Sustainability models need green procurement

Creating an eco-friendly product is not enough unless businesses focus on procurement's role in sustainability efforts. Major corporations are taking efforts to become more sustainable, but it requires working with suppliers to achieve green initiatives, according to Green Biz. A green procurement strategy needs to be aligned with the product carrier and supplier relationships.

It may be easier for companies to start small with sustainability and begin with measurable practices. Sustainable sourcing needs to be in line with the organization's strategy for green initiatives to be successful. 

Some major electronics companies are moving toward sustainable practices by working with suppliers. In AT&T's manufacturing facilities, fan belts for building mechanical equipment have been swapped out for new models with better energy efficiency, Green Biz stated. Best Buy is redesigning its in-store display units for reuse, which can reduce costs. The units contain several commodities that can be substituted for more eco-friendly materials, such as wood composites, metals and plastics. To accomplish this, the corporation would need to collaborate with key suppliers to identify sustainable replacements that would still meet the company's needs. Dell notebook computers have room for sustainability improvements as well. The laptops could be redesigned to reduce embedded energy and extend the lifecycle of the device. 

Sustainability can be rooted in self-interest

Businesses are facing greater sustainability challenges, and green initiatives are not progressing quickly enough to prevent severe environmental damage, according to a recent project from GlobeScan and SustainAbility called the Regeneration Roadmap. The private sector needs to take a greater role in reducing environmental impacts, and the key to driving sustainability may be business self-interest. Companies have low expectations for government regulations that will change sustainability. Large corporations may have a greater ability to change environmental impacts.

With consumers taking a greater interest in sustainable product sourcing, companies need to respond and adopt more eco-friendly strategies. Not acting on sustainable development challenges could put organizations at risk of losing revenue, Environmental Leader stated. Since the stakes are higher for sustainable developments, making progress will require more effort, and many organizations will need to change strategies to stay profitable. 

Two-thirds of consumers in six countries realized the need to consume less and purchase more sustainable products, according to the Regeneration Roadmap. People in developing markets like Brazil, India and China had a great understanding of the need for more sustainable consumption. More than half of consumers in developing markets said they bought products because of low environmental impact or social benefits. Only 22 percent of consumers in developed markets were likely to buy products based on environmental factors alone. 

As consumers continue to place emphasis on sustainable products, businesses that position themselves to deliver eco-friendly products and services may gain a competitive advantage. By adopting sustainable strategies, companies can improve their bottom lines, according to AmeriQuest. Green initiatives can help organizations reduce costs, minimize risks, boost revenue and drive innovation. 

Large organizations may be able to change small processes that could significantly improve business sustainability. Con Agra changed its packaging in 2012, and saved $22 million by reducing 3 million pounds of raw materials and improving logistics and water conservation, AmeriQuest said. Wal-Mart reduced plastic bag waste by 3.1 billion bags. FedEx is seeking to improve green logistics with better fuel efficiency of its fleet. Sustainability requires more effort, but businesses can reduce carbon footprint. Sustainability initiatives need a top-down approach, and collaboration between the procurement team and suppliers is critical for success. 

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