A new era for sustainable procurement

19 July 2010
This year will see a number of milestone events related to sustainable procurement, representing a new era for a subject that was virtually unknown five years ago to one that is well known, but not necessarily well defined or practised. The world’s first formal standard to describe overall sustainable procurement practice will be published this summer. I hope the BS 8903 will be adopted as an ISO standard in future in a similar way to how the quality assurance world adopted BS 5750 to become the ISO 9001 global benchmark. A book on the subject will rapidly follow from BSI publications, as will guidance for the construction industry from CIRIA. All this means that sustainable procurement is coming of age. Five years have passed since the publication of the government’s sustainable development strategy Securing the Future, which contained the blindingly obvious conclusion that government may be able to influence markets with an annual spend in excess of £175 billion. Procuring the Future, published a year later, gave us the flexible framework devised to summarise advice from major businesses on how the public sector may set about this task. The flexible framework was designed as a strategic guide to the enablers necessary to deliver sustainable procurement. It does not tell you how to do it. BS 8903 and the CIRIA guidance will help to fill that gap. I look forward to the new era as one where procurement professionals are genuinely taking the lead in developing more sustainable value chains and introducing fresh and more sustainable solutions to their organisations. Through these blogs I will attempt to provide a commentary on this exciting new era.
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