How to organize sustainable procurement policies


Key takeaways

  • Organizing sustainable procurement policies starts with clear goal identification, tailored to your business size, and nature.
  • Building an operational system requires careful planning and tracking of key sustainability metrics.
  • Implement the organized system using data management software and maintain it over time with regular evaluations and adjustments.
  • Avoid common pitfalls by adopting a holistic approach and following industry best practices.

About this guide

Understanding sustainable procurement policies is the first step towards a future where businesses thrive without jeopardizing the environment. The concept encapsulates not just what you buy, but how and from where. It incorporates a business strategy that ensures its buying behavior positively impacts the environment, society, and economy. 

Why organize? If haphazardly undertaken, sustainable procurement can become overwhelming as it involves tracking multiple vendors, materials, costs, and environmental impacts. Properly organized policies enable businesses to have a clearer view of their procurement processes and make data-driven decisions that enhance sustainability.

Keep reading to be equipped with effective steps for organizing your sustainable procurement policies smoothly and efficiently.

1. Identify your goals

Goals in organizing sustainable procurement policies can be unique to each business. From contributing to global climate goals to pushing for ethical sourcing and reducing greenhouse emissions, well-established objectives direct the entire process. Depending on the nature and size of your business, these goals can differ, but they all culminate in tangible progress towards sustainability.

2. Plan your organization system 

Your sustainable procurement practices should align with your sustainability goals. To be effective, carefully plan what type of information needs to be tracked in the organization system. This could span vendor sourcing methods, carbon footprint, waste management strategies, and more. 

Having the right data management practices in place is crucial to prevent common mistakes like data duplication and silos, all of which can hamper your green procurement efforts. 

3. Implement your system

Given the complexity of sustainable procurement processes, consider using data management software. These are designed to handle large amounts of data smoothly and provide valuable analytics. This is where Skippet, a project and data management workspace, shines. Armed with AI, it helps you create your unique system for sustainable procurement strategies.

4. Maintain your organization system over time 

The work isn't over with just implementing the system. To ensure the efficiency of your sustainable procurement strategies, your organization system needs proactive maintenance. This involves revising the system's structure periodically and making adjustments where required, based on changes in environmental legislation, vendor capabilities, and internal sustainability goals. 

Best practices and common mistakes 

Even with the best intentions, mistakes can creep into your sustainable procurement process. Awareness of these common errors and best practices can help ameliorate this. For instance, focusing on a single metric for sustainability, overlooking the lifecycle of purchased materials, or failing to consider the secondary effects of procurement activities can be potential pitfalls. The industry best practice suggests a holistic approach that covers every aspect of procurement - from vendor selection to advancements in circular economy policies and adherence to corporate social responsibility in procurement. 

Example of a sustainable procurement policy organization system

Picture a medium-sized manufacturing company aiming to incorporate sustainable procurement policies. Let's journey together to see how they can follow the outlined steps and achieve their sustainability objectives.

The company identifies its key goal: reduce carbon emission from their production line. They aim to do this by shifting to suppliers providing recycled materials or those practicing responsible resource extraction. A secondary goal is to support local businesses and promote a fair-trade supply chain, thus giving a positive socio-economic impact locally. 

Next, the company decides to track information like the carbon footprint of each supplier, the ratio of recycled vs new materials used, and the geographical source of resources. They also take into account the ethical labor and fair trade practices of their suppliers.

The company implements a data management software that can handle the complexity of green procurement practices. This would allow the company to customize their system to meet their unique needs. This includes generating automatic reports on sustainability metrics, flagging suppliers which do not meet requirements, and offering suggestions for greener alternatives.

Maintain your system 

The maintenance of the system will involve ongoing evaluation and updating of supplier scores based on various factors. An annual review of the procurement system is set up, where adjustments are made as per new sustainability legislation, changed business objectives or evolved supplier capabilities.

Wrapping up

Following these steps can transform how businesses handle sustainable procurement. From discerning where to focus their eco-friendly efforts, to planning their sustainable procurement system, implementation, maintenance, as well as being aware of possible missteps is key to drive sustainability efficiently through procurement policies.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it usually take to set up a sustainable procurement policy system?

The time taken can vary widely based on your specific goals and the complexity of your current procurement system. Generally, it can take a few weeks to a few months.

How often should the sustainable procurement system be reviewed and updated?

Ideally, the system should be reviewed annually. However, changes in laws, business objectives or supplier capabilities may necessitate frequent reviews.

Can small businesses also implement sustainable procurement?

Absolutely. Sustainable procurement is scalable and can be adapted for businesses of different sizes. Small businesses can incorporate localized and simpler sustainable practices initially and scale up as they grow.

How does stringent sustainable procurement policies affect supplier relationships?

It encourages suppliers to adopt eco-friendly practices and support sustainability. Clear communication of your sustainable procurement policies can strengthen supplier relationships and foster a culture of sustainability.

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