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Aligning Industry Standards for Sustainable Supply Chains

The Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) is an independent benchmarking process, exclusively designed for third-party auditing and certification schemes. Based on criteria developed by industry members and external stakeholders like supply chain and sustainability experts, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs, the SSCI sets the bar for what the industry expects from auditing schemes. 

The SSCI benchmark is currently applicable to social compliance schemes and welcomes schemes to submit applications for benchmarking against its Social and Scheme Management Criteria. The details of these criteria are listed below. The SSCI currently performs benchmarking for schemes under its first scope on Manufacturing and Processing. A second scope on Primary Production will introduce criteria for Land-based Agriculture and Aquaculture, which are currently being developed by the SSCI Technical Working Groups. A third scope on At-Sea Operations and its criteria will be open for public consultation this summer. Both the Aquaculture and At-Sea Operations scopes are being developed through an ongoing collaboration with the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).

The Benchmarking Process

To achieve SSCI recognition, programmes need to undergo benchmarking according to the SSCI methodology. This process starts with an application to the SSCI team and includes a self-assessment, a desktop review by an independent SSCI expert Benchmark Leader (BL), an office visit from the SSCI and the BL coupled with a public consultation and a final industry validation. If all criteria are met, the scheme is recognised by the SSCI.

The SSCI process is streamlined with the benchmark methodology of the CGF Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to ensure a consistent approach to benchmarking across the CGF. 

Social Criteria


The SSCI’s Social Criteria identify the key foundational elements of any effective and responsible social sustainability standard. These criteria ensure that all relevant social sustainability topics are being covered by an auditing scheme. The SSCI Social Criteria are informed by international reference frameworks such as principles from relevant International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions, the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the CGF Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labour. The criteria include the following elements:

  • Management Systems
  • Compliance with National Legislation
  • No Forced, Bonded and Prison Labour
  • No Child Labour
  • Freedom of Association and Effective Recognition of the Right to Collective Bargaining
  • No Discrimination, Harassment or Abuse
  • Health and Safety
  • Building and Fire Safety
  • Wages, Benefits and Terms of Employment
  • Working Hours
  • Grievance Mechanisms

Scheme Management Criteria

The SSCI Scheme Management criteria cover elements which ensure auditing schemes operate in a credible manner. They establish the foundational elements of what the industry expects regarding how audits are performed so that they respect social sustainability standards. These criteria are based on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) scheme management criteria, the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) governance and operational management criteria, and ISEAL criteria. The criteria include the following elements:


  • Scheme Governance
  • Scope and Objectives
  • Integrity Programme
  • Logo Use and Claims
  • Standard Setting and Maintenance



Operational Management / System

  • Accreditation
  • Relationship with Audit Firms
  • Auditor Competence
  • Audit Protocol
  • Audit Reporting
  • Follow-up Action
  • Data Management

In order to achieve SSCI recognition, schemes have to undergo benchmarking according to the SSCI methodology and meet all the social and scheme management criteria. Please consult our FAQs for further information. 

Working Together to Build Trust

“The SSCI recognises that collaboration will be crucial in tackling social and, as the project develops, environmental sustainability problems. The challenges we face are so complex that they require the private sector, governments, NGOs and the investor community to come together and drive positive outcomes”.

Chris Tyas, Global Head Supply Chain, Nestlé SA