My take on the SAP Sustainability Summit (from a mining & mill point-of-view)
Due to our own parallel SAP Mill & Mining & Chemicals Conferences, I missed most of the SAP Sustainability Summit. I raced through the recording, and would like to give you my 2 cents from a mill products & mining perspective.
Calculating Footprints of Products
One important announcement was about SAP Product Footprint Management. Priti Prabhoo’s gave a great overview of the soon to be launched SAP Product Footprint Management, and the insights into the concepts behind the product.
It all starts with product footprint data collection (like material movements, quantity structures, or EHS “emissions” from SAP business applications), move into sustainability content management which looks at different footprint categories (like carbon, or water) and sustainability reference content from external data providers, and finally delivers product footprint assessment along the product lifecycle, and analytics. The ultimate last step is to integrate this information back into key business processes to drive decisions.
Three Thoughts on This
First, I really like how the different puzzle pieces come together into a clear product vision. The whole concept of the “green line”, of embedding sustainability as a dimension into the core SAP solutions, is nicely translated into a process flow. The starting point (and in my opinion an essential advantage to have this on SAP) are the transactional, movement, and consumption data that are already in the ERP system.
Second, I am happy to see EHS emissions explicitly mentioned. EHS Environment Management will continue to plays its role to measure, calculate, track and report on greenhouse gas emissions to meet their regulatory reporting and compliance goals. (SAP customer RHI Magnesita gave a separate deep dive on best practices for using EHS exactly for this – both at the Sustainability Summit and at the 2021 Hannover Fair).
Third, glad to see that SAP is striving for an open content partner ecosystem. For some footprint information you will realistically not have all data available, and referring back to proven industry databases like ecoinvent is a smart move.
SAP Product Carbon Footprint Management will help to calculate product footprint at scale for 1000s of products across different regions on an enterprise level. This will be increasingly important for “product-centric companies”.
We are currently 8% circular globally, which means 92% of resources are wasted (damaging our ecosystems and livelihood) and also value lost. We discussed about circularity at our own conference, and its potential to save on carbon emissions, by recycling industrial scrap in closed loops, by converting waste streams into secondary material streams, using waste as a resource.
Partners for Circularity
Cemex talked in our conference about Trinov for multi-tier waste tracking from demolition site to processing and next uses. At the Sustainability Summit, we heard about Topolytics introducing a solution for waste traceability and analytics in the UK, and Greentoken, a start-up that provides multi-tier traceability of co-mingled goods (like plastics waste) from waste source to final products.
Extended Producer Responsibility
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a big topic for consumer products industries putting a price tag to introducing plastic packaging. SAP’s working on a new solution for responsible design and production to provide packaging designers with tools to design out waste from the start.
Sustainability in the Battery Value Chain
The main topic of our own sustainability panel at the SAP Mining & Metals conference was value chain collaboration. It’s great to see this topic repeated in the Sustainability Summit with Audi, BASF and SAP talking about the Global Battery Alliance. This one will be interesting to follow for mining and refining companies – for initial provenance information, as well as for end-of-life aspects.
From Ambition to Strategy to Steering a Company
Assume you have pledged to decarbonize by 2030, and measure yourselves according to science-based targets. SAP has announced another very interesting solution with “Corporate Sustainability Reporting and Steering”. I would call this a digital boardroom and performance management solution for sustainability, connecting the pledged goals to KPIs to actions and data points.
You can look at this from a company perspective but also from external perspective or frameworks, like GRI, WEF, and many others. A bit like looking at your company figures according to different accounting standards. Looks very close to the home turf of a company like SAP.
My POV and Next Steps
This summit was an important milestone giving the high-level “green line” message much more substance. The products were announced as roadmap with disclaimers, but a good first glimpse into SAP’s short to midterm plans.
I was missing solutions mentioned like
- SAP Rural Sourcing Management, as a possibility to integrate the informal sector (like scrap or waste collectors, or artisanal miners).
- SAP Integrated Business Planning, Transportation Management and Logistics Business Network for planning and executing the reverse supply chain.
- SAP Commodity Management as a foundation for dealing with valuable minerals in secondary materials.
- SAP Ariba Network to source and sell secondary materials
But it may well be, that I did not watch closely enough. Let me know if I missed something else.
You may watch the replays of the SAP Sustainability Summit to recap the key points and see the early product demos first hand. I intentionally did not include too many screenshots. It’s much better to see live.
I would also recommend to reach out to SAP to match your own ambition and roadmap against SAP’s plans. The sustainability topic will only get more important and strategic.
How about your company? How do you shift from CSR reports and Excel towards an executable and measurable plan towards your goals?