Responsible Business

Responsible Business

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Being a Responsible Sourcing Company

Being a responsible business comes from the top of The Sourcing Team, and it’s a commitment we have had year-on-year since we established the business in 1996.  As part of the promotional product industry, we want to do things differently; looking at the materials we use, how and where they are sourced, and looking carefully at those individuals involved in producing our goods. We care about both our impact on the people around the world producing our goods and that impact has on the environment.

Our three directors Gill, Becky and Sharon are engaged in delivering on these commitments: to buy ethically; to provide only safe and compliant promotional products and to find or create more sustainable solutions to help our client's brands shine!

Being a Responsible Business is part of our DNA – this passion comes from our business experiences over the last 20+ years, which is what makes it so meaningful to us! The promotional product industry is one that typically produces low-cost products from high-risk markets around the world.  Our curiosity and passion to learn more, do things better and drive change is what our clients love about us.

How do we do this?

From the outset, we live our values. It takes a lot of work and commitment - and sometimes, it means we have to say no to business opportunities.  We really only work with the suppliers who have been through our due diligence process and who do the right thing.

Sharon, our FD and Head of Sustainability, ensures we stay on top of our policies and accreditation here at The Sourcing Team. She is supported in this work by the Green Team. These policies include: environmental, ethical, diversity, anti-bribery and staff code of conduct, supplier code of conduct, health and safety, staff development, sustainable purchasing and travel options, to name a few!  For more information email Sharon Childs.

Ongoing Due Diligence includes:

  • Bi-annual review (CEO & FD)
  • Team share sessions
  • Supplier annual review process
  • External events and knowledge gaining activities

We remain one of the highest accredited businesses in our sector: ISO140001, Gold EcoVadis and Award Winner in 2017, CIPS Sustainability Index, SEDEX AB (buyer/seller) membership, signatory to the United Nations Global Compact – UNGC, committed to the Sustainable Development Goals 2020 SDGs, Certified London Living Wage, we are a Certified Women-Owned Business and we support Diversity as an Ambassador for WEConnect Europe. Finally, we work to and promote the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code – ETI and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply – CIPS – Code of Conduct.

We will never knowingly do business with a supplier whose practices conflict with the direction of our policy. We aim to support and inform our partners on best practice so they too make a positive impact on society.

The Sourcing Team positive actions:

  • We will comply with all relevant environmental legislation
  • We train our staff to understand and help us achieve our objectives
  • We strive to constantly improve our environmental and ethical standards
  • Take time to constantly grow our expertise and share that knowledge up and down the chain
  • Set our own environmental objectives and on-going targets
  • Committed to greater sustainable procurement

As a team we are committed to being a responsible business: sharing our knowledge, best practice and stories both inside and outside of the business to help others understand the challenges and engagement with positive change

What does Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) really mean?

CSR is confusing for businesses and of course, is tough to stay up-to-date and on top of the requirements. However, there are no excuses.  Every business, large and small, can take small steps and deliver on being an ethical and sustainable business.  Our goals are small, but we identify areas for improvement year-on-year and we get on with it!

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development in its publication "Making Good Business Sense" by Lord Holme and Richard Watts used the following definition. Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as that of the local community and society at large (Source: Mallenbaker).

Associations and Glossary

Below are a few links for further information and some hopefully useful definitions.

Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply - CIPS:
(CIPS) exists to promote and develop high standards of professional skill, ability and integrity among all those engaged in purchasing and supply chain management. All members’ sign up to the code of ethics when they join CIPS - the last major review and the update was in March 2009.

ETI - The Ethical Trading Initiative:
A ground-breaking alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations. They work in partnership to improve the working lives of people across the globe that make or grow consumer goods - everything from tea to T-shirts, from flowers to footballs. We work to the ETI base code as part of our ethical policy.

CIPS Sustainability Index:
The CIPS Sustainability Index is a collaboration between the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, the University of West England (UWE) and PRGX. With research indicating that there were limited cross-industry standards to assess all three pillars of sustainability for both suppliers and buyers, the CIPS Sustainability Index was developed by the team to create a consistent sustainability measurement to support purchasing and, in doing so, create significant time and cost efficiencies.

Promotional Products Association International – PPAI:
This is a US-based trade association for the promotional industry. The Sourcing Team have been members since the business was established and are signed up to their code of conduct.  PPAI are leaders in their knowledge and insights in promotional product industry, we both endorse the organisation and support them when possible with articles and our CEO has shared insights on Ethical Sourcing at the Annual trade show in Las Vegas.

Sedex is a membership organisation that enables companies around the world to share ethical data and enables continuous improvement throughout their supply chain. It is the world’s largest collaborative platform for sharing responsible sourcing data on supply chains, used by more than 40,000 members in over 150 countries. Tens of thousands of companies use Sedex to manage their performance around labour rights, health & safety, the environment and business ethics. Their services enable members to bring together many kinds of different data, standards and certifications, to make informed business decisions, and to drive continuous improvement across their value chains. Read more in our Introduction to Sedex brochure

EcoVadis Supplier Sustainability Ratings:
EcoVadis provide reliable CSR Ratings and Scorecards covering 21 CSR Indicators, 150 commodities, and 110 countries, built on 3 Pillars: People, Process and Platform.

