

Sign up to the The Global Sustainability & ESG Awards 2024, coming to London on the 10th September 2024. 


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