Sustainable procurement to future-proof your business – tips for sustainable sourcing, procurement & purchasing

Sustainable Procurement Tips

How to shrink the ecological footprint of your company through a conscious purchase policy?

Sustainable, eco-friendly and biological are amongst the most popular words in our society today. Consumers are looking for, and in some cases even demanding, products that have been produced in a manner that is environment friendly. So they do with the way you do your procurement and whether it’s sustainable.

Ever more often, companies don’t really have a choice: they need to find a way to make their brand more sustainable, or they will start losing customers to competitors who do. Perhaps you’re responsible for the procurement of your company, and wondering whether you can make a contribution to this change. We’re here to tell you: yes you can!

It all comes down to being aware of the impact that your choices have, and what alternatives are out there. We’ll discuss a few below, but we also urge you to share any other sustainable procurement ideas you might have in the comments. In that way, we hope that readers of this article will inspire each other to follow a purchase policy that is more conscious and has less impact on the environment.

Sustainable procurement tip 1: Choose local

Whenever possible, try and buy your products from local companies. A big part of the current pollution is being causedby transportation. So it speaks for itself that it would be a big win when we could eliminate a great deal of unnecessary cargo trips.

Think about it: if you buy your materials from a company halfway around the world, it needs to be shipped to you. They need to be transported by airplane or ship, while a local supplier might need only drive a couple of minutes. Or, when the produce allows it, could get them at your company by bike.

But even if the company is not in the same city, finding an alternative supplier where aviation or sea-transport can be left out of the equation, almost always results in a better CO2 result below the line.

Eco footprint - reduce it with sustainable procurement

Sustainability tip 2: Choose less or smaller

This is building on the previous tip, but we felt it was important enough to highlight for its own sake. You don’t always need to go large or, to satisfy your needs. Sometimes you can try to buy less or smaller.

For example, the online company recently started their own herb garden, to control how they grow their own products.

Sustainable purchasing tip 3: Choose Second Hand

Not buying something might be the most sustainable choice, but this is mainly because that means it doesn’t have to be produced in the first place. The same holds true when you buy second hand items: the production – and therefore the pollution – has already happened.

For the items that allow this, try to find a second hand alternative before you decide to purchase new. There are dozens of websites where you can buy used office furniture or AV equipment, that another company didn’t need anymore. Either because they bought new stuff themselves (shame on them, right?), had to cut out a department or perhaps even went bankrupt.

Whatever the reason: what they couldn’t use anymore might be perfect for your company. And as a possible benefit: you can often find a great deal this way, which your superior will surely appreciate.

Sustainable procurement tip 4: Cooperate and communicate

In my experience, many big companies don’t have a good grasp on what exactly is in stock. This might lead to a situation where one department is buying a shipment of new standing desks, while somewhere else in the building unused desks are gathering dust in the attic.

The same might be said about smaller companies of which there are a lot, operating in the same field but with a geographical boundary that doesn’t make them competitors of each other. For example, when you’re looking to buy a new table for a massage parlor, you might want to reach out to other studios in cities outside of your area. If they have a table to spare, you might be able to help each other – and the environment – out.

Sustainable procurement tip 5: Compensate

Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid purchasing something new. And you don’t always have the luxury of having a good local supplier that can help you out with what you need.

But even in that case, there is a way to make a difference. You could compensate the CO2 emission of your purchase. Use an app like TreeClicks, and every online purchase you make will contribute to new trees being planted. This compensates (part of) the emission that went into making the product you just bought.

Good luck with your sustainable procurement policy!