IT'S TIME to celebrate - the debate has finally moved on. When it comes to ethical supply chains, a Footprint Forum on Monday caused a seismic shift in approach from circular debate to a focus on action and solutions.
Entitled “How ethical is your supply chain... really? supported by Tate & Lyle Sugars”, representatives from ethical marks and foodservice operators challenged each other to aim higher, achieve more and to tackle things in partnership.
The Forum established the middle ground to recalibrate relationships to enable producers, suppliers, operators and ethical marks to debate the issues with openness and honesty.
“The focus of this Forum gets to the heart of one of the most relevant issues in international development,” wrote Justine Greening, secretary of state, DFID in a letter to Footprint Forum read out at the event. “We want to support companies to become more responsible in how they interact with their supply chains as we believe this will be beneficial to people employed within them, reduce their harmful impact on the environment, and also generate commercial value.”
With consumers and businesses overwhelmed by the number of ethical marks, the Forum inspired Mike Hanson, head of sustainable business, Baxter Storey, to call for an industry standard or adjudicator. Going further and deeper than ISEAL, the standard could be used by businesses and consumers to cut through the noise and focus on the best and most relevant ethical marks.
The idea was roundly embraced by the audience. “It’s seems so obvious now I’ve said it,” explained Hanson during the networking afterwards, “but the idea of an ethical marks industry accreditation or standard just popped into my head as we were debating on the panel.”
With a cross section of the industry clearly behind the idea, the work lies in turning the idea into a reality.
Take our poll to vote on the idea, and to be part of the push to make an ethical standard or accreditation a reality, contact Charlie@footprint.london.
Full Forum report coming in the February issue of Footprint magazine.
Keynotes & Panelists:
Geraldine Gilbert - Forum for the Future
Mike Hanson - BaxterStorey
Cyrus Todiwala - Cafe Spice Namaste
James Bennett - Fairtrade
Julia Clarke - Tate & Lyle Sugars
Shirley Duncalf - Bidvest Foodservice