The Ocean Cleanup | Deloitte Impact Foundation


Providing a clear insight in supplier risks

Supplier Risk Assessment at The Ocean Cleanup

By the year 2040, The Ocean Cleanup is aiming to reach a 90 per cent reduction of floating ocean plastic. To succeed in this mission, the foundation is relying heavily on partnerships. “We work together with all sorts of parties, worldwide”, Lonneke Holierhoek, Director of Science & Operations at The Ocean Cleanup, says. “But in our annual planning, we had not taken a pandemic into account. We therefore wanted to clarify the risks and Deloitte helped us out tremendously with their expertise in Supplier Risk Assessment.”

“We looked for guidance. What will the long-term effects of the pandemic be? Which suppliers are sensitive to a crisis? Can they still deliver their products? And will they still exist in three months time? We named our critical execution partners, the suppliers without whom we would not be able to accomplish our goals. And Deloitte helped us out, assessing the possible risks with in-depth industry knowledge and specialized technological skills”, Lonneke says. “Not only did they give us a clear insight into the key risks, but their assessment also helped us with our vendor selection. We developed a new level of knowledge sharing with our partners. And we were able to make the right choices for reliable suppliers.” 

No high risks

Ellen van Roij, Manager Extended Enterprise Risk Management at Deloitte, explains: “First, we mapped out the impact of COVID-19. With our cross competence expertise, we also looked at broader risk areas, such as sustainability, labor, environment, safety and health, in order to achieve greater coverage of the value chain.” Ellen is responsible for the Supplier Risk Assessment project at The Ocean Cleanup together with Sem de Spa, Senior Manager Digital Risk Solutions at Deloitte. Sem: “None of the partners turned out to be at high risk. Of course, this was a great relief. But we did find a few small possible risks, issues that needed to be addressed by The Ocean Cleanup and their partner in order to keep things safe and be sure operations are able to continue.” 

Vulnerable in public opinion

“Our organization can be quite vulnerable in public opinion”, Lonneke says. “We therefore have to be especially careful with our partners. Bad publicity can turn out to be truly devastating.” That is why Deloitte also performed Risk Sensing, a capability enabled by Signal AI with which millions of online articles are screened in order to detect events that might be relevant to the foundation. Sem: “With  Signal AI’s platform, we are able to provide clients with predictive intelligence to timely mitigate risks. For instance, we found out that a prospect supplier had an incident leaking blue wax. It turned out to be a very small and harmless event. But even though in this case the incident occurred at a prospect supplier, this type of issue is always good to know about because it can bring damage to the reputation of the company.” Risk Sensing is a valuable tool, according to Lonneke. “It helps us screen our suppliers, check their stories and reports and ask the better questions.”

Working together

“Our partnership with Deloitte is maturing”, Lonneke says. “And it is wonderful to see us working together this close.” Ellen agrees: “It truly feels we are accomplishing something important together. In my private life I am always trying to give back to society and it is great to do so in my work as well. When I was asked to participate in this project, I did not hesitate for one second.” “Me neither”, Sem says. “I am not the person to go build schools for children. But I do like to contribute, bringing my own expertise and use talents where it can be of value. I absolutely enjoy helping out The Ocean Cleanup bringing more security in their operations and making sure they can keep on doing the important things they do. Risk assessment is not a one-time thing, that is why we are happy to continue our project. We will be building a new technology platform in order to digitalize risk analysis and we will keep on performing Risk Sensing. Together we can work on a responsible value chain for The Ocean Cleanup.”

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