It is by digging into the details, applying globally recognized standards, and demanding third-party verification – we can support you in your sustainability goals.
Ensuring sustainability across the supply chain for your brand merchandise and in-store consumables is a complicated and lengthy process.
It can also vary greatly between different customers and products. So, for the purposes of this explanation, let’s consider a specific request from a hypothetical customer “Green & Co”:
Green & Co approach Brandon to supply a sustainably made branded backpack.
Following Green & Co’s request for a sustainably made backpack – which covers materials, production and distribution of the bag – Brandon’s first step is to review the suitability of existing members of our supplier network.
With experience working with hundreds of suppliers across the world, delivering thousands of different promotional products, we may already know some ideal candidates for manufacturing Green & Co’s backpack.
If we don’t have suitable suppliers to approach, or perhaps those we did contact are too expensive or provided samples which didn’t meet our expectations, it’s time to find a new supplier.
This can be done by attending trade shows or asking for recommendations from companies who might supply materials for the Green & Co backpack.
When we find a company who interests us, we ask them to complete a New Supplier Checklist. This asks fundamental questions on topics such as the company’s size, production capacity, shipping and payment terms. However, the majority of questions focus on the company’s approach to management, quality control and sustainability – including how it sources energy, tools and equipment. Example questions include:
Based on satisfactory answers to these questions, and the provision of certifications and auditing reports from reputable authorities, we can then proceed to onboard the company.
During the onboarding process, we seek commitments from suppliers regarding their Corporate Social Responsibility, including any sub-contractors they will use.
Brandon will ensure that the minimum standards required by Green & Co are met. The prospective supplier must sign the Brandon Code of Conduct which is based on the United Nations Global Compact 10 Principles and the Amfori BSCI Code of Conduct. Our Code of Conduct requires a company to meet responsibilities in areas including:
We also insist that suppliers agree to the Brandon Handbook when they sign the Brandon Code of Conduct and the Order and Shipping Agreement.
The handbook refers to, among other things, the testing standards required for various components of Green & Co’s backpack, as well as the EU Restricted Substance List (RSL) and equivalent lists for other markets, so we can consider the global impact of our products.
Suppliers must ensure full compliance with the directives in the RSL list. Links are provided to relevant webpages, so that the Handbook is continually updated with the very latest RSL information.
Next, we share a “Tech Pack” for the Green & Co backpack with suitable suppliers. The Tech Pack includes information such as product dimensions, recommended materials, approved sources for those materials, as well as the intended use of the product.
A product sample is provided by suppliers, as well as a cost quotation for producing the bags in the volume and time required by Green & Co.
It is vital that we ensure traceability throughout the supply chain. So, the source of recycled materials used to make the backpack must be proven with GRS certification (Global Recycle Standard) or a certification relevant to the specific material, such as FSC certification for paper.
See how we used reclaimed materials for Volvo Cars merchandise.
Following an evaluation of the samples and costs quoted, a preferred supplier is chosen for producing the Green & Co backpack.
We always make a risk assessment based on the complexity, value, and size of the production. If deemed necessary, a Brandon employee will visit the factory – from our headquarters in Gothenburg or our sourcing office in Shanghai – to further confirm that the production quality, CSR and sustainability standards will be met. This final check could also be done by an approved third party, such as Bureau Veritas.
Once the backpacks are delivered by the supplier, we conduct tests to verify that regulatory standards (RoHS, REACH, UKCA, CE, etc.) have been complied with and we review all certification documents.
As well as national and international regulations, the environmental impact of production can be reduced according to the needs of Green & Co. There are various ways to do this, for example, manufacturing could be “closer to source” which would reduce the time and length of transport. Consolidating orders for backpacks would also reduce the impact of transport. Or perhaps Brandon will package Green & Co backpacks using recycled materials.
See how we adapted production of Hilti Group products to improve their sustainability
Read about the sustainable practices at our Gothenburg fulfillment warehouse
If there is an order to replenish Green & Co’s backpacks, Brandon will do a new sustainability assessment on a product level. This would involve, for example, a repeat of the product material checks and verification of their traceability.
Any supplier who has received orders exceeding 100,000 SEK during the current or previous year, will be re-assessed annually by Brandon on a company level. This continuous assessment is based on Brandon’s own “Rating on Suppliers’ Service Scheme” (ROSE Scheme) which we established to improve our quality levels to meet customers’ needs, maintain control over supplier performance and identify areas for improvement.
The ROSE Scheme rates suppliers according to the following criteria:
It is our aim to have all supplier factories on the Amfori platform. On occasion, Brandon has paid for a supplier to be audited by Amfori. Unless the company has an “A” certification from Amfori, which is valid for two years, retaining Amfori membership requires an annual audit. This is done by approved third parties, such as Bureau Veritas.
It’s also important that we maintain a close working relationship with our suppliers. So, once a year, our sourcing team visits new and existing suppliers. Often these visits are part of a “factory tour” within a specific sourcing region, which allows us to meet suppliers and inspect factories over a period of days.
This approach enables Brandon to ensure the suppliers working on Green & Co’s backpack continue to meet the sustainability standards demanded of them.
The Amfori certification looks at corporate social responsibility and analyzes working conditions at the factory, as well as fair pay and equal opportunity for employees.