Nigel Crunden, business specialist at Office Depot, argues that there is more to sustainability than just buying green products
It can be all too easy to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to reducing a commercial carbon footprint through procuring products with green credentials.
However, knee-jerk reactions are never ideal, and to maximise the impact of sustainable procurement it is vital to establish a firm framework of the potential savings that can be made in line with a wider sustainability strategy, as well as a timeline of progress.
Lay the right foundations
The supply chain can make up a significant proportion of a business’s carbon footprint. It is therefore important to quantify how much of an overall impact your business has on the environment and, where possible, make changes to the procurement process accordingly.
Before putting checks and controls in place to improve the green credentials of the supply chain, your business’s overall sustainability strategy and objectives must be checked. Setting measurable targets can help you benchmark success and ensure progress doesn’t slip. Without aligning tactical efforts to an overall strategy, efforts can become disjointed and fragmented.
Examine your supply chain and consolidate
Buyers within your business should first examine the way in which goods and services are procured and the number of suppliers used.
Failure to address this can have a negative impact on procurement costs and prevent you from streamlining the number of deliveries being made. Using suppliers that can source multiple categories of products and services locally will enable you to reduce the supply chain’s environmental impact and drive cost savings.
When looking to consolidate a supplier network, you should identify companies with an eco- friendly approach to business, for example ones that position sustainable product choices more readily than competitors or are forward thinking in how they make deliveries. Your buyers must be ready to challenge suppliers about their approach and seek alternatives to any that aren’t prepared to adapt their service to suit your requirements.
Ensuring efforts are in line with industry standards
Sustainable business is far more than a box-ticking exercise; it has become essential to remaining competitive.
By identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) and checks, procurement teams can be confident that their efforts are contributing to on-going reductions in carbon emissions. It also allows them to report accurately on progress and persuade those at board level of the significance of this focus.
Such an approach also helps incorporate sustainable procurement into the overall culture of an organisation and minimises the risk of it being merely for show.