How to Build Strategic Partnerships in the Value Chain

Successful example: Telenet's award-winning collaboration with Imsir
How to Build Strategic Partnerships in the Value Chain
Publ. date 3 Feb 2012
Responsible purchasing is an increasingly important part of supply chain management. Suppliers are analyzed on different environmental and social aspects, for example on labor conditions or the prevention of hazardous waste. By acting upon the results and making strategic partnerships within the value chain, companies can realize social, environmental, and even monetary benefits.

Several major companies are now active on socially responsible purchasing and reverse logistics. Used products can be returned to the initial company in order to integrate these product into a new product-cycle. Supply Chain Magazine gathered some key data on reverse logistics. Their research stated that the main reasons to develop reverse logistics are customer demand, optimizing the logistic flow and corporate reputation.

Circular economy business models such as reverse logistics is not only reducing the amount of waste, it is also an extra service to the customer. Telenet, the leading Belgium provider of media and telecommunication services, collaborates with sheltered workshop Imsir to provide used set-top boxes and modems with a new home, or to prepare the products for recycling.

Outsourcing and taking responsibility

For over ten years Telenet has partnered with sheltered workshop Imsir to make used products ready for recycling or a new destination. Under the moniker of ‘reverse logistics with a social touch’, Imsir repackages products with environmental-friendly material. Throughout 2012 and 2013 alone, the intensive reuse reduced the amount of waste by over 1,000 tons and realized capex savings of € 34 million. Furthermore, through this long-term partnership, labor positions are generated for people with limited access to the labor market.

At the annual Supply Chain Awards 2011 in Belgium, Telenet and Imsir received the audience award for best initiative. In order to further strengthen the partnership, the Telenet Foundation started a new program to share knowledge and improve employee involvement. Telenet employees are going to educate people at Imsir on several IT subjects such as online banking or social media. Telenet connects teambuilding to voluntary work which results in a useful and educating process for both organizations. 

Shared value through higher efficiency and job creation

Upon winning the award, Renaat Berckmoes (Telenet's Chief Financial Officer at the time) commented on the partnership : “I am relieved with the structural partnership with the sheltered workshop Imsir. Together, we have created an efficient reverse flow. In the future, this partnership will become more and more important as reverse logistics is growing and the attention for CSR is also increasing. In the cooperation with Imsir, the social aspect is very important. Through the partnership we create job opportunities for people with limited access to the labor market. Therefore, Telenet will become ambassador of VLAB, the umbrella organization for sheltered workshops in Flanders.”

In 2013, industry appreciation of Telenet’s longstanding collaboration with Imsir was reconfirmed when the partnership was rewarded with the ‘Audience 10 Years Favorite Award’ at the Belgian Supply Chain of the Year Awards.

Finch & Beak supports organizations in creating tangible value from sustainability. For more information, please contact Jan van der Kaaij, managing partner, at jan@finchandbeak.com or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.

About Nikkie Vinke

Multidisciplinary advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy development and execution. | nikkie@finchandbeak.com

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