Resource risk strategies falling foul of insufficient data

A lack of robust data is hampering efforts by businesses and their supply chains to guard against some of the biggest environmental risks associated with their goods and services.

The increasingly complexity of manufactured products now makes it almost impossible to understand the value of materials in a supply chain, presenting real resource risks for businesses as climate pressures take hold.

This pressing issue was discussed in some detail at the launch event of the Defra/BIS Resource Dashboard in London yesterday (July 29) hosted by the Knowledge Transfer Network for Environmental Sustainability (ESKTN).

The dashboard, which is a key output of the Government’s Resource Security Action Plan, is a business tool that aims to define in greater detail how resource security links to critical materials supply.

According to the British Geological Survey’s head of Science for minerals & waste Andrew Bloodworth, global supply chains are drawing on more and more rare earth elements to feed demand for smarter IT and communications.

However there remains a worrying lack of understanding around the geological nature of these materials and their respective resource risks.
“The increasingly complexity of technologies we are using means we are using more of the periodic table,” he said.

“The trouble is, things can change really quickly and the big issue is data, it’s very hard to get the data we need, particularly around secondary recycling materials.”

Bloodworth argued that with such poor metrics around raw materials extraction and secondary material flows, there is a pressing need for intervention right across the supply chain.

However working out what type of new data is needed, what form it should take, and how it can be accessed, is one of the key stumbling blocks according to ESKTN deputy director David Gardner.

“Material security and price volatility are big global risks to industry and business – but how do you differentiate between the two? How are people looking to use such data, where should that data be held and who should manage it? These are the big questions,” he said.

Read the full article ‘Big data, the key to navigating the resource risk maze?’

Maxine Perella

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