Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Mar-Apl 2017 Contents 32 INCLEAN March/April 2017
By: Emma Berthold*
Sustainable procurement is designed to take into account the
environmental, social and economic impacts of purchased goods and
services for a business.
Often such guidance is provided in the form of a policy document
which may have been written by, or in consultation with, a
procurement professional. This policy is then used whenever any
goods or services need to be purchased for a company, building,
organisation, government department – the list goes on.
So what exactly goes into these policies? What, exactly, is
“sustainable” procurement? What should purchasers be looking for
– and what should product manufacturers do to ensure their product
Without a background in sustainable purchasing or a solid
working knowledge of the surrounding issues, it can be challenging
to know what sort of criteria to include in a policy document, or
which products and services meet those criteria.
Getting the basics right
A good sustainable procurement policy will start with the basics. It
should identify the organisation’s most important sustainability goals
and how these goals align with the core values of the business.
Once the priorities are set, it’s a case of identifying the
environmental, health and social impacts of a purchase, considering
the main impact areas over the full life cycle of the product, from
raw material sourcing to disposal.
Once priorities have been set and a sustainable policy framework
has been established, how can professionals choose between multiple
products making similar sustainability claims?
Choosing specific and measureable criteria for selecting goods and
services can be extremely challenging without the benefit of prior
knowledge of exactly what makes a product or service “green” or
sustainable in the first place.
After the criteria is established, the second challenge lies in
assessing the products that fit these criteria - whether they really live
up to their claims and meet those criteria.
Sustainability labels, such as Good Environmental Choice
Australia’s (GECA) ecolabel, can fit perfectly into sustainable
procurement policies – the sustainability standards have already been
established and certifying bodies have done all the work for you in
checking whether a product actually meets those criteria.
It makes sense to look to organisations that make sustainable products
their business and have their products carry an ecolabel on them.
A wide range of cleaning products for a variety of commercial and
industrial applications have already been certified with GECA, making
it easier for purchasers to source sustainable cleaning solutions.
It’s not just manufacturers who can benefit from the extra credibility
that third party certification can provide, but service providers as
well. For service providers who claim to use sustainable products and
practices, certification can give their company an extra edge, making it
more likely that they will be selected over their competitors.
Unfortunately, for some markets, finding a product or service with
certification can be more of a challenge, as only a fraction of products
or services might carry an ecolabel. In these cases, where it may be
necessary to find ways to increase the range of choice available, it can
be helpful to use criteria from sustainability standards documents to
help form the backbone of a procurement policy document.
International Standard to be released
On a global scale, sustainable procurement will soon become a
little easier, with the release of a new International Standard. The
ISO20400 International Standard for Sustainable Procurement
is designed to provide guidance for organisations seeking to
incorporate sustainability into their procurement policies and
practices. The standard has recently been finalised and is due for
release around March 2017.
And if you’re wondering whether sustainable procurement is worth
it, research from EcoVadis has found that 50 per cent of sustainable
procurement leaders increased their revenue from sustainability
initiatives – a 33 per cent increase over non-leaders.
As organisations place increasingly high importance on sustainable
procurement generally, it’s clear that product manufacturers and
service providers would do well to make sure their product is
genuinely sustainable and that their claims are credible.
Emma Berthold is Communications Officer at Good Environmental
What is sustainable procurement?
“A good sustainable procurement
policy will start with the basics. It
should identify the organisation’s
most important sustainability goals
and how these goals align with the
core values of the business.”
To discuss editorial, talk to
INCLEAN’s editor Claire Hibbit
on 02 8586 6140 or email
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