03 October 2002 | Robin Parker
The Environment Agency is to scrutinise green procurement practices among the companies that provide nearly three-quarters of its annual supplies.
Its top 20 suppliers have already attended workshops and completed action plans to improve their ability to purchase along environmentally friendly lines, according to the agency's annual report.
Another five firms, including Centrica and Cable & Wireless, which account for £50 million of the agency's annual £360 million budget, will join the programme in the next year.
When all 25 firms are on board, around 70 per cent of the agency's procurement will be subject to this scrutiny.
Firms already committed to the scheme include IT supplier Compaq, which plans to identify and increase the recycled components of its products and packaging within the next year.
Construction firm Alfred McAlpine has pledged to deliver a formal supplier audit programme to encompass environmental aspects in its five-year contract for flood barriers.
Chris Browne, the Environment Agency's procurement strategy manager, said the scheme aims to identify both the environmental and commercial drive of its suppliers.
"We have to be a committed buyer of environmentally friendly goods and want to encourage rather than mandate to those suppliers starting out on this path," he said.
"If suppliers are doing well environmentally, we simply get more demanding about where to check their supply chains."
The Environment Agency, which is in the running for a Kelly's CIPS Award for ethical purchasing next month, also aims to finish benchmarking its top 500 suppliers on environmental, social and ethical grounds by the end of November.