Starbucks director: Buyers at centre of green drive

5 November 2010
5 November 2010 | Lindsay Clark

Purchasers can become the “go-to” people for solving environmental problems in their businesses because of their broad visibility of the supply base.

Nils Clement, Starbucks procurement director, EMEA, told SM networking between buyers can also help share innovative ideas to tackle sustainability issues.

Since procurement does the contracting for waste management and energy buying, for example, the function could draw on a wide range of suppliers with in-depth knowledge of solving environmental problems.

“We are developing more as subject matter experts. I don’t think as a retail organisation we would have all the knowledge in hand, but there is a large supply base out there,” said Clement, who spoke at the Procurecon 2010 conference in Brussels earlier this week.

As such, buyers could help businesses develop and act on green strategies in their companies, he said. “Procurement drives a significant part of that because we have visibility of the innovations that are going on in that area and that’s more than just the latest packaging – it’s the whole chain, including how we dispose of our waste. Procurement adds value because we know what’s going on in that world. It’s a whole new piece that was not considered to be under procurement’s remit.”

Starbucks runs a global sustainability initiative called Shared Planet and Clement said procurement would take an increasing role in this project in the future. “It’s more than what we do in our own systems, it’s how we help our vendors to get to the point where they understand the [environmental] impact they have.”

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