When the procurement process functions with the intent of improving sustainability, it sends a ripple effect throughout business operations. From facility management to product distribution, environmentally-focused initiatives permeate all facets of an organization.
Beyond "going green"
AFFLINK Marketing Director and Environmental Leader contributor Michael Wilson acknowledged that exercising sustainable strategic sourcing surpasses the act of simply obtaining eco-friendly products. Considerations regarding corporate cost reduction, operational efficiency, how companies use internal resources and supplier relations make a considerable impact.
With this concept in mind, it's important to regard sustainable procurement as a multi-layered approach, abiding by the following process.
- Scrutinizing supplier practices
- Finding an efficient way to transport goods from point A to point B
- Surpassing government regulatory standards
- Re-distributing waste to other entities or in-house
- Analyzing production processes to see where energy use can be reduced
Doing business with sustainable entities
The easiest way for business leaders to tackle a multi-faceted approach to sustainability is to contract with enterprises that have the same goals in mind. In addition, surveying companies operating under government entities that make proactive efforts to reduce their environmental impact will help businesses network with other ecologically-conscious organizations.
For example, Business Green noted that The European Commission recently unveiled new proposals that would raise recycling goals and encourage investment in green jobs, such as wind turbine production and installation.
By connecting with a corporation abiding by the EC's standards, procurement specialists will be able to assure their counterparts that Suppliers A, B and C don't need to be audited on a consistent basis. A huge part of sustainable global sourcing consists of relationship building.
Wilson acknowledged the importance of stepping back from materials acquisition and networking. In order for environmental goals to be reached, a culture of sustainability must be incited by:
- Forming a team of specialists representing different facets of the company to develop an eco-friendly strategy
- Setting up a system of communication within the organization that streamlines information sharing
- Creating leadership roles that guide all departments toward the end goal
- Training personnel on how to integrate sustainability into their day-to-day work processes
- Finding ways to resell wasted items to suppliers or other enterprises
These points should translate to the RFP process. The mindset of contracting with partners offering materials at a reasonable price should still persist, but considerations for how those goods are produced must be regarded as well. However, sustainability should never outweigh profitability - operating at a loss isn't going to benefit the environment or an enterprise.