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Why sustainable procurement should be at the top of your sustainability strategy
Procurement is perhaps one of the most important areas any business should consider if it wants to positively impact change on a wider level. Sustainability is a broad term that means different things to different people. However, at its core, sustainability is about driving positive changes in both our immediate and wider environments that is much more than just climate change and carbon emissions. So, here’s why sustainable procurement should be at the top of your sustainability strategy.
What is sustainable procurement?
Sustainable procurement means ensuring your business only purchases products and services that have the lowest environmental impact and the most positive social results.
Of course, doing good has an ability to make a business look good too, so while changes to procurement processes can appear costly to implement, they can also yield great returns.
Every single business has a procurement process that it could make more sustainable if it chose to. This is because every business has a supply chain, whether sourcing products from suppliers or outsourcing elements of work to contractors and subcontractors. Regardless of whether you have one or 100 suppliers or contractors, your supply chain is likely to be the largest source of your environmental and social impact.
Where to start
If you are just starting out on your sustainability journey, or looking to make further improvements, here are some considerations you can make today.
- Establish KPIs
The right KPIs allow you to deliver measurable, tangible sustainability results, where and when they matter. After all, if you don’t have data, you can’t measure and improve performance.
Areas you could look to measure and improve are:
- Orders – the number of orders, orders made late/on time and the time between identifying the need for an order and when orders were placed.
- Transportation – average distance for supply orders or number of unnecessary supplier journeys through lack of planning.
- Shipment receipt – number of deliveries, number of deliveries arriving later than required or quantity of damaged deliveries leading to collection and additional orders.
- Utilities – water consumption, energy consumption, electric consumption or use of recycled energy.
- The type and amount of packaging. Is it made from recycled material and how much plastic are you using. Is your packaging reusable or readily recyclable?
- Suppliers – number of suppliers, share of suppliers with ISO14001 certification, number of onsite accidents at supplier locations.
Thinking about these types of KPIs can help businesses turn their ambition of more sustainable procurement into practical actions and therefore, into results.
- Segment your suppliers
Make a list of all your suppliers, contractors and subcontractors and order them accordingly in terms of their potential impact on your sustainability performance.
Start with those who can contribute positively to your efforts. Take into account their practices around sustainability issues such as:
- Waste minimisation – identifying and limiting sources of waste, promoting recycling or aftermarket and avoiding landfill, enabling circular economy.
- Plastic avoidance – materials evaluation considering total environmental burden, sourcing portfolio redesign for minimum total impact.
- Supply chain transparency – eradication of child labour and modern slavery and auditing their own suppliers’ labour practices.
- Plan for the long term
Evaluate what is necessary and essential to your business over the long term. Sustainability itself needs to be sustainable and therefore isn’t a short-term fix.
With regards to sustainable procurement, look at what is required for your business processes to run as efficiently as possible and the equipment needed to deliver your product or service:
- Do you need it? Is it a must have or essential to business?
- Research technology – are there better products and equipment you can use to reduce such as 3D printing?
- Can you buy in bulk to reduce the number of orders required? If you are a small business, can you unite with another, similar business to help reduce waste?
- What products can be refillable?
- Can you collaborate with another business to either use their waste product or offer them yours? After all, one business’s waste is another’s raw material.
For more ideas around how to improve your sustainable procurement for your business, get in touch with YouTree today.
We can help your business impact environmental and social changes on both your immediate and wider environments. Our tailored packages can help change employee mindset, empowering them to drive change in both the workplace and at home.
Having worked in target-driven environments ourselves means we can help find ways for your business to increase value and reduce cost.
To book a no obligation, 20-minute discovery session, email firstname.lastname@example.org