Environmental Challenges and Opportunities in the Supply Chain

Environmental Challenges and Opportunities in the Supply Chain

A conversation with Boeing's Dana Hullinger
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Dana Hullinger, a supply chain leader for Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security business unit. (Boeing photo)

Monday, July 24, 2017 - 1:40pm

CAMPAIGN: Boeing's 2017 Environment Report

CONTENT: Article

**This is the seventh article in a series focusing on The Boeing Company's environmental performance and progress in 2016. Visit www.boeing.com/environment for more information.**

As a supply chain leader for Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security business unit, Dana Hullinger helps drive the effort to improve performance and use data analytics to gain new insights into Boeing’s complex and diverse network of suppliers.

Supplier performance metrics include a wide range of environmental issues. Dana discusses some of the sustainability challenges and opportunities throughout the supply chain.

Can you describe Boeing’s supply chain?

More than 13,000 active suppliers account for more than $60 billion in goods and services to build Boeing products. We have suppliers in every state in the U.S. and 48 countries.

What are the main environmental and sustainability issues in supply chain activity?

They vary by region, but the issues fall into broad categories of social justice and environmental stewardship. One of the most talked about global social justice issues is conflict minerals, which refers to specific minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its surrounding countries. The mining is done with coerced labor under often harsh and unsafe conditions, and their sales are used to finance armed conflicts in the region. The minerals, including tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, are widely used in electronics and consumer products.

The U.S. and other nations have regulations against the use of products made with conflict raw materials. Boeing is a leader in working with government agencies and industry groups on ensuring compliance throughout the supply chain.

Other human rights issues involve human trafficking and the use of child labor in manufacturing in many parts of the world. Boeing trains its employees to be aware of conditions situations that could indicate a lack of supplier compliance with laws protecting human rights.

For the environment, there is growing regulation of hazardous chemicals and greenhouse gas emissions in products and manufacturing in the European Union and other regions. Energy and water conservation also are important sustainability issues.

How does Boeing address these and other global environmental issues?

We require our suppliers to comply with all global, national and local laws that protect human rights, guard against human exploitation and protect the environment. Period. It’s in the terms and conditions of their contract and it is a basic requirement to do business with Boeing. That means we need to be diligent to ensure the supply chain remains aligned with our principles and our practices, especially as we enter new markets around the world.

On key environmental issues, Boeing works closely with governments, suppliers and partners on setting industrywide standards. We are a founding member of the International Aerospace Environmental Group and the Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct, which promotes a culture of ethical conduct throughout the military supply chain.

As I mentioned earlier, we are providing more awareness training to Boeing employees, reaching out to our suppliers, and continuing to provide leadership on industry and advisory groups.

And we listen. Every year, we meet with investor groups who hold shares in Boeing and have strong interest in the social justice and environmental stewardship practices of our company and our supply chain. They want to be sure we are aligned with shareholder interests and expectations and are demonstrating progress.

Why is it important for Boeing to have a global environmental strategy?

We are the world’s largest aerospace company and social responsibility comes along with that. Our customers, shareholders, employees and communities we serve expect Boeing to be a good environmental steward and corporate citizen, and that includes our suppliers.

It’s also a major interest to our future workforce. I speak with a lot of college students in undergraduate and graduate supply chain programs, and I am likely to get more questions about the environment, social justice and conflict minerals than almost any other topic. I think it is a way for people to connect the supply chain profession with a larger, more global social purpose.

Some people may look at a complex supplier network and wonder, “Is it possible to make a difference?”

A supply chain that is large and complex doesn’t mean “no,” and the cost can’t be a reason for not getting it done. We have to find economically efficient and effective solutions to build a more sustainable future. It’s what propels us forward. So we won’t give up.