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Transparency without borders: The European Supply Chain Sourcing Obligations Act.

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Eine Person hält einen Wasserball, auf dem die Welt aufgedruckt ist


Our world clock ticks.

Co2 Clock / Mercator Research Werte auf einem Planeten im All

This is the CO2 clock of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (as of 01 December 2022). It indicates how much CO2 may be released into the atmosphere to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and 2°C, respectively.

Paris Climate Agreement 

Article 2(1) of the Paris Climate Agreement sets a legally binding limit for all countries on global warming of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, but at least well below 2 degrees. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, however, such a limit can only be implemented if all emissions worldwide are brought to zero in one to two decades. At the same time, the United Nations Global Convention on Biological Diversity stipulates that species loss must be halted and reversed. The EU and Germany are miles away from both goals. As of January 1, 2023, the Supply Chain Sourcing Obligations Act (LkSG) will therefore initially come into force in Germany. But the European one is already in the starting blocks. Read here:

  • Brief summary of the German LkSG and which companies are affected by it and how the European LkSG and its core challenges for companies

  • What obligations companies will face.

LkSG/ Supply Chain Act: The duty to be transparent is coming

The LkSG will define what obligations companies have in complying with the protection of human rights and environmental rights, and will specifically hold companies accountable for identifying, preventing, ending, or at least minimizing risks and violations of human and environmental rights along their supply chains.

Penalty in the amount of up to 2%

of the total annual turnover.

If companies violate the LkSG after it has come into force, management must expect severe sanctions such as a restriction of market access and further legal consequences against the company as well as liability risks (penalties of up to 2% of the total annual turnover).

LkSG affects companies

The LkSG will initially apply from January 2023 to companies domiciled in Germany and companies with a branch pursuant to Section 13 d of the German Commercial Code (HGB) with at least 3,000 employees in Germany. From January 2024, the law will then apply to companies with at least 1,000 employees in Germany.

Trickle Down: LkSG affects a variaty of companies indirectly.

The responsibility of companies will not only relate to their direct suppliers and partners. In the future, the scope of responsibility will extend to the entire supply chain, including their indirect suppliers! This is because affected companies will oblige their contractual partners to take appropriate actions and disclose their supply chain in order to comply with their own legal obligations. This indirectly affects tens of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany alone.

As you can see, this development will by no means only affect a select group of companies. Firstly, companies always work in an integrated and mostly global network. And secondly, the LkSG is taking the leap onto the European stage.

LkSG on European level

The EU is already working on an overarching draft law in Europe and will bring different national supply chain laws to similar standards. As a European law, it can be stricter and more consistent than national laws such as the German or, for example, the French supply chain law.

To which companies does the EU Supply Chain Act apply

  • For companies that have more than 500 employees and a turnover of more than 150 million euros.

  • If they have more than 20 million euros in sales in risk sectors, the sales threshold drops to 40 million euros and the employee threshold drops to 250.

  • The risk sectors include textile, agriculture, food, raw material extraction, metal processing, among others. Mechanical engineering is excluded.

  • For companies from third countries, a threshold of more than EUR 150 million in annual sales in the EU (i.e. no employee threshold) or EUR 40 - 150 million in annual sales in the EU with at least EUR 20 million in risk sectors applies.

No safe harbor

The so-called safe harbor clause could certainly have made life easier for many companies: According to this clause, lawsuits in the event of violations within supply chains would hardly have been possible once external auditors had confirmed to European companies that their supply chains were flawless.

However, this safe harbor cannot be reached now, as the Council of Ministers has not complied with the German government's request to introduce such a clause. On the contrary, there will be three massive tightenings within the EU supply chain law:

3 central tightenings

Unlike the German Supply Chain Act, victims of human rights violations can also enforce civil liability!

The EU law basically obliges all suppliers - not only those with a long-term established business relationship, as originally planned by the EU Commission.

In the German Supply Chain Act, the involvement of intermediate companies can circumvent the obligations. According to the will of the member states, this circumvention option is now closed throughout Europe.

Vordergrund: Gerichtshammer, Hintergrund jemand in Robe

Managing global risks internally

In the future, companies will have to provide evidence of the implementation of numerous measures:

Establishment and anchoring of a risk management system within the company: Anchoring clear responsibilities within the company for the purpose of monitoring.

  • Conduct risk analysis: Identify, assess and prioritize relevant human rights and other risks.

  • Policy statement of the Board of Management on human rights strategy: Communication of the same to internal and external stakeholders

  • Establishment of preventive measures: Appropriate measures within own business unit as well as with direct suppliers

  • Taking corrective action: When a violation is identified in own business unit or with an immediate supplier

  • Intra-company complaint procedures: To enable reporting of human rights and environmental violations.

  • Ongoing documentation and reporting requirements: With regard to the measures implemented

The LkSG will have profound consequences, as it will affect countless areas of the company and change structures here.

