Sweden's manufacturing industry is today characterized by a few large companies, so-called focal companies, which are often at the end of the supply chain, and a very large number of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), whose core business often primarily consists of production as a subcontractor to the large the companies. In order to achieve a more efficient and low-carbon production, a holistic approach needs to be taken that includes the entire supply chain.
More efficient industrial energy use is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby counteract the threat of increased global warming. Large companies often have both resources and capital to work with this. For small and medium-sized companies, there are usually not the same resources available. Common challenges are lack of time and other priorities. In addition, a lack of customer demands for increased energy efficiency is highlighted as a reason why profitable energy investments are not carried out.
There are three primary actors that can promote and motivate more efficient industrial energy use among SMEs:
- The Energy Agency's promotional activities, e.g. energy auditing support and the energy efficiency network programme.
- Regulatory authorities, e.g. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and county administrations can demand energy mapping, energy plans and require the company to implement measures.
- The large companies (focal companies), i.e. the clients of small and medium-sized companies, who can place sustainability requirements on the small and medium-sized companies (suppliers) and thereby promote increased energy efficiency in industrial processes with reduced emissions as a result.
In addition, banks have the opportunity to make demands on their borrowers.
The benefit of large companies taking overall responsibility for promoting a sustainable supply chain is that they can act both as promoters of energy efficiency and as demand setters.
The project's overall goal is to facilitate the development of sustainable supply chains in Swedish industry where the energy issue becomes strategic for small and medium-sized companies. More specifically, the project will, among other things, study models and approaches that large companies are currently working with to promote an upstream sustainable supply chain, identify success factors and develop a new unique model for supplier sustainability assurance.
Together with Gävle University, the project is conducted in close collaboration with some of Sweden's leading companies in sustainability work, Volvo Construction Equipment, Electrolux Professional and Tekniska verken in Linköping AB, under the leadership of Linköping University.