Embed sustainability targets early, buyers urged

21 March 2013

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21 March 2013 | Anna Reynolds

Businesses need to ask early on whether their suppliers have targets in place to reduce their waste for sustainable procurement to be effective, according to Balfour Beatty WorkPlace.

Candice Guerreiro, sustainability advisor at the facilities management firm said companies need to know what they want from suppliers and must ask core sustainability questions from the start.

Balfour Beatty has designed a ‘road map’ setting out sustainable policies and business practices. Guerreiro told attendees at the Mayor of London’s Green Procurement Code annual event: “We want our supply chain to carry out assessments against our road map to ensure key suppliers have improvement plans in place.” She added facilities management is a competitive market and suppliers need to select materials that can be recycled.

Guerreiro said the company is working with one supplier who has designed paint that uses plant-based solvents: “Suppliers that are the biggest risk to our sustainability agenda are those we spend a lot of money with and do not follow the road map principles.”

By 2014, Balfour Beatty hopes sustainable procurement will be seen as a business advantage and for it to be recognised by 2015 in everyday procurement decisions.

Also speaking at the event was Leigh Mapledoram, programme area manager at waste prevention organisation WRAP, who said: “Procurement is one of the mechanisms to drive waste production and by considering the whole-life cost such as product durability and reusability, not just the purchase price, financial savings can be made.”

According to research by WRAP, UK businesses need to focus waste reduction efforts on the procurement of food and furniture. These are the two categories that produce the largest amount of waste, with each tonne of food waste costing £1,800.

Sam Clark, business sustainability manager at Clifford Chance, pointed to the law firm’s contracts with catering firm Restaurant Associates, which has introduced compostable containers, on-site bottled water and more efficient cooking. All initiatives have helped the business minimise waste. The firm’s biggest challenge at the moment is to reduce its paper use.

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