World Focus on Ethical Sourcing Turns to California as Leaders Gather
The World focus on ethical sourcing of materials will shift to California next month when the Conflict-Free Smelter Initiative (CFSI) holds its annual meeting in Santa Clara. Thousands of supply chain executives and sustainability officers from top-tier companies, legal experts, NGOs and others will converge for what promises to be intense discussions about one crucial issue: Can companies do better at ensuring they have responsible and ethical sourcing practices in their product streams.
The CFSI meeting will be held in tandem with the Electronic Industry Citizens Coalition (EICC) “Responsible Electronics 2016” conference, and comes at a time of heightened awareness of ethical sourcing issues, increasing regulations and significant pushes by NGOs to put public pressure on industry groups to distance themselves from child labor and slavery issues in central Africa and other regions.
The two conferences should provide significant insights and guidance to companies seeking to reduce their risks and exposure for a range of sourcing issues: Conflict minerals reporting in the United States, the European Union and China; calls for cobalt to be added to the list of conflict minerals to be monitored and regulated; increased attention to child labor and modern day slavery issues; restricted substances; and more.
Source Intelligence, the first vendor member of CFSI, is helping thousands of companies stay ahead of these issues through its Conflict Minerals Resource Center and by establishing the world’s largest database for smelters and smelter aliases. Source Intelligence also was the first supply chain management service provider to create a SaaS-based platform for conflict minerals tracking, verification and reporting.
At next month’s CFSI conference, companies are expected to discuss their ongoing challenge to meet conflict minerals disclosure requirements under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as emerging rules for conflict minerals in the European Union. Source Intelligence has been hosting webinars on the EU rules, and has been meeting with various companies across Europe to prepare them for these regulations and how to put together a conflict minerals team.
Another major topic before companies next month in Santa Clara involves the application of OECD guidelines and due diligence for responsible sourcing – particularly as world governments begin to use the OECD guidelines to look at additional geographies and materials beyond the “3TG” group of conflict minerals. Companies, it appears, continue to face challenges on how to incorporate conflict minerals reporting practices in alignment with OECD guidelines.
Another focal point next month in Santa Clara will be the wider adoption of independent third-party auditing and certification programs, as we have seen occurring recently by the Chinese business community.
The conferences are expected to cover a lot of issues in a few short days. The quest for transparency means having to deal with anything from the UK Modern Slavery Act, Federal Acquisition Regulations, as well as potential increased government regulations of global supply chains – including proposals by Germany for a global (G-20) pact for sustainable supply chains and by Sweden for global standards for “decent working conditions.”