Woolworths to revamp responsible sourcing program

Woolworths_MarrickvilleMetro_Living Lettuce HydoponicsThe Woolworths Group has announced it will rollout a revamped ‘responsible sourcing program’ over the next 18 months.

The program, replacing the current ‘ethical sourcing policy’, will see Woolworths improve oversight of social compliance processes to “help ensure human rights and internationally recognised labour standards are upheld across its global supply chain.”

The new initiative will require all direct and own brand suppliers to submit social compliance assessments to Woolworths within the next 18 months.

“We’re committed to being a responsible retailer and ensuring the human rights of all workers in our operations and supply chains are protected,” said a Woolies spokesperson.

“The release of our Responsible Sourcing Program will help us to deliver on this commitment and improve the lives of workers in our supply chain.

“We’ll engage closely with our supplier partners on their compliance requirements over the next 18 months and work hard to make the process as seamless and smooth as possible.”

A key part of the program is the ability for suppliers who are already compliant with third-party schemes with other retailers can avoid doubling up, as Woolies program will allow recognition of several recognised programs.

Globally, these recognised social compliance programs are:

  • Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) and SMETA, which are already recognised by Coles and Aldi
  • Amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)
  • Social Accountability (SA) 800
  • International Councils of Toy Industries (ICTI) Ethical Toy Program
  • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)
  • Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) G.R.A.S.P.

The ‘mutual recognition’ approach will save suppliers from extra red tape and unnecessary costs, and were selected to cover a wide mapping of suppliers.

The decision is part of a larger movement in the industry to become more ethically and environmentally sustainable, seen most publicly in the recent ban on single use plastic bags – a decision which has caused a number of issues for the retailers and customers alike.

The removal of single-use plastics is part of a national push to reduce the eight million tonnes of plastic that ends up in the world’s oceans each year, according to United Nations Environment Programme figures.

Though acting in good faith, the ban drew ire from customers, forcing Woolies to back-flip on charging 15 cents for a reusable bag – instead offering them free through to July 8.

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