NZ University of Wellington is part of the Sustainable Procurement Leaders Group © Michael Bradley/Getty Images
NZ University of Wellington is part of the Sustainable Procurement Leaders Group © Michael Bradley/Getty Images

New business partnership aims to 'shift the dial' on value

26 October 2020

A raft of New Zealand organisations have come together for an initiative to make purchasing more sustainable.

Major businesses, local authorities, three New Zealand universities and representatives from national and local government are all working together to accelerate New Zealand’s drive to become a world-leading sustainable and resilient economy.

Fletcher Building, NZ Post, Westpac and AMI are among the organisations taking part in the Sustainable Procurement Leaders Group, convened by the Sustainable Business Network (SBN). They are working alongside the likes of Auckland Transport, AUT University and Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.

The group is meeting quarterly to develop and share best practice, tools and resources, with the aim of making a radical shift in New Zealand’s supply chains, increasing resilience and sustainability.

Holly Norton, SBN senior project and partnership manager, said the programme had specifically targeted large businesses with significant influence over their supplier markets.

“It’s clearer than ever that all New Zealand businesses must take a sustainable approach to their supply chains,” said Norton. “This is the best way to secure the resilience they need in their operations.

“Businesses know they have huge influence. They can reduce their environmental impact through changes in procurement. It's about what they buy, who from and how. Their policies can set high standards on the climate, waste, water and social impacts of the products and materials they buy. And this can often represent huge quantities.”

Norton said it could be tough to find the right suppliers and know what to ask them.

“It’s challenging to monitor changes, measure success and get leadership buy-in,” she added. “Making this the norm means changing the system for everybody.”

Westpac NZ chief financial officer Ian Hankins said businesses needed to be thinking collectively about how to tackle big issues like climate change, and procuring sustainable products and services set a good example.

“Earlier this year we became New Zealand’s first Toitū-certified carbon-zero bank, and we are now working with our suppliers to help them to get a handle on their environmental and social impacts,” he said.

The group’s activities will be followed by a series of progress reports and action plans, and new collaborations are expected as a result.

“We want to broaden and deepen decision making,” said Norton. “We want to shift the dial from making decisions based on short-term costs in dollar terms, to a more holistic view of long-term value for the businesses and for New Zealand. That’s where real success lies in the long run for all of us.”

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