The 5 factors driving sustainability in procurement

A sustainable supply chain is key to sustainable procurementFor most of our clients, more than 80% of their impact is in their supply chain. In the past, addressing this impact seemed difficult due to the complexity of global supply chains. These days, there are improved analysis tools, frameworks and rating schemes to simplify the procurement process.

Here are 5 key drivers that are making sustainability in procurement a lot simpler:

  1. Improved Analytic Tools.
    As with any area of sustainability (or any problem-solving system!), an important early step is to find out where the issues lie. “Heat maps” for sustainability impacts can now be generated through a number of tools, the best of which are based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies. Why? Because LCA is the only method that allows you to see the various environmental impacts across the full life cycle of the product, ensuring, for example, that reduced impacts during the manufacturing stage are not outweighed by increased impacts during the transportation or end-of-life phases. Edge has a unique toolset in the EXIOBASE for environmental and socio-economic modelling, and the Social Hotspot Database for social risk assessment, both of which have the breadth and depth to handle the complexity of global supply chains.
  2. Development of ISO20400.
    The British Standard 8903 was developed out of the London Olympics and it was the first sustainable procurement framework. It is currently being converted to an ISO standard and its development has included extensive stakeholder engagement. The revised standard will provide a common framework and language for sustainable procurement and is due to be delivered in 2017. The revisions include improved guidance around social sustainability and human rights.
  3. Reinvigorated Supply Chain School.
    The Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School was launched in 2015, and has a renