Sustainable procurement investment 'critical', say top European buyers

18 August 2009

19 August 2009 | Allie Anderson

Sustainable procurement is considered "important" or "critical" by 90 per cent of buyers, according to a survey published yesterday.

Over 80 per cent of procurement directors invested in sustainable purchasing initiatives in 2008, with 35 per cent reporting they intend to spend more on such programmes, despite the global recession.

The Sustainable Procurement Benchmark Report, released by education body HEC Paris and sustainable procurement experts EcoVadis, questioned procurement executives at 95 of Europe's largest companies about their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability practices.

It found that, while managing costs remains a major priority for introducing sustainable buying programmes, adhering to regulations on environmental practices is becoming more important. Brand protection was also noted as a key driver.

Three quarters of the companies consider CSR when going to market, with almost a third - 30 per cent - using it as a main criterion in the grading and selection process. Some 75 per cent of the respondents also use sustainable procurement as a measure of long-term supplier performance.

HEC professor Olivier Bruel, principal author of the report, said: "Sustainable procurement is an integral part of the new model that companies must adopt to survive and thrive in today's global economy.

"Our research clearly shows that the economic dimension of sustainability - total cost of ownership reduction as well as supporting suppliers in dire financial situations - is a critical focus for companies as they attempt to weather the financial storm while continuing to run their businesses in a socially and environmentally friendly manner."

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