What is ethical manufacturing?

Despite the pandemic, 2020 is still en route to being the highest carbon emitting year the world has seen. While transport slowed down, our consumption did not but where we source our products from can change that.

A conscious consumer reads their labels, knows about materials and chooses to look beyond shiny new products. But without conscious manufacturers, you can’t have an ethical company, and conscious consumers cannot exist. Ethical manufacturing is the root of a sustainable world but a global effort is needed to make a real impact, meaning that companies must follow a series of social and environmental compliance steps. Here are some rules and bodies you might want to look at if you are looking to improve your business’s ethical standards.

WRAP: Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency experts

Looking beyond the individual, WRAP interlinks governments, businesses and communities to form viable solutions to issues in sustainability. Working within multiple sectors, including food and drink, plastics, and clothing and textiles, they provide campaigns as well as strict measures to ensure businesses are meeting basic ethical standards.

They strive to do this in three main ways:

  1. The re-invention of how products are designed, produced and sold

  2. The re-thinking of how products are consumed

  3. The re-definition of how things can be reused and recycled

WRAP is built on five key values: Sustainability, Honesty, Integrity, Fairness and Teamwork. Its dependable reputation has been built off of three areas of work: thorough research and evidence, voluntary agreements, and consumer campaigns. It also generates an annual review, which provides insights into the transformation of certain parts of the industry — the latest of which can be found here.

Sedex: Empowering Responsible Supply Chains

Mainly functioning via its online platform Sedex is membership-based and provides the world with ethical tools and services. For more than 16 years, Sedex has been a crossroads for companies across the world to exchange advice and launchpads to achieve key sustainable goals. Truly global, Sedex provides these services in 10 different languages, and has thus far reached almost 60,000 different organisations.

The platform is open to every step of the supply chain – whether you are a buyer, a supplier, or an auditor. It gets companies to audit themselves, as well as each other, to ensure they are meeting targets. It also publishes members’ success stories, to keep member businesses inspired and competitive — to build a healthier, greener and more humane global supply chain. One case, published in 2018, looked at Lidl’s implementation of human rights and assessed whether its goal to put labour workers first was successfully achieved. With careful back and forth consultation, the supermarket chain successfully built a transparent operation and exposed risks that might have previously been swept under the rug.

BSCI: Business Social Compliance Initiative

amfori BSCI was established in 2003 after its founders saw global supply chains become increasingly more complicated to keep track of. It works on a member basis too, stating: “Our members have the power to change the world. We help them do that.”

By joining BSCI, businesses can ensure they are:

  1. Improving the social performance of their supply chain

  2. Reducing costs and increasing efficiency

  3. Having a clear and consistent approach that highlights best practices

  4. Improving the resilience of their business to industry and market changes

  5. Improving their businesses’ reputation by meeting the expectations of your customers and stakeholders

The monitoring of businesses’ actions is very thorough, and this is carried out through the amfori BSCI platform, which allows them to create a virtual map of where their products go. It also uses an Audit Integrity Programme, which analyses factors like employee support, auditor qualifications and the training of auditors to ensure companies are being tested as transparently as possible. It also provides a Dashboard, which keeps all information centralised, and allows members to customise inputs and obtain graphs and 360° feedback on their progress.

If you need some inspiration to get started, a few of Veshin’s brands are already paving the way for a more ethical manufacturing sector. These include A__C, Watson & Wolfe, Votch, BRINN, Hukua & tentree.