TfS was created in 2011. Could you reflect back on its evolution a decade on?
Our six founding members decided to take responsibility for sustainability beyond their own operations, and to look into their supply chains. At that time, these multinationals were ahead of the curve in terms of engaging with their suppliers, and this is what has made TfS into a successful organization attracting additional members that contributed to the formation of synergies and a well-integrated community. As of January 2021, we count 29 members, after welcoming three new members in November 2020. A focus of TfS today is to evolve from mere measurement of the sustainability performance of suppliers to a view to improvements, which is the tougher part of the job. However, this is how we understand sustainability in its fullest sense: it is not a status, but a continuous process.
With international treaties like the Paris Agreement, and national policies like the introduction of carbon taxes in countries like Singapore, how does TfS fit in driving the agenda on sustainability?
TfS is a link to the due diligence regulations and other policies. TfS runs a parallel track of tools in this sense: The first arm is the online evaluation where a supplier provides answers and documents checked by analysts; this is conducted in partnership with EcoVadis. Secondly, we rely on professional auditors to carry out on-site audits. Both tools feed into a corrective action plan, which ultimately works to help the respective supplier together with the member company to achieve improvements. The more mature and advanced a company grows, the more selective they will be of their suppliers and the more they will engage them on improvements.
Why should a chemical company join TfS as a member?
Chemical companies seek a way to achieve due diligence and transparency in their supply chains as a baseline, but also to have access to tools for improvement. In the TfS program each party involved benefits from the work and input made for and by others. Besides sharing assessment and audit results, we also share best practices in the TfS community, working upon our methodologies. We recently created a new working group to focus on CO2 emissions in the supply chain.
Could you walk us through the main pillars of the Growth and Delivery strategy launched this year by TfS?
The first revolves around preserving and developing our high-quality standards. Though we are not an alternative to established institutions like the ISO, we are gradually becoming a de facto standard for the industry, by virtue of the acceptance we enjoy.
The second pillar concerns our strategic expansion: We remain open to any chemical company, regardless of its geography, as long as they share our values and ambitions. Nevertheless, we also explicitly seek to increase our membership in China. In 2019, we added our first Chinese member, Wanhua.
Thirdly, we focus on collaborative action-which refers to moving from measurement to action; starting from September 2020, our working group on CO2 emissions has been focused on designing a program on measurement methods and goals to curb emissions in the supply chain.
Finally, we aim to strengthen our TfS community by furthering our dialogue, connectivity, and internal communications.
How far has the chemical industry progressed towards greater sustainability, transparency and accountability?
The chemical industry has been in the spotlight for decades, often dealing with a tension between how it is perceived from a safety/pollution perspective versus its essential role in daily life. Through programs such as Responsible Care, the chemical sector has done well in terms of remedying accidents and the impact on the environment, though we still have a lot of work to do in the supply chain to bring it to the same standards as the chemical producers. There was a time when sustainability was not being discussed in the procurement sector, but now this has become a pre-requisite. For the chemical industry to be credible, each aspect of the supply chain needs to be right- from HSE to energy transition, carbon emissions as well as human rights related to working conditions and salaries.
MEMBERS OF TFS FEATURED IN THIS REPORT