The Contribution of a Sustainable Economy to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
25-26 September, 2017 • Berlin, Germany
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Paper Session III: Innovations for and governance of the supply chain in the context of the SDGs
Approaches to Reducing Food Losses in the Fruit and Vegetable Production in Germany
Thuenen Institute of Farm Economics, Germany
Food losses occurs in all agricultural value chains. Depending on the crop the share of food losses varies across the different value chains. Against this background the collaborative research project "Pathways to Reduce Food Waste (ReFoWas)" was designed. The main objectives of ReFoWas are to quantify food losses in the agricultural sector and to identify measures to reduce food losses in order to achieve more sustainable production and consumption patterns in Germany. Therefore reasons for the emergence of food losses need to be identified. In this regard ReFoWas is based on top down and bottom up analyses of the agricultural sector and respective value chains. Since comparatively high shares of food losses occur in the fruit and vegetable sector, among others, in this study fruit and vegetable value chains will be analyzed in detail. The main objectives of this study are (a) to identify main reasons for food losses occurrence, (b) to quantify food losses at different stages, (c) to develop efficient measures for the reduction of food losses and (d) to assess the costs and implications of implementing these measures. As a part of the ReFoWas project this study is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Research Question and Approach
The study is part of the collaborative project ReFoWas which firstly aims at investigating agricultural production and food consumption in a holistic, sectoral analysis ("top-down" approach) and secondly focuses on selected case studies for fruits and vegetables, bakery products and school catering ("bottom-up" approach).
For the fruit and vegetable sector four case studies have been carried out in collaboration with practice partners from regional horticultural consultancy services. Interviews and discussion workshops with producers, traders as well as representatives of producer organizations and the food retail were and will be carried out. It was the aim to identify options for reducing and avoiding food losses at the production level and at the different downstream marketing stages of the value chains. Further, approaches to reduce food losses were developed and discussed in order to assess implementation opportunities.
Fruits and vegetables vary in storage suitability. For this reason one product with a long and another with a short shelf life was selected for each category. Hence, the fruit case studies are carried out focusing on apples and strawberries and the vegetable ones with carrots and lettuce as the research subject. Each product is investigated in two important production regions in Germany.
First results are already available for the vegetable case studies. The food losses are estimated and the main reasons for these losses in the value chain are identified. Weather conditions, pest or disease outbreaks and economic reasons are main reasons for food losses in both vegetables. In the case of lettuce feed damages from rabbits etc. contribute to overall losses. With respect to its short shelf life the market situation, i. e. low product prices, at harvesting time may have a tremendous influence on the amount of food losses. In carrot production the shape of the product and the fruit sizes, as a consequence of the prevailing quality criteria, are main reasons for losses in carrots.
Potential measures to decrease food losses in the vegetable sector have to distinguish between the producer level and the downstream value-added chain elements. On the producer level improvements in the management of production, harvesting and marketing the vegetables could help to reduce food losses. The measures have to consider also the shelf life of the products. For carrots (long shelf life), measures such as ice water cooling, an improved handling of carrots to reduce the rejects and the search for further marketing channels are discussed. Measures which are suitable for lettuce (short shelf life) are vacuum cooling, the search for new production methods and ways to reduce the structural supply surplus.
Food losses in the value chain could be reduced by cooling systems and/or humidification devices in food retailers and in the storage center and by more specialized knowledge of purchasers and retailers. Further options could include supply contracts for the fresh market sale, a greater product differentiation in the food retail and the sale of lettuce by weight.
These results from the vegetable case studies will be completed with the results from the fruit case studies. Finally efficient measures to reduce food losses in the value chains of fruits and vegetables can be developed and their costs and implications of implementing have to be assessed.
Innovation for Sustainable Production in the Global Textile Supply Chains
Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Sustainable production and consumption (SPC) aims at sustainable, inclusive and equitable global growth, poverty eradication and shared prosperity. The concept intends to align growth with the “planetary boundaries” while at the same time pursuing inter-generational as well as intra-generational justice. It has been incorporated into a number of declarations and resolutions on UN level, notable in SDG 12 of Agenda 2030. The “10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns” (10YFP), adopted by the UN General Assembly at the so-called “Rio+20” summit in 2012 and reflected in Agenda 2030 targets 8.4 and 12.1, gives structure to SPC policies.