Both the German and the European LkSG are integrated into the so-called circular economy, which is experiencing a true renaissance. Read the most important facts:

Quellennachweise und zum Weiterlesen (Stand Februar 2023)

Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz (LkSG)

Hembach, Holger (2022): Praxisleitfaden Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz (LkSG) (CB - Compliance Berater Schriftenreihe). Fachmedien Recht und Wirtschaft in Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH; 1. Auflage.

Jürgens, Max / Harings, Lothar (2022): Das Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz: Umsetzung und Auswirkungen des LkSG in der Praxis. Reguvis Fachmedien; 1. Edition.

Grabosch, Robert (Hrsg.) (2021): Das neue Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz. Nomos; 1. Edition.

Falder, Roland / Frank-Fahle, Constantin / Poleacov, Peter (2022): Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz: Ein Überblick für Praktiker

Springer Gabler; 1. Aufl. 2022 Edition (7. Mai 2022)

BMAS Das Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz

CSR in Deutschland - Das Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz

Deutscher Bundestag verabschiedet Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz

Deloitte: Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz in der Praxis

Bayerischer Rundfunk: EU-Länder einigen sich grundsätzlich auf Lieferkettengesetz

Die Initiative Lieferkettengesetz:

Absatzwirtschaft: Nachhaltigkeit in der Lieferkette: Zeit für Gerechtigkeit


Rau, Thomas / Oberhuber, Sabine (2021): Material Matters: Wie eine neu gedachte Circular Economy uns zukunftsfähig macht | Die Antwort auf die Klimakrise ist die Kreislaufwirtschaft. Econ; 1. Edition

Münger, Alfred (2021): Kreislaufwirtschaft als Strategie der Zukunft: Nachhaltige Geschäftsmodelle entwickeln und umsetzen. Haufe; 1. Auflage

Beckmann, Martin (2022): Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz: Kreislaufwirtschafts- und Abfallgesetz mit Verordnungen, Abfallverbringungsrecht. beck im dtv; 23. Edition

Europäisches Parlament: Recht auf Reparatur: Für Produkte, die langlebiger und reparierbar sind

VDI: Zirkuläre Wertschöpfung. Werkstoffliches und chemisches Recycling von Kunststoffabfällen

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

Europäische Kommission: Circular economy action plan (CEAP):

Europäische Kommission zum neuen Aktionsplan der Kreislaufwirtschaft:

Recyclingnews: EU-Kommission will nachhaltige Produkte zur Norm machen

EUR Lex (Zugang zu den Originaltexten) A new Circular Economy Action Plan:

Umweltbundesamt: Abfall- und Kreislaufwirtschaft

NABU: Kreislaufwirtschaft:


United Nations Global Compact:

United Nations Global Compact: Nachhaltigkeit in der Lieferkette:

Europäer Green Deal

BMUV Den ökologischen Wandel gestalten. Integriertes Umweltprogramm 2030.

brand eins Sonderausgabe Der neue grüne Deal Dezember 2020

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

Europäische Kommission: Der Grüne Deal

Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: The European Green Deal:

DIHK: Worum geht es beim Green Deal?


EUR Lex (Originaltexte): On making sustainable products the norm

Umweltbundesamt: Ökodesign-Richtlinie

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28. März 2022: Wie die EU Produkte ökologischer macht

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

BMZ: Die globalen Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung

IHK: Die UN Nachhaltigkeitsziele (SDGs) als Maßstab für verantwortungsvolles Unternehmertum

United Nations Global Compact:


BMUV: Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz

BMBF (Plastik): WErtschöpfungsketten gestalten

Stiftung zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister: Mindeststandard recyclinggerechtes Design:

Europäisches Parlament: Recht auf Reparatur: Für Produkte, die langlebiger und reparierbar sind

VDI Zentrum Ressourceneffizienz:

Recyclingnews: EU-Kommission will nachhaltige Produkte zur Norm machen

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

ESG & Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung

Rat der Europäischen Union: Neue Vorschriften für die Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung von Unternehmen: vorläufige politische Einigung zwischen Rat und Europäischem Parlament

Regularien zum Greenwashing

BMUV Den ökologischen Wandel gestalten. Integriertes Umweltprogramm 2030.

Europäische Kommision: Unfair commercial practices directive

Europäische Kommision: Kreislaufwirtschaft: Kommission schlägt neue Verbraucherrechte vor und will Greenwashing verbieten

NKS / Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung: EU legt Vorschläge für nachhaltige Produkte vor

Digitaler Produktpass (DPP)

Digtler Produkpass

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

BMUV Der BMU Design-Sprint zum Digitalen Produktpass für die Elektromobilität

Umweltbundesamt Förderung des nachhaltigen Konsums durch digitale

Produktinformationen: Bestandsaufnahme und Handlungsempfehlungen

BDI Der „Digitale Produktpass“ auf dem Prüfstand

Recyclingnews: EU-Kommission will nachhaltige Produkte zur Norm machen

DKE Digitaler Produktpass: Förderung der Digitalisierung und Kreislaufwirtschaft durch standardisierte Daten

Europäische Kommission: Circular economy action plan (CEAP):


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