Supply chain sustainability: 5 ways to exert your influence

There are strong business benefits to be gained by understanding and managing the sustainability issues that are significant in an organisation or industry’s supply chain. Traditional procurement practices focus on price, product quality and on-time delivery – criteria that impact directly on the bottom line. However, through its various supply chain practices, an organisation can positively or negatively affect the local economy, the environment and people – via its labour practices, level of product responsibility and policies regarding human rights and society in general.

Some of the advantages of embedding sustainability considerations into procurement processes include:

  • Reducing risks (reputation, legal, environment, safety, continuity of supply, traceability and quality)
  • Achieving operational efficiencies and cost savings
  • Building mutually beneficial supply chain relationships
  • Demonstrating corporate social responsibility
  • Achieving and retaining certification to  ISO14001:2015; ISO9001:2015 and ISO45001

The standard for Environmental Management Systems, ISO14001:2015, requires organisations to “determine environmental requirement(s) for the procurement of products and services and communicate these to external providers, including contractors”.

While the potential advantages are many, the integration of sustainability principles into procurement processes may prove to be complex and challenging in practice, particularly when there is resistance to change.

Summarised below are the 5 main ways that you and your organisation can exert a powerful influence on the supply chain in order to add value to the business and better meet stakeholder expectations.

1  Securing commitment from all levels of the organisation

  • Preparing a business case
  • Conducting senior management workshops
  • Articulating a vision and long term goals
  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Building internal support for the program

2  Getting agreement about the sustainability impacts that are relevant and important

  • Creating a process for determining the “materiality” or significance of each aspect
  • Identifying key suppliers and other external internal interested parties
  • Conducting stakeholder engagement
  • Mapping issues important to stakeholders against business considerations

3  Identifying any significant issues that lie further up or down-stream

  • Considering the full life-cycle of a product system
  • Identifying and adjusting the organisation’s procurement practices
  • Phasing out unsustainable products
  • Working with suppliers to resolve issues

4  Effectively communicating expectations and requirements

  • Creating a Code of Conduct
  • Communicating the company’s expectations to suppliers
  • Supplier’s self-assessment
  • Monitoring the supplier’s performance
  • Conducting supplier and contractor evaluations

5  Supporting people in procurement roles

  • Developing policies to guide people in making better decisions.
  • Creating assessment checklists for new or changed processes, materials and products
  • Screening of suppliers and factories
  • Searching for the most sustainable products

The Enviroease team has substantial practical experience in buying/procurement, facilitation, impact assessment, Life Cycle Assessment and management systems. Whether the need is for senior management workshops, stakeholder engagement, supplier audits or the development of improved policies and practices, we’d be happy to assist you.

Feel free to call me, Suzy, on 0418862899 to discuss your particular needs.

Further reading:

The world’s most widely endorsed principles on corporate and social responsibility,  the UN Global Compact puts forth ten principles for business in three areas – labour standards, environment and anti-corruption – in support of the Agenda 21 goals for Ecologically Sustainable Development.

The Global Reporting Initiative‘s (GRI) “G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines”  includes “procurement practices” as a specific standard disclosure – G4-EC9. GRI is the most used framework for sustainability reporting with over 25,000 GRI reports in the database from 90 countries and many more organisations using the indicators to help them set goals, measure performance and manage change in order to make their operations more sustainable.

 

 

 

Which office paper is the most sustainable?

With logging of old growth forests still a contentious issue in Australia and rainforest destruction continuing across the globe, companies and individuals need to think carefully about how to exercise their purchasing power if they desire a sustainable pulp and paper industry.

Now that technology has enabled the electronic storage of documents, environment and sustainability policies should focus on elimination of paper as the number one priority with a long term goal of the “paperless office”.  Such a transition presents a win-win for the environment and the economy due to the productivity gains of reducing office clutter together with easy retrieval and safe storage of records.  In the short term companies can reduce the consumption of paper with double sided printing as the norm, carefully implemented so that people don’t make mistakes and re-print.

The big question is that when its necessary to buy paper, which one is the most sustainable?  In an effort to help decision makers make sense of the many eco-labels that appear on reams of office paper, the Buying Better Project at the Total Environment Centre in Sydney released a useful policy on Printer Paper dated December 5, 2012.

They don’t endorse any particular product but suggest that the most important buying criteria are in the following order:

  1. Recycled content with 100% ideal and verification against ISO14021 desirable.
  2. A label from  a recognised sustainable forest management certification body such as the Forest Stewardship Council( FSC) or PEFC.
  3. Carbon neutral or carbon reduced,  if it is verified by a recognised 3rd party such as National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).

The Buying Better Project guidance is the result of a simplified life cycle assessment (LCA) process which determined the most significant (material) stages in the lifecycle of office paper to be raw material (extracts and processes) and  manufacturing. Download the guide at: http://www.greencapital.org.au/projects/buying-better.html