However, a Sustainable Procurement Policy brings tangible benefits:
- Reduces external environmental, economic, and social risks. Many scandals involve first-tier suppliers, like Nike and Adidas working with suppliers that discharge toxins into rivers in China, or Apple, sourcing electronics from overseas companies with poor working conditions.
- Fosters Competitive advantage by leading suppliers to innovate – innovative products create value for the company.
- Increases the company’s attractiveness for partners, customers and talents.
- Drives internal change management by promoting new sustainable behaviours within the teams.
- Is cost-efficient, especially when considering the whole life cycle of a product: saves materials, energy, reduces waste and pollution.
- 2. Define improvement areas, develop a strategy and build an action plan
Identify the most significant procurement categories:
- Consider which products, services or activities are the most strategic for your company.
- Considering these strategic products, services or activities, which ones have the biggest environmental impacts?
- Prioritize sustainable criteria considering your company’s industry.
If needed, you might start implementing on a small category to test the approach before extending to other categories.
Set tangible procurement objectives, such as:
- Increasing the number of suppliers holding a CSR rating such as Ecovadis
- Increasing the number of suppliers holding a sustainable certification such as PEFC for paper,
- Increasing the share of green products/services,
- Decreasing suppliers’ carbon footprint with your products or services (link to carbon management part).
Build an action plan and prioritize:
- Evaluate each purchasing category based on the defined criteria,
- Classify your purchasing categories started with the most significant procurement field to operate.
- 3. Redesign the purchasing process
Start with this first challenging question: do you really need this product or service? Indeed, frugality is the best way to save money and protect the planet!
Detail environmental factors to be included in the specifications:
- These factors will motivate your suppliers to innovate,
- Examples: green transport, packaging, maintenance, old products removal, product traceability…
Select green suppliers to compete for Request For Quotation (RFQ):
- Ask them for certifications,
- Ask for a standard evaluation such as Ecovadis,
- Choose local suppliers (to limit transportation),
- Evaluate suppliers’ sustainable practices.
Include sustainable choice criteria in the suppliers' offers analysis:
- Add a sustainable global ratio in your evaluation: from 10 to 20% of the total scoring,
- This sustainable evaluation could include sustainable or eco-certified products, sustainable packaging, local production, environment-friendly transportation methods, other specific criteria depending on the purchasing category.
Limit the number of purchase orders to minimize logistics and transport:
- Aggregate orders among services/departments,
- Buy products in bulk to reduce the packaging used per item,
- Define a minimum amount for an order,
- Limit the number of suppliers to aggregate volumes.
Where appropriate, specify the environmental criteria that need to be included in the contract.
6. Measure and monitor performance using KPIs
Evaluate and report on your sustainability policy’s performance.
Monitor different levels:
Define global procurement targets and KPIs such as:
- Increase the number of sustainable products or services purchased. KPI: % of products and services purchased by the sustainable procurement principles.
- Increase the number of local suppliers. KPI: % of local suppliers among the total of suppliers.
- Reduce carbon footprint for main products’ volumes: limit water and energy consumption and/or transport. KPI: suppliers’ water and/or energy consumption.
- Grow your pool of suppliers holding a CSR certification. KPI: % of suppliers with CSR certification.
- Reduce the use of hazardous raw material.
- Decrease the weight and volume of your packaging and introduce reusable packaging.
- Reduce the volume of raw material.
- Limit the number and the frequency of deliveries and monitor orders’ volumes.
- Increase the number of tenders with CSR criteria. KPI: % of tenders with CSR criteria.
Detail procurement targets and KPIs per procurement categories.
7. Complete your actions with carbon compensation/offset
This approach should be considered only once you have already conducted sustainable procurement actions plans.
To go further:
- See ISO 14001 international norm which provides practical tools to design and implement an environmental management system.
- See Ecovadis certification.
- When suitable, be careful about the sustainable practices of your suppliers’ suppliers: lower-tier suppliers also contribute to your sustainable procurement plan and generally reduce your sustainability performance and increase your risks.