The Vanguard of Ingredient/Materials-Centric Supplier Management: Nike

I recently came across this article in Sustainable Business News that reminded me of an earlier survey we did on interest and adoption level of ingredient/materials level traceability as part of broader supplier management programs. We’ll get to our own survey findings and analysis in further installments of this series, but it would appear from Nike’s efforts that at least some procurement and supply chain leaders are really on the vanguard of examining substance level visibility by encouraging the usage of optimal materials in the first place.

The article says that “Nike has entered an innovative partnership that can more quickly clean up its supply chain by giving them quick access to sustainable materials and chemicals.” The announcement follows Nike’s earlier news that “it would eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals across its global supply chain by 2020.” Central to this effort is Bluefinder, a tool and information service we’ll take a closer look at in the coming months.

According to the Sustainable Business News, “a supplier can access pre-screened and more sustainable textile preparations (dye systems, detergents and other process chemicals used in the manufacturing process … [and] gives Nike access to 30,000-plus materials that have been produced using … sustainable chemicals. Before this, Nike had to go through the iterative process of assessing individual factories and suppliers, which obviously takes many years and lots of investment and time.”

Tools such as Bluefinder join a broader set of content providers, including 3E, Ecovadis and others providing sustainable business information on materials and suppliers. No doubt others will enter this market as well, but without the combination of competitive pressure and regulation to drive investment, ingredient/materials level visibility and traceability is likely to remain a cottage industry inside companies, much as the case of environmental, health and safety (EHS) today.

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