The Importance of Green Purchasing
Environmental sustainability can be easy. This guide will give you the tools to easily transition your purchasing processes to be more sustainable. According to a recent study by Mckinsey, “Ninety percent of Chief Procurement Officers (CPO) told them they had difficulty identifying the right actions to move the needle on Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) topics, and almost three-quarters didn’t know what ESG targets to set.”
The first step is understanding the starting points and implementing a Green Purchasing Policy (GPP). GPPs are put in place to guide businesses when acquiring materials, supplies, services and selecting products based on their impact on the environment and human health. Having a GPP in place also improves operational efficiency as it provides your team with clear guidance on which green products to look for across all areas of your business.
Green Purchasing or Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) is the practice of choosing environmentally-friendly products and services. It helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cuts waste, protects natural resources and conserves energy. It can also improve a business’s bottom line by cutting organizational life-cycle costs and providing positive PR. The foundation is simple – when you consider buying, evaluate the adverse environmental impacts associated with the product.
Steps to Green Purchasing Procedures
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Having specific procedures in place is critical for your sustainability roadmap and, in turn, your success metrics. Some may include:
- protection practices
- a sustainable operations strategy
- clean energy standards
- sustainable transportation practices
- recycling and waste management plan
- environmentally preferable procurement.
Specifically, when working with vendors, include a clause in the bidding specifications for them to offer recycled content or environmentally sustainable alternatives.
5 Easy Transformational Initiatives to Optimize Resource Consumption
1. Strive to purchase materials that are:
- Durable, as opposed to single-use or disposable
- Non-toxic or minimally toxic, preferably biodegradable
- Highly energy efficient
- Made from raw materials and preferably sourced locally from credible and certified businesses
- The cause of minimal or no environmental damage during regular use or maintenance
- Shipped with minimal packaging (consistent with the care of the product), preferably made of recycled and/or recyclable materials.
- Certified eco-friendly
2. Use a filtration system within your offices and facilities to use city water instead of plastic bottles. This will reduce emissions and improve landfill space.
3. Purchase copy paper with at least 30% recycled content. Also, move to a last resort printing model for e-mails, reports and other items.
4. When remodeling, use low or no volatile organic compound (VOC) paint. The paint won’t give off as much of that harmful gas as traditional paint. Also, try using recycled cubicles and carbon neutral flooring when possible.
5. Purchase apparel for your staff that is produced using sustainable practices such as, using recycled fibers or sustainably grown fibers. If possible, use materials that are produced using water-based screen-printing inks and sustainable embroidery thread.
Measuring Your Green Purchasing Success
Measurement allows you to take regular inventory of your progress towards achieving your goals. An effective evaluation system:
- Helps define sustainability within your data center,
- Highlight’s what is working,
- Identifies areas for improvement, and
- Created accountability for staff.
As far as reporting, start by assessing your reporting capabilities. Can you easily collect useful data from purchasing reports? Do you have specified procedures in place for your employees to start tracking the data and initial KPIs? Some indicators include tracking the percentage of bids that include sustainability, number of supplier audits, or number of staff trained in sustainable procurement.
You can also leverage third-party assessments that collect and assess sustainability data from recognized sources. They can validate and compare supplier claims, provide recommendations for improvements and identify more sustainable suppliers. Moreover, track KPIs in areas such as supply chain waste, energy use, load density and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Lastly, audit and change your KPIs regularly.
It takes the initiative from top to bottom of the entire company to make sustainability practices successful. Getting started without a clear path to success won’t get you very far. Purchasing leaders who take bold action can make a decisive difference in sustainability.
The best part? You don’t have to do it alone. If you need help getting your sustainability roadmap in place for your data center operations, contact us.