Sustainable supply chain

As part of ongoing efforts to improve and enhance the sustainability of the supply chain, EDANA’s members seek to increase green procurement as well as ensuring fair and safe working conditions. It takes into consideration human rights compliance, systematic partnerships and operational health and safety along the supply chain.

Most companies monitor these performances and are commonly required by others in the supply chain to do so. This is supported by suppliers’ codes of conduct and different audit and certification approaches. Green procurement promotes business that reduces the impacts on natural resources and risks of hazardous chemical substances and strengthens good relations within the entire supply chain.

Ambition: Promote fair and safe working conditions and green procurement in the supply chain

Fair and safe working conditions
Sustainable raw materials
Sustainable sourcing
Systemic partnerships in order to build sustainable supply chains

Fair and safe working conditions

EDANA members endeavour good working conditions through various practices, a large majority by complying to one or more quality or safety standards and management systems as displayed in the chart. Moreover, several members developed and endorsed a Code of Conduct on fair and safe labour standards. These codes include prescriptions on freedom of association, child labour, non-discrimination and harassment prevention and are often based on or in accordance to international human rights standards.

The EDANA members have consistently been improving their employees’ health, safety and well-being alongside promoting fairness in the work space. The average reduction in LTI (lost time injury) or LTIFR (lost time injury frequency rates) is 35% and more for some companies. All our members aim to be injury free. Around 20% of our members have set goals on injury reduction and almost 10% of our members can proudly call themselves an injury free work space.

Process safety and compliance to a fair and ethical working environment are of prime importance in the nonwovens supply chain. This is realised by means of effective process safety management systems and ethical compliance systems.

Sustainable Raw materials

Petroleum-based materials represent around 70% of the share of the industry raw materials use. Conversely, renewable-based raw materials account for around 30% of the used materials. Two major trends occur in order to make the use of raw materials more sustainable. We observe a decrease in weight of materials per unit production. This is important as around 85% of carbon emissions from a finished product come from the raw material production as opposed to extrusion, conversion and transportation. Since 2005, the nonwovens’ average weight has been reduced by 7 gsm. `

Raw materials form the basis of the industry’s value chain. It goes without saying that the choice for sustainable raw materials is a necessity in order to create and maintain a sustainable supply chain.

Although the number of square meters of nonwovens has increased dramatically over the last ten years, the tonnages have not followed the same path. Increasing innovations result in a continuous decrease of the average weight per square meter of nonwovens.

There is also a clear increase in the use of materials from a natural or recycled origin. In 2017, the consumption of fibres, polymers and binders by the nonwovens industry amounted to 2.8 million tonnes. About 20% originates from natural resources. This includes wood pulp (11%). An increasing number of cellulose-based fibres (such as viscose) are used (6%). Also, more and more bioplastics find their way to nonwovens applications. The most commonly used certification standards for renewable sourcing are the FSC® or PEFC™ standards. In addition, 12% of the total amount of raw materials used are of polyester recycled origin (R-PET).

Sustainable Sourcing

The sourcing of materials happens almost exclusively through suppliers and business partners. They are vital for any (manufacturing) organization. In order to have a value chain approach to sustainability, integration of sustainability in procurement processes is on the rise with our members.

The demand for sustainable products continuously increases. In 2017, 65%of our members used sustainability as a key element in the decision-making of raw material sourcing. In order to assess their suppliers and supply chain on sustainability, EDANA members use different audit mechanisms as shown in the chart. Collaborative platforms are most popular (58%), followed by internal auditors (24%). The popularity of platforms like EcoVadis® or Sedex® is mostly due to their transversal properties and capacities to be used throughout all industries, minimising the effort on the side of the supplier to provide information.

With raw materials being the building blocks for a sustainable supply chain, sustainable sourcing is the foundation upon which it is built. The integration of social, ethical and environmental factors in procurement is a necessity to meet today’s stakeholder expectations.

Systematic partnership

Over the years EDANA has enabled the creation of numerous partnerships and networks between industry members, suppliers, governments and other trade associations. As the representative of the nonwovens and related industries, EDANA continues to play a key role in initiating conversation and exchange between different actors within different industries. The yearly conferences and symposia are a prime example of this. EDANA thereby creates a network of suppliers and business partners researching and developing specialist equipment and materials, which in turn contribute to more practical know-how, more advanced technologies and better end-products.

As partnerships are a prerequisite for sustainability, our efforts and the willingness of our members has resulted in a more sustainable supply chain. 66% of our members indicate they established partnerships solely for the improvement of their sustainability. The chart below demonstrates the proportion of these partnerships for sustainability. 44% of these partnerships are between industrial actors and about 20% with suppliers.

Facilitating and sustaining partnerships is inherently linked to the core business of EDANA. True sustainability within the supply chain can only be reached through open communication and sustainable partnerships with all actors.