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Step 1: Map your value chain

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Identify the focus of your assessment and gather data to help you draw up a value chain map.

The mapping process will provide a holistic view of your entire value chain. This requires identifying multiple factors, such as where your suppliers get their materials (your upstream value chain), how your product or service is purchased, and what happens when your customers have finished using it (your downstream value chain).

Step 1 will provide you with visual and/or data driven diagrams and images that summarise your value chain and will allow you to assess risks and opportunities in Step 2.

  Action Points

  • Identify areas of focus
    Start by looking at areas of high risk (e.g. stakeholder concern around labour related issues in manufacturing or reliance on petrochemical derived materials), major spend or the most critical issues or products.
  • Define your scope and stay within it
    Decide which area to focus on and what within this area should be included in this mapping exercise and what should be excluded. Some great examples of scope are seen in our case studies and exemplars:
    • Toyota chose to focus on its energy use within New Zealand.
    • Wellington Zoo mapped the value chain of two of its critical animal feeds.
    • Ideas Shop mapped its communications service.
    • New Zealand Post mapped the value chain of its staff uniforms.
  • Visualise your value chain
    Build a rough value chain using visual and data-driven diagrams and images (see template).
  • Gather data
    If required gather and collate data to help define issues and opportunities. Use of a Life Cycle Assessment at this stage can provide robust environmental data if this is required.
  • Test assumptions
    Test the assumptions about your value chain with staff and external parties (such as suppliers, NGOs and peers). A workshop is a useful forum to facilitate discussion.


  • What is required?
    Explore what is required to produce your product or service. Listing these down on the value chain diagram template can be useful:
    • What raw materials are used to make your product – list these down, how are the sourced, by who, and where are they sourced from?
    • Where, how and by who are the materials processed and what's involved?
    • Where, how and by who is your product manufactured?
  • How is it bought?
    • Where or how do you purchase materials, products or services?
    • Who supplies your suppliers?
    • Where or how do your customers buy your product or service?
  • How is your product or service used?
    Think about how your customers use your product or service. Does it require other resource use e.g. water, fuel or electricity, will it require regular maintenance?
  • What happens once it's finished?
    What do your customers do with your product or service once they have finished using it, or parts of it? Does it have further value e.g. is it reused or recycled?
  • How is it moved?
    How is your product or service transported throughout each value chain stage? E.g. how does it get from manufacturers to consumers?

  Tools & Resources