According to the UN Environmental Programme, textile and clothing is the world’s second-biggest economic activity for intensity of trade. At the same time, textiles are heavily intertwined with environmental, social and governance issues. Textile supply chains are globally interwoven and volatile; production sites are traditionally located in countries with low environmental and occupational health standards. In the past, efforts of textile brands and retailers have primarily focused on improving the social aspects of textiles. Over the years, however, there has been growing concern about their environmental impacts.
Against this background, our contribution analyses development perspectives for SPC in the textile sector.
In a (textile) product context SPC basically means sustainable and efficient management of resources throughout the entire life cycle, and in all stages of the supply chain. In this respect, as highlighted by Agenda 2030 target 12.4, one of the major SPC challenges is to manage and thus control input and output of hazardous materials and toxic chemicals in global supply chains. We therefore focus on SPC issues related to the use of chemicals in textile processes and products – a topic which has gained momentum recently: the textile sector faces normative requirements not only in the perspective of product safety, but also with respect to emissions into the environment along the value chain. Raised awareness in the countries where the “textile mills” are located in combination with the well-orchestrated “detox”-campaign by Greenpeace draw the attention on the fact that problematic substances are released as waste water and endangers fresh- and seawater as well as the drinking water in these regions. Greenpeace “invites” global players in the textile and sporting goods sector to sign so-called “detox-commitments” (among the 79 signatory companies are H&M, Adidas and Aldi). These commitments contain demanding goals not only in the handling of problematic substances but also far reaching transparency obligations. Industry alliances such as “Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals” (ZDHC) are forged to tackle these challenges.
Besides, due to (normative) circular economy claims recyclability of textile products gets increasingly important.
Our contribution pursues the central research question how SDG 12 relevant innovations in the global textile supply chains can emerge and what barriers currently in place are impeding respective developments. To this end, we can access comprehensive empirical data (qualitative interviews, scenario analysis, workshops) as to the incentives and impediments of textile supply chain actors, gathered in different research contexts.
Up to now textile supply chains can be characterized as volatile, complex and “self-organizing”. The knowledge of brands and retailers as to the questions “Who produced what where under which circumstances?” is quite limited; and so are possibilities to influence the performance of the various actors along the supply chain. In the chemicals management state of the art, brands and retailers employ comprehensive but reactive product test strategies, mostly steered by (manufactured) restricted substances lists and taking into account risk considerations, which are very costly but not necessarily effective. However, innovations in the direction of SDG 12 can only emerge if brands and retailers are able to actively manage problematic chemicals in their supply chains, i.e. they must know what chemicals are used in the products and process steps. Hence, one central driver for sustainable textile economies are traceability and related business models.
Against this background, the contribution also asks for appropriate institutional innovations. In the light of the detox-commitments the delineated status quo situation confronts the global players with far reaching challenges: they can either opt for a vertical integration of the upstream suppliers or establish a new dimension of material data management covering also the process chemicals and the related emissions to the environment. In fact, it is to be expected that both elements are crucial to meet the societal expectations laid down in SDG 12 increasingly underpinned by international, national and regional legal obligations as well as normative expectations by civil society actors such as Greenpeace and other NGO´s finally – at least so some extent – influencing also the consumer perception.
In this respect it has to be noted that the 10YFP is meant to draw on experiences such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder approach in pursuing the sound management of chemicals. In the SAICM Chemicals in Products Programme (CiP) different tools and approaches to manage material information in global supply chains have been analysed. IT-supported information exchange systems providing for ‘full material disclosure’ in terms of chemical content of supplied (part) products provide the arguably most advanced solution. The automotive sector, including most major original equipment manufacturers (OEM), has successfully implemented such an approach (called “International Material Data System”, IMDS), designed to ensure compliance with chemical substance related requirements and at the same time facilitating circular mass flows. In our contribution we argue that such positive substance and material reporting could help overcoming barriers in the status quo und significantly contribute to innovation for sustainable production in the global textile supply chains.
GOVERNING TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE BIOECONOMY: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR LIFECYCLE GOVERNANCE ANALYSIS
Center for Development Studies (ZEF), University of Bonn
An economy based on the sustainable use of renewable biological resources is often proposed as a viable strategy to reduce fossil resource dependency and to meet global sustainable development goals (SDGs), i.e. by switching to renewable feedstock for material and energy production. Technological innovations, social and political advancements, and consumer behaviours are crucial factors among others for initiating, steering and adjusting transitional pathways towards sustainable economic systems. Institutional and regulatory frameworks, as well as policy and legal structures, are necessary when establishing emerging bio-based supply chains not only to further economic, but also environmental and social achievements. This will involve a large number of actors, from the stages of biomass production, extraction, processing and manufacturing up until a final product or service is created. Hence, sustainability actions must be adopted from a supply chain perspective, in order to enhance coordination among actors towards common goals. Although studies have been conducted in the fields of supply chain management and supply chain governance, an analytical tool able to capture multiple levels of governance structures on multiple levels of socio-economic organisation concerned in developing bio-based transformation pathways is lacking. As such, in this paper we present a theory-informed methodological approach that goes beyond the too often firm-centred organizational and institutional approaches, by also addressing the influence of local, regional and international factors in a telecoupled world.
