Praise for Olympics' sustainable approach

7 May 2009

8 May 2009 | Jake Kanter

Buyers could "learn a lot" from the sustainable procurement methods of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), according to Shaun McCarthy, chairman of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL).

McCarthy told SM the ODA had been "exemplary" in the way it addressed sustainability throughout the purchasing process and supply chain.

"Every sub-project is expected to report against 12 sustainability objectives each month and that goes all the way to the subcontractors," he said. "It's rigorously enforced and strongly supported."

McCarthy, who is also the director of not-for-profit social enterprise Action Sustainability, said, unlike some buyers, the Olympics team had not neglected the sustainability agenda in an effort to make savings.

"It's sometimes easier for purchasers to throw their hands up in the air and say 'price is king, forget about sustainability standards, I want £40 million off the cost'."

The Olympics' sustainable procurement work was continuing, he said, despite the economic downturn. "We haven't seen standards watered down as a result of the recession but that has sometimes meant taking a hard commercial line with suppliers."

The CSL today launched its annual sustainability review of the entire Olympic programme. It made some recommendations for improvements - the most significant was that buying policies for temporary materials, such as plastics, should be much clearer. The study also said it was important to mitigate the environmental impact of the manufacture, use and disposal of materials.

A separate review by the CSL last year found the ODA was making good progress on targets to introduce sustainable procurement (news, 19 February 2009).

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