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How Covestro is advancing a sustainable supply chain: Q&A with Kathy Limper

Next week, CEOs for Sustainability is hosting a special morning program on partnering with suppliers for a competitive edge.  Keynote speaker Kathy Limper, the Global Sourcing Manager/Regional Sustainability Lead in the NAFTA region for Covestro, shared with us how Covestro is leading by example on advancing a more sustainable supply chain.  See what she says below, and come join us to learn more and ask questions on Oct. 24! (Register today!)

How did Covestro get focused on its suppliers as a means of achieving its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals?
Covestro regards adherence to sustainability standards within the supply chain as a crucial factor in value creation and also an important level for minimizing risks.  For this reason, we apply not only economic standards but also social, ethical and ecological standards, as well as those related to corporate responsibility when we select new suppliers and in our relationships with existing suppliers.  These standards are defined in our Supplier Code of Conduct, which is available online in 13 languages and provides the basis for collaboration.

The Code is derived from the principles of the UN Global Compact and our position on human rights.  It is integrated across the Covestro Group into the electronic ordering systems and contracts.  Furthermore, relevant new and renewed supply agreements generally contain special clauses requesting suppliers to observe the sustainability requirements contained in the Code of Conduct and entitling Covestro to monitor their compliance.

What were some first steps you took toward a sustainable supply chain? 
Covestro has set ambitious and measurable targets to be reached by 2025 aimed at systematically promoting sustainability in supplier management.  All suppliers accounting for a repeat purchasing value exceeding 100,000 Euro are assessed and must comply with Covestro’s sustainability standards.  All other suppliers must agree to comply with our Code of Conduct by accepting our contracts and orders.

We work closely with our key suppliers to improve their sustainability performance. As members of the Together for Sustainability (TfS) Initiative along with 20 other chemical companies we have a method to measure our suppliers using standardized evaluation methods worldwide.

What were some challenges you faced, and what did you learn along the way?
The TfS program was not well known in the US and therefore, the Procurement team had to learn about the initiative, training material had to be developed and we had to learn that sustainability was something that was applicable to all business units and departments as well as the impact our supply base has on our reputation, supply and overall profit.

What kind of benefits are you seeing for Covestro, and what’s next for your program?
We have now incorporated sustainability assessments and/or audits in our bidding process, our contract process and supplier selection process.  Sustainability is a journey and we want to work with our suppliers to improve in their sustainability initiatives to ensure a strong long term relationship.

What’s your advice for companies looking to get started in creating a more sustainable supply chain?

  1. Prioritize your suppliers based on country and material risks as well as strategic importance.
  2. Leverage best practices and case studies from top performing suppliers.
  3. Join industry collaborations.
  4. Find a way to measure sustainability within the supply chain e.g. assessments, audits.

Learn more and register for the Oct. 24 CEOs for Sustainability event:
“Partnering with Suppliers for Competitive Advantage”
Wednesday, October 24
8:00 am – 9:30 am (Breakfast & Registration at 7:30 am)
Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Learn more and register here:
CEOsforSustainability.org

CEOs for Sustainability is a program of Sustainable Pittsburgh.