The conceptual framework we derive by integrating life cycle and multi-level governance approaches aims to: a) characterize main policy and legal structures, as well as public and private actors involved in governing bio-based supply-chains in specific contexts; b) identify regulatory challenges and gaps that can arise from scaling up specific technologies; and c) supporting policy development, formulation and implementation for the organisation of value chains in order to minimize unintended social and environmental outcomes. It consists of a three step procedure, taking into account the ISO standards 14040:2006 for Life Cycle Assessment adapted to analytical governance perspectives. The three steps are the following: a) goal and scope, specifying the supply chain configuration and system boundaries; b) life cycle inventory of stakeholders and institutions within the system boundaries at the institutional, regional, and international levels (multi-level analysis); c) impact analysis to evaluate the effects of changes in the governance of supply chains on production patterns from a multi-sector perspective. This includes the necessary interlinkage of conceptual sub-steps involved in governance and life cycle analysis approaches. Being at a first development stage, this paper only addresses the first two steps, although the goal is to develop a set of themes to capture governance effectiveness of alternative bio-based pathways based on novel technologies. The application of this Life Cycle Governance Assessment (LCGA) framework is illustrated by employing the production of Polylactic Acid (PLA) as a case study, which stands out as the fastest growing bio-based and biodegradable plastic in the global market. PLA is currently produced by fermentation of starch- and sugar-based ethanol feedstocks into lactic acid. At the current state of market penetration, PLA is only produced in relevant quantities in the United States and Thailand, based on corn and sugarcane, respectively, involving the risk of repeating unsustainable practices associated with the promotion of biofuels.
Preliminary results are obtained from the application of the LCGA framework to two production pathways in the bioplastic industry, by means of a comprehensive network analysis. This provides, for each case, a roadmap of socio-economic actions and sociopolitical accounts corresponding to the interplay of structures and agents within specific contexts involved in the supply chains for producing PLA. As such, our proposed theoretical themes for analysing governance comprise structures, agents and contexts. Nevertheless, it is their interplay in praxis relevant for the production of PLA that stands at the core of our approach. In other words, global standards are rarely effective in national domains, unless engaging with national, regional and local social contexts as socially embedded and historically grown values, which are implicit in the practical application of external standards into local milieus. Comparing value chains of the US and Thailand PLA examples and the related forms and modes of governance employed to achieve national development goals can serve as a basis for discussion on the development pathways that exist in governing bioeconomic transformation in an industrialized and emerging economy. A greater importance of national regulation standards is present in the US, while the production patterns of PLA in Thailand are not comprehensively regulated form a national point of view, but are mainly subject to international standards in the bioplastics sector. Further technological development may require more specialized regulation as regards product specifications and safety. These can enhance industrial competitiveness of new firms entering the bioplastic market, although the risk exists for pushing social and environmental pressures further down the supply chain. Hence the need to capture these upstream effects, which are deemed to involve farmers, directly and also indirectly due to increased biomass trade.
A framework for LCGA is proposed as incremental procedure for the multi-level assessment of governance risks and gaps in the Bioeconomy. In this way, it can also be applied to the study of increased biomaterial production scenarios, e.g. with bioplastic supply chains becoming transnational or involve global dimensions. Once fully developed, our conceptual framework can contribute to reducing resulting systemic complexities and uncertainties in bio-based transformation pathways providing the conceptual starting points for a regulatory structuring of socio-economic processes and actors along bioeconomic value chains. Our overall goal is to further spark scholarly discussions around governance approaches to foster, but also regulate the Bioeconomy towards more sustainable production pathways.
Chances for more sustainability in clothing production and consumption
ECOLOG-Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung und Bildung, Germany
The contribution to the conference follows the following research questions: Which innovations could contribute to more sustainability in the clothing sector? What are the chances of their realization? How can the diffusion of these innovations be promoted?
