Written by: Tara Palmer – The Pro Forum Community of Practice

Street Sign the Direction Way to Experience versus Theory

We often discuss the challenges of sustainability in regard to the physical environment, however there seems to be less focus on the practical and pragmatic ways in which we as procurement professionals, can implement change to meet the sustainability challenges within our work practices.

However, like all challenges- often the solutions are already there requiring us to simply put action around the change.

  • Firstly – TIME. Sufficient planning time allows you to plan a procurement more fully and with more thought given. The days of cut and paste are gone. Taking time to understand the market, research and identify potential issues BEFORE the procurement process begins can provide significant cost benefits.
  • Secondly – PROCESS. Regularly reviewing documentation and ensuring that Request for Offers incorporate sensible sustainability requirements. We say sensible because deciding not to do business with a local small enterprise because they don’t recycle all their paper but provide local benefits to your economy.
  • Thirdly – FOLLOWING UP. If your request for offer requests that suppliers provide sustainability policies and certifications, as part of the evaluation process, ensure these are reviewed. From a supplier’s perspective, having taken the time to review their supply chains and document appropriately, it is just as important that you as the procurement professional reviews the documentation to ensure its not just a box checking approach. An added benefit – by reviewing potential suppliers’ policies and certifications may provide new ideas for the future!

And not finished just yet – INVOLVING OTHERS – stakeholder engagement is vital – considering more than just the upfront or contract cost. Considering whole of life costs can produce vital conversations around disposal and /or recycling!

Examples might be in choosing electronics that can be recharged as opposed to relying on the use of batteries.  Or buying uniforms produced by manufacturers who use recycled cotton or purchasing printer paper that is 100% RECYCLED.

Closing the loop comes back to stakeholder engagement and working collaboratively with other departments. By sharing best practice and new ideas, you allow others to gain from your research and you in turn gain from others.

It is important that we pay more than just lip service to sustainability. We can take the lead and show others how it can be done. We would like to hear of your sustainable practices and how you discovered them – feel free to share with The Pro Forum Community of Practice here.

NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter, and specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The content must not be relied upon as legal, technical, financial or other professional advice.