I read a great article earlier this morning by John Davies of Greener World Media. The article details the results of a survey of 450 companies conducted this October and makes some interesting points about green procurement trends. I’ll reflect on some of the highlights, but you can check out the full article here.

According to the survey, over the last year, companies have increased sustainable procurement practices by 63%. These purchases spanned all sorts of categories from office supplies, to cleaning chemicals, to computers. Believe it or not, office supplies led the way, with 78% of respondents claiming to have implemented procurement policies to go green. This figure must be taken with a grain of salt, though. Out of all large companies surveyed ($1 billion plus in revenue) only 53% have claimed to have included office supplies in their sustainability policies. A race for green computer production has also fostered great amounts of competition and cooperation in the computer manufacturing industry that has caused dramatic improvements in producing greener technology.

Another encouraging finding is that 73% of manufacturing firms claim that they have started to screen their direct materials for “green attributes” While 75% of all companies surveyed say they have informed suppliers that these green attributes are important and 59% even include sustainability requirements in RFP’s, it seems that some companies are still unsure how to measure just how green they are purchasing.

The GreenBiz Intelligence panel, which also conducted the survey, aims to highlight and correct this dilemma. In the article Davies cites a great example that demonstrates’ the lack of information and decision support tools that exist for companies to make truly green decisions. A panel member asked, "Is it better to buy a 'compostable' product shipped all the way from China or a recycled Styrofoam product produced in the USA (that will be recycled after use)? Always buying a 'green' product may not necessarily be a 'green' practice."

Panel members and survey respondents have noted that internal measurements such as supplier scorecards and codes of conduct as well as external measures like ISO 14001 certification and certifications from Green Seal, Forest Stewardship Council, and EPEAT have, and will continue to add to the pool of resources executives will need to guide their purchasing decisions.
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