Sustainability is ''field of dreams'' for buyers

20 November 2009

19 November 2009 | Paul Snell in Boston, USA

Tackling sustainability is a golden opportunity for US buyers to raise their profile, a leading procurement chief has said.

Wayne EvansWayne Evans, senior vice-president of procurement for the Americas at DHL Deutsche Post, told delegates at the Aberdeen Group CPO Summit yesterday that if purchasers take a leadership role on green issues it could revolutionise the profession.

"This is the kind of enabler that can help make procurement a change agent and we have an opportunity to decide whether we want to be a leader or a follower," he said. "To a lot of companies, especially in the US, the path has not yet been decided and procurement has a major opportunity to play that leadership role."

He added that although sustainability efforts had been given lower priority because of the economic crisis, the concept was here to stay.

He appealed to buyers' natural instincts to reinforce his message. "Isn't it lean to go green? By going green we are helping the environment, taking social responsibility and driving cost down."

Although he perceived the US to still be in an "exploration" phase, rather than at the "commitment" stage of European buyers, Evans said this provided greater opportunity for procurement to lead action on the subject.

"Our team is challenged with blazing a trail in the Americas, but I explain to them it is like Field of Dreams - if you build it they will come. This is our field of dreams."

He recommended a three-step methodology to begin a sustainable procurement process: implement a green selection process; manage suppliers to a green standard; and work on demand management.

But Evans also issued a warning not to go green just for the sake of it. "What have to be careful that everything we do has a business case, and sustainability comes along with it - it's not the driver. Procurement will be in the back office not the front office unless we have a business case."

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