Big spending US companies sign up to pilot sustainable purchasing scheme

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
12 March 2015

A total of 80 US companies with more than $100 billion of purchasing power have signed up to a pilot to test a new sustainable purchasing programme.

The scheme, organised by the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC), involves using detailed guidance to analyse and plan procurement decisions. Lockheed Martin, Office Depot and Asia Pulp and Paper are among those taking part.

Once the guidance has been tested it will become the basis of a rating scheme in 2016 that will “evaluate how well organisations are taking responsibility for their supply chain’s environmental, social and economic performance”. SPLC is based in the US but it intends its guidance to be applicable globally.

Jason Pearson, executive director at SPLC, said: “Organisations in a wide variety of sectors and regions can use this guidance to understand the environmental, social and economic life cycle impacts of their purchased goods and services, prioritise actions that best address these impacts, and benchmark progress toward performance goals.

“This guidance is a voluntary programme that will serve as the basis for a future rating system that rewards organisations who demonstrate leadership in sustainable purchasing.”

In a webinar launching the guidance SPLC said four steps were required for a sustainable purchasing programme, and these were:

1.    High-level commitment
2.    Commitment of resources
3.    Prioritisation of resources
4.    A continuous improvement process

To get a programme off the ground it was necessary for a “champion” to be selected, who would produce a vision statement, get support from key stakeholders, produce a plan and take this to management.

Such programmes involve moving away from a “product by product, contract by contract” approach to purchasing and “analysing spend to prioritise spend having the greatest opportunity to improve environmental and economic performance”.

Christina Macken, director of programs at SPLC, said: “The first step is not to buy things. Buy less and then buy better to ultimately reduce impact.”

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