Green procurement 'critical to staying in business'

21 March 2013

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21 March 2013 | Anna Reynolds

With commodity prices increasing, practising sustainable procurement is necessary to remain competitive, buyers have been told.

Speaking at the Mayor of London’s Green Procurement Code annual event yesterday, Tim Taylor, sustainability manager UK & Ireland at printer manufacturer Ricoh, said "sustainable procurement is critical to staying in business".

He added the profit margins from green procurement are “huge” but the UK needs to educate suppliers. “We have to work with our suppliers to look at how we can improve the longevity of a certain part,” he said. Ricoh has a ‘Green Centre’ where all packaging materials and parts are returned to the UK to be recycled.

Samantha Dunn, principal consultant at LRS Consultancy, which launched the code in 2001 to help organisations adopt sustainable procurement practices, explained business models are changing and now there is more of a business case for sustainable procurement.

Sam Clark, business sustainability manager at law firm Clifford Chance - which hosted the event - said in his experience suppliers bring in passion and by getting the relationship right from the beginning, particularly with long-term vendors, the company has benefited from their knowledge and innovation. Clark referred to one of the company’s key suppliers Cofely GDF Suez, which has put LED and PIR lighting schemes throughout the building and implemented a more efficient way of generating power. Clark said that in a large law firm this has had a significant impact on cost savings.

Another member of the code, construction firm Willmott Dixon, implemented a sustainable procurement policy last summer. Steve Cook, principal sustainable development manager, said the company spends 80 per cent of its turnover on goods, works and services and he believes that the landfill tax escalator has been a big drive in the construction industry for waste diversion.

Dunn stressed the need to set targets for suppliers and understand where the risk lies in a company’s supply chain. “It is also important to recognise the achievements suppliers make,” she added.

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