Why ACI Group puts social sustainability at the heart of business

Dec 2022

At ACI Group, we’re committed to our values. We think service and sustainability throughout the supply chain go hand-in-hand. And we don’t waver in our commitment to that, even in the face of the greatest challenges.

There is no greater challenge facing all of us right now than the future of our planet and the people who live on it. Sustainability and business ethics are the defining issues of our time – and we’re proud of the work we’ve done to embed social sustainability into the core of our business.

What social sustainability means to us

We’re ‘all in’ on sustainability. Climate science tells us more needs to be done to guard against climate change in the future, and the bare minimum is no longer enough. A socially sustainable approach doesn’t just look at individual headline-grabbing factors affecting our environment – such as plastic waste, for example – but rather takes a deeper, 360-degree view of how these individual issues are interconnected, and what they mean for people around the world.

An example of this can be demonstrated by the current cost of living crisis. Studies estimate that 42% of recent food price inflation is down to climate change, which is damaging crop yields across the world. This, in turn, impacts farming communities, particularly in poorer regions, and creates a demand for increased farming capacity. This often leads to deforestation – Greenpeace estimates around 80% of deforestation is down to agricultural production. It’s all connected.

After many years of talk, legislators have committed to addressing this at the recent COP27 event through the formation of a ‘loss and damage’ fund, which acknowledges that poorer communities are the most affected by climate change and resource exploitation. But businesses have a part to play in this too, by making more socially responsible choices.

Everything a business does impacts the planet and its people. No business can avoid a range of direct and indirect impacts in the economies that it operates in, but it can control whether these impacts will be positive or negative. At ACI Group, we’re acutely aware of our role in the global supply chains of our customers. By making socially responsible choices ourselves, we can give our customers the confidence they need to play their part in ensuring the future of our planet.

What we’re doing about it

We’re proud to be the first Distributor to earn the Social Value Quality Mark (SVQM) Level 1, and we’re working towards Level 2. SVQM is an internationally-recognised accreditation that indicates the social and ethical values of a business.

We earned this in part through our service and processes, which we strive to make as clear and transparent as possible. This means we’re committed to open, honest communication with both our suppliers and our customers, and we hold all our stakeholders to the same high standards that we hold ourselves. By embedding these values within ourselves, we embed them up and downstream in the supply chain.

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. With that in mind, we also pledge to consider the use of sustainable alternatives as they become available. Again, this is considered in a 360-degree, holistic view that looks at all aspects of a product’s life cycle. Using our Flomac service as an example, we may source an adhesion promoter additive that is produced using more traditionally sustainable materials. However, if this additive delivers an unsatisfactory performance that results in the road degrading prematurely and needing to be re-laid, this will have a net negative effect on its carbon footprint when compared to an existing solution.

This is just one of the many factors we consider in our monthly supply chain reviews, which we use to identify risks to markets, and blockers that can cause issues. We also carry out detailed annual reviews of all our suppliers, judging them against strict environmental criteria.

And it’s not just suppliers that are under the microscope – we continually invest in our people and processes to encourage innovation and optimise efficiency across our business. This reduces waste – in terms of water, energy, and by-products – and develops more sustainable habits throughout the supply chain.

As a leading Distributor, no one understands the importance of connections more than us, so we know the complex web of interconnected topics that social sustainability covers better than anyone. By embedding social sustainability into the DNA of our business, we can embed it into yours. Together, we can solve the problems of today – and tomorrow – to secure a brighter, greener future for all of us.

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