To identify possible innovations besides desktop researches interviews were carried out with actors from science and research as well as from enterprises along the textile chain. In these interviews the chances of the identified innovations to be realized were also discussed. To get a broader assessment of the developments in the clothing market in the next few years, an expert survey was conducted. The questionnaire comprised the following categories: political and social conditions, consumer preferences and design / fashion trends as well as the steps of the textile chain of the fibre, yarn and fabric manufacture to recycling. The survey took place at the end of the year 2016. Involved were experts in science and research, economy, civil society, and media.
To examine the openness of consumers for innovative products and services that lead to more sustainability in the consumption, a representative survey is currently conducted with 2,000 people in the German-speaking population. This was preceded by focus groups with consumers from modern and well-established social milieus. The focus groups aimed at the ascertainment of the meaning of clothing and fashion in the different social milieus and the – milieu-specific – factors which can have a restraining or supporting effect on the change of the clothing consumption in the direction of more sustainability. The knowledge-leading question of the representative survey is: Which factors influence the consumption of clothing and the openness to more sustainable alternatives? In addition to socio-demographic and socio-cultural factors attitudes towards fashion and clothing purchase are considered. Other factors to be examined are the importance of social norms and the influence of perceived collective efficacy on consumer behaviour.
The examined innovations for more sustainability in production and consumption of clothes should contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. With about 12 kg per head and year the Germans are world champions in clothing consumption together with the Swiss and the US-Americans (Neugebauer & Schewe 2015). The purchase of clothes is stimulated by faster and faster changing fashions and trends. This fast fashion is only possible due to low costs for raw materials, transport, and labor, poor working conditions, and heavy negative environmental impacts. A transformation to more sustainability in the clothing market and consumption will only be achieved if a more efficient use of resources (efficiency strategy) and an environmentally and socially responsible design of production, use, and after-use phase of clothing (consistency strategy) is combined with a reduction of the mass throughput in the clothing sector (sufficiency strategy). For the latter strategy the term slow fashion has become widely accepted. It stands for a slowing down of the consumption by lengthening the phase of utilization of clothes or textile materials. In all strategies the clothing industry has to make substantial contributions, but the consumers are also requested to act, that means to buy clothes that are produced in a socially responsible and environmentally sound way, or even to limit their consumption.
The results of the expert survey show that the experts tend to think that till 2030 public pressure on companies to make their production methods socially and environmentally acceptable will increase. Most experts regard it likely that European regulations will be passed in this time span defining higher demands on the production of clothes. Accordingly, they assume that the consumer demand for environmentally and socially responsible manufactured clothes will increase. This is likely to have sustainability benefits in the areas of poverty reduction, health, environment, and employment especially in the production countries. Regarding the conservation of resources the - - necessary slowdown of consumption is unlikely to happen until 2030 in the experts view. The experts expect that the demands for services related to ‘do-it yourself’, repair, and the altering or upcycling of clothes will increase and that the sharing of clothes will be more widespread as today. But they are skeptical that the average lifetime of clothes will increase and that the trend to buy more clothes at always lower unit prices will decrease.
This fits to the results of the focus group study with consumers from different milieu segments. A voluntary slowdown in consumption seems to be unattractive for most consumers, at least today and in near future. Too many secondary functions are associated with clothing and their acquisition.
Only persons from the critical-creative milieus show a tendency to question and limit their own consumption. A longing to slow down their own clothing consumption and to escape from the necessity to adapt to ever-changing fashions shined through in the mainstream milieus. However, this requires a social appreciation of the clothing style over a longer period. So far, fashion and longevity are often perceived as contradictory. For most of the participants in the focus groups, limiting their own clothing consumption is not acceptable. Especially in the younger milieus, many want to acquire as much clothes as possible for as little money as possible. Many also enjoy the shopping experience. A slowdown of clothing consumption, as described by Vivienne Westwood's formula "Buy less, choose well, make it last" formula, is out of question for them.
Without a societal change in values and a clear orientation towards the goal of an environmentally and socially responsible way of life, sustainable consumption behavior, which has to be accompanied by a reduction in resource and energy-intensive practices, cannot be achieved. It is necessary to create incentives for sustainable consumption and to make the alternatives to purchasing 'conventional' clothes more attractive. Here, in addition to the providers of such alternatives, the conventional clothing manufacturers and suppliers are particularly challenged.
Neugebauer, C. & Schewe, G. (2015): Wirtschaftsmacht Modeindustrie – Alles bleibt anders. In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, Vol. 65, Nr. 1-3/2015, S. 31-41