Procurement will have greater emphasis on sustainability

Sustainability is gaining importance in procurement. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study, 42 percent of respondents were highly concerned with adopting more sustainable procurement strategies. Of those focused on sustainability, 87 percent wanted to optimize their organizations' carbon footprint, and 81 percent saw collaboration with suppliers as a way to achieve greater environmental responsibility. More than two-thirds of executives reported sustainability would play a greater role in future business plans. 

The study revealed executives in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industries were more concerned with sustainable procurement. Although sustainable initiatives will become much more important to executives, they still ranked behind delivery performance and cost reduction. Respondents in the industrial sector were less interested in sustainable procurement. 

As businesses move toward more sustainable models, corporate responsibility reporting is gaining traction, Sustainable Plant stated. Companies previously announced profits, losses and liabilities, but consumers, investors and stakeholders have greater interest in products that are sustainably sourced. Firms are announcing their efforts and goals to adopt more sustainable procurement practices and reduce waste. There is a greater emphasis on reporting environmental responsibility efforts, such as water use, emissions and waste management. Consumers also are interested in social impacts and indirect economic effects. 

Announcing sustainability efforts is a significant change for most manufacturing firms, but the trend has grown significantly. In 2012, 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies published sustainability reports, which increased from 20 percent in 2011, according to the source. 

Companies that were early to the sustainable reporting trend may have sought to gain an advantage as consumers grew more environmentally aware. Organizations that did not report sustainable procurement practices were trying to catch up. Some businesses may be responding to suggestions from stakeholders or changing regulations, the source said. Reporting sustainable procurement strategies could give certain organizations the added benefit of increased investment.

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