Green Procurement: Let's Get Started!
PurchTips - Edition #156 July 15, 2008
By Charles Dominick, SPSM
How Can You Implement Green Procurement?
Unless you've not had access to any media in the last year, you know that environmental responsibility is more critical than ever in business. Companies are evaluating their impact on the environment by measuring their carbon footprint - a metric representing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the activities of a company.
Why is green procurement arguably the most critical initiative for companies that want to reduce their carbon footprints?
"Our data indicates that that upwards of 60 to 70 percent of a company's carbon footprint is found along their supply chain," says Annie Berger, Relationships Director of greensupplychain.org. "We think [improving supply chain performance] holds the greatest potential to make a real difference."
So what are the first steps of green procurement?
Berger recommends starting by finding at least one environmentally-friendly alternative each time you procure a product or service. To identify such alternatives, she suggests the inclusion of these types of queries in your RFP/tender process:
- Does the supplier publish an annual sustainability report?
- How do they evaluate their suppliers on environmental performance criteria?
- Does the supplier maintain a chemical exclusion list to ensure that their processes are free from environmentally harmful chemicals?
- Ask them to explain their reverse logistics program so that you can understand their product's end-of-life reclamation strategy.
Supplier site visits can also help you evaluate the "green-ness" of a supplier. "First, ask if they have a formalized environmental management system and make reviewing that part of your visit," says Berger.
To Berger, a successful site visit means observing a formalized green program, ongoing improvement and management indicators, a reporting accountability involving top management, and the ability of the procurement and shop-floor staff to describe the green program in their own words.
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Want to learn more about today's topic? Then check out my podcast interview with Annie Berger! Podcasts are audio files that you can listen to on your PC, download to your iPod/MP3 player, or burn to CD.
It's absolutely FREE to download the audio. So why not add to your collection of great purchasing education material?