Today’s consumption-oriented economies are fueling the demand for natural resources at the same time as the ongoing globalization enable cross-border trade of these. This has led to great economic opportunities for developing countries that possess generous land reserves through export of for example rare metals. However, this development has not only led to positive consequences, but has also contributed to environmental and social problems. Therefore, companies such as GKN have an important commitment to ensure that procurement of materials like these takes place in controlled and sustainable manners.
Through my projects within the purchasing department, I have got an understanding of what variables that are important when choosing suppliers. Criteria such as capabilities, abilities and quality are obviously among the most important ones when choosing a supplier, but there are other aspects that are important as well, such as the supplier’s work on sustainability issues. The concept of sustainability includes social, economic and ecological sustainability, where some aspects are regulated by laws, while others are controlled by company-specific values. Common to all three is that they are all important in order to sustain an attractive community also in the future.
Because GKN Aerospace is using several different alloys, there is a wide variety of metals in our products. From a sustainability perspective, it is important that the origins of these metals are checked to ensure that they come from suppliers that conform to the sustainability requirements. I’m currently working on a project within this area, namely in a project regarding conflict minerals.
Conflict minerals is the name of a group of metals (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) that are extracted in the DRC region to finance ongoing conflicts. This financing should obviously be stopped by decreasing demand of these conflict metals. This requires that companies that are buying tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold, make sure that these do not come from an organization that supports the military groups in the DRC area. This is done through mapping the value chain and investigating the origins of the metals that are used. This will reveal if any metals are sourced from a company that is supporting the conflict in the DRC, and changes can be made if necessary.
It feels both interesting and important to work on this project as it is not only important for the company, but is also important to keep the world sustainable.