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Sustainable Procurement Strategy – Don’t Turn Left!

With the birth of a brand new and globally recognised standard ISO 20400:2017 (Sustainable Procurement) this is an exciting change and a real opportunity for organisations to showcase their commitment to sustainable sourcing. Not only that, but it will be a great tool moving forward for companies evaluating their supplier base to ensure they share the same values and commitment as they do. Balfour Beatty is leading the way as the first company globally to meet the ISO standard.

Whilst right now it may be a ‘nice to have’ for many organisations, these expectations will become increasingly the norm as companies and government bodies continue to commit to sustainability and working with preferred suppliers that equally match their own commitments. Sustainable Procurement is generally considered to take in to account not only the needs of the business and value for money but also extends to consider factors such as the economic, environmental and social impact.

Of course there are many organisations which have made huge strides to improve their procurement process by collaborating with other internal teams and suppliers to meet their goals. The University of Manchester has gone a step further and developed an online tool which is available to their suppliers to assess and encourage them to improve their own sustainable practices.

Many oil companies have invested in local economies, building transportation network, schools and providing jobs to help develop the local economy. Shell is working with its existing suppliers to implement the Shell Supplier Principles; seeking to work with suppliers who contribute to sustainable development and are economically, environmentally and socially responsible. They have to commit to standards of Business Integrity, Health, Safety, Security and Environment, Social Performance & Labour and Human Rights.

Sustainable Procurement is also about driving efficiencies through the entire supply chain and life cycle. A great example is UPS drivers who follow a policy of never turning through oncoming traffic (i.e. left in countries where they drive on the right and vice versa) unless absolutely necessary. This might seem bizarre at initial glace as journeys will often be longer in distance. This is part of a wider review to optimise the journey and by avoiding turning through oncoming traffic this reduces the chances of being involved in an accident but also cuts delays by having to wait for gaps in traffic, which is equally wasting fuel. Their routing software is designed to eliminate as many left-hand turns as possible (for countries with right hand traffic). Benefits include; using 10m gallons less fuel, reducing carbon emissions by 20,000 tonnes and has resulted in the delivery of 350,000 more packages per annum whilst cutting the number of vehicles by 1,100 and reducing distance travelled by 28.5 miles.

The benefits of sustainable sourcing are huge and can help to save money, reduce waste, improve competitiveness and build a business’ reputation.

By Philip While – Business Leader