The UN Global Compact Network UK:
We are a member-based organisation and official Local Network, representing UK businesses that are signatories to the UN Global Compact.
Local Networks were launched to help make the UN Global Compact relevant across the world’s different economic, political and cultural landscapes and to support meaningful engagement with signatories. We implement a programme of activity in support of UK-based UN Global Compact signatories who wish to maximise the benefits of their engagement with the UN Global Compact.

Bio Mark:
Since September 2001, all agricultural products and foodstuffs from organic farming may be labelled with the national Bio-Siegel (eco-label) of Germany. The small hexagonal logo with the inscription “Bio” brings about clarity, uniformity and orientation for organic or eco products respectively. Consumers can rely on it: “If it says ‘Bio’ on the outside it contains organic products.” Only producers and manufacturers who comply with the provisions of the EU Organic Farming Regulation and subject themselves to the mandatory inspections may sell their products as organic or eco goods and label them accordingly with the Bio-Siegel.

Frequently Used Terms

Able to decay naturally and harmlessly. Biodegradable products and packaging help to limit the number of harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere.
Biodegradable Corn Starch “Plastics”. Cornstarch plastic is renewable, non-polluting and compostable, replacing the need for limited oil reserves by using sustainable plants. During growth, plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere – this carbon is extracted to form Corn Starch plastic. The carbon is locked up in the bio-plastic until it is thrown away. Once added to compost or landfill, cornstarch plastic starts to decompose. The level of gasses released by the degrading plastic is the same as those absorbed by the plant during its growth, meaning no extra increase in greenhouse gases.

Blue Angel:
Created in 1978 The Blue Angel claims to be the oldest environmental – related label for products and services in the world. Focused initially on recycled products the Blue Angel certificate has now been broadened to include other environmental benefits.
The Blue Angel promotes the concerns of both environmental protection and consumer protection. It is awarded to products and services which – from a holistic point of view – are of considerable benefit to the environment and meet high standards of serviceability, health and occupational protection. Economical use of raw materials during production, use, a long service life and a sustainable disposal - all these are factors of great importance.

Circular Economy:
Based on the living world cycle where the waste of one species provides the food for another and resources flow in a circular movement, the principle is that manufacturers redesign commonly used items so they can be easily dismantled and the component parts reused in future items.

Closed Loop:
Recycling- a process where the waste or by-product of one process or product is used to make another product

Environmental Policy:
An environmental policy should lay out your environmental strategy and how you manage the process throughout your supply chain. This should incorporate any local or international regulations pertinent to your industry.

Ethical Policy:
Ethical trading means looking beyond strictly economic objectives to consider the wider implications of your business decisions. It is becoming increasingly important for those trading internationally.

EU Leaf Mark:
For years many countries have had their own regulations for “organic” products and many different logos. In 2010 the EU brought out a new Mark for organic food products complimented by a strict set of rules these products and producers have to comply with. The EU Leaf Mark is legally binding and the only sign acknowledged in all European countries. The German BIO Logo is well known in many parts of Europe and can still be used alongside the new EU Leaf Mark which must be used by EU law if goods are referred to as organic. (Only Products that can be used as nutrition can be certified with these two organic marks).

Fair Trade:
A term used to describe a social –responsibility movement demanding the farmers receive fair prices for their products; also describes products that are produced by these farmers.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC):
FSC is an independent, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS):
The Global Organic Textile Standard was developed in a common approach by leading standard setters with the aim to define worldwide recognised requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer.

ISO14001 is the cornerstone standard of the ISO14000 series. It specifies a framework of control for an Environmental Management System against which an organization can be certified by a third party.

Implies that a product does not contaminate or corrupt the environment.

Organic certification:
A certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:
• avoidance of most synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc.), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of biosolids;
• use of farmland that has been free from synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
• keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
• maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
• undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers.

Having been used before and then processed so that it can form a new product.

Can be reprocessed so it can be used again. Examples are paper, glass, plastic etc.

Recycled PET:
Bottles made of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) are recycled to reuse the material out of which they are made and to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. PET plastic bottles are coded with the code number “1” inside the recycling symbol, usually located on the bottom of the container. The waste PET must be separated from other plastics such as PVC, HDPE, polypropylene as well as any waste; paper, food, metal etc. The recycled PET is shredded, crushed and processed before “flakes” are used as a raw material for making items.  These include; umbrella canopies, lanyards, bags and some clothing items.

Sustainable Jute:
Jute is a rain-fed crop with little need for a fertiliser or pesticides. A natural plant with a four-month growing cycle jute is a sustainable, biodegradable and renewable source of raw material. Jute is a long, soft, shiny plant fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. Jute is second only to cotton to the amount produced and variety of uses from any natural fibres. Collected from the skin of the plant fibre is partially a textile and partially wood based. 85% of the world’s jute production is concentrated in Bangladesh and India, mainly in Bengal.

Sustainability economics involves ecological economics where social, cultural, health-related and monetary/financial aspects are integrated.

Sustainable Procurement:
Sustainable procurement means only purchasing goods that are really needed and buying items or services whose production, use and disposal minimize negative impacts on the environment and society.

If you are looking to be more sustainable in your approach to the selection of promotional branded products, do give us a call and we'll guide you through the process! Call Gill, Becky or Sharon on +44(0)20 8288 2877 or, drop us an email and we’ll be in touch.

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