Sustainable procurement is a purchasing and investment process that takes into account the economic, environmental and social impacts of the entity's spending. It involves organisations taking onus of the environmental impacts of their supply chains and putting into practice systems to reduce that impact where possible. This may include:

  1. Choosing to purchase from suppliers with transparent practices,
  2. Putting pressure on suppliers to change their practices or
  3. Asking suppliers for information around their practices

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The importance of sustainable procurement

Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the environmental impacts of their purchases. With that, they are more likely to scrutinize a product before supporting a company. This calls for businesses to be transparent in their practices and reduce green washing where they can. Sustainable Procurement is a mechanism for businesses to control the impact their product or service has over the entire supply chain.


Steps for putting sustainable procurement into practice

  1. Identify all consumables and commodities
  2. List those that have an environmental effect that could be reduced
  3. Identify the costs of alternatives and the impact each will have
  4. Make a prioritized list based on largest positive environmental impact for lowest cost
  5. Apply a sustainable procurement strategy to those key priorities
  6. Track success and positive impact to report back to stakeholders

For further help, follow this guide to Identifying Sustainable Procurement Priorities

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Buying recycled

Sending paper, card, plastics and other material to recycling is a new beginning, not the end of the story, even though it may feel as casual as throwing waste 'away' to landfill! The recycling process may up-cycle materials, to make them more valuable or gradually down-cycle them - such as turning high grade paper to low grade paper or card, which may last for five or more 'cycles' before its only good for compost.

If you send items away to be recycled, you should be prepared to buy products made from recycled materials. That way you are supporting the system, rather than just contributing at the beginning of it.


Buying sustainable

By researching brands and their policies around sustainability you can make informed decisions when you buy. Many products available these days are made from sustainable materials or byproducts from other manufacturing processes. For example With Small products are made from bamboo, and bagasse, a sugarcane waste product. In many ways this is better than buying products made from recycled materials as it uses resources that would otherwise be discarded.

Supporting companies that have transparent and thorough environmental policies shows it is valuable and important to you and your company; this in turn puts pressure on others to compete for the conscious consumer.