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Mike Silverman

April 12, 2022

Well, a virtual bar. Also… there’s no punchline. But they had a great discussion at Zero100’s first virtual event “Digitize to Decarbonize: Building Responsible Supply Chains in the Post-COVID Era” on Thursday, April 7, 2022. The panel featured Antoine Simonnet, Chief Supply Chain Officer at HP, and Mike Duijser, EVP & Chief Supply Chain Officer at Ecolab. The discussion was moderated by Zero100’s Deborah Dull, Senior Director Research, and Kevin O’Marah, Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer.  

We’re sharing highlights of the discussion and the full recap video below. Don’t forget to…  

Tech Shifted the Supply & Demand Balance of Power

Zero100 surveyed U.S. supply chain professionals and the majority responded that digital technology has changed the supply and demand balance of power in supply chains, favoring demand-side operations. 

Antoine shared that “demand-supply matching has never been more important. And you need to develop new capabilities, new tools.” The HP Instant Ink subscription program ensures customers never run out of ink, cartridges are shipped less frequently and with less packaging, and the cartridges are returned by the customer in a closed loop recycling program. With the HP+ program, HP invests in forest restoration to counterbalance pages printed by the customer. These E2E product-service offerings address sustainability, customer satisfaction and add positive demand signals into the supply chain. 

Mike discussed how Amazon’s last mile capabilities inspired Ecolab’s 2-hour delivery service for their B2B customers. They created a system to ship based on algorithms, rather than customer orders, that enabled a more responsive system that benefited their customers as well. 

Customers Care About Sustainable Supply Chains and 39% Are Willing to Pay More

Zero100 surveyed U.S. supply chain professionals and 75% believe their industry will meet Net Zero carbon goals by 2050. Customers will be a driving force to accelerate those goals: 39% of supply chain professionals think that customers care and are willing to pay more for ESG-minded supply chains; and 55% think customers are interested, but are not willing to pay more or change their buying behavior. 

But what does it mean to engage consumers in sustainability? Ecolab’s eROI tool showcases the benefits of their solutions for B2B customers – providing data of improved operational performance and environmental impact, such as GHG and waste reduction. 

Antoine shared that customers are always looking for great product & service experiences, and asking for more transparency with regard to sustainability and human rights in the supply chain.  Today’s customers are ready to change their behavior or pay more, as they’re familiar with an organic apple costing more than a regular apple at the grocery store.  

Supply chain leaders need to enable customers to change their behavior: returning products for e-recycling, for example. This ensures HP can drive more sustainable growth for new products by using less virgin materials. Hardware can even be designed to be repaired or upgraded more easily, to keep devices in use for longer. Responding to customer demands will help accelerate sustainable practices. 

The Sum of Small Steps and the Power of Community

Deborah reflected that many folks are intimidated by the work to be done on the path to sustainability, but it’s often the accumulation of small moves forward to make meaningful process.  

Antoine shared numerous examples from HP instilling a culture of ESG: from improving carbon and GHG traceability, to remote monitoring at factories, reducing personnel travel, and moving from oil-based to fiber-based product packaging. These initiatives from across the supply chain team add up to significant changes at HP in reducing their carbon footprint. Antoine closed by warning: “The planet is burning, literally. So, we need to have a sense of urgency.”  

Mike added the additional imperative to create communities. “[At Ecolab…] we’re in a privileged situation where most of our customers are our suppliers, so there is this opportunity of freely exchanging learning. […] That’s also your intent here with Zero100: create communities of knowledge that are driving [ESG goals]. It’s our mission here as supply chains of the world. It’s our opportunity to really make a difference.”  

Signing Off: Act with Urgency and Optimism

Reflecting on the need to build supply chains that are Zero Percent Carbon and 100% Digital, Kevin shared: “It’s a huge challenge. There’s no time to waste. But if I think of the urgency, possibility, and the supply chain awareness that’s out there right now… I feel great.” 

  1. URGENCY: Now is the time to take corrective action on climate change and, as supply chain leaders, we bear a responsibility to change our operations. 
  2. POSSIBILITY: Both HP’s Instant Ink and Ecolab’s eROI tool are notable examples of real-world programs that are making an impact today.  
  3. AWARENESS: With sustainability on everyone’s mind, and increased awareness of supply chains due to disruptions during COVID, this is the time for major change. Supply chain leaders need to reinvent our products and operations to respond to the customer demand. 

Stand with Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis are always on our minds. Supply chain leaders have risen to help in prior crises, bringing logistics support, supplies and coordination to those in need. In our Signal post on the supply chain perspective on the invasion of Ukraine, we share a list of charities that can have an immediate and substantive impact. Our company has made donations to these organizations, and we hope you join us in supporting their efforts. 

Video: “Digitize to Decarbonize” Virtual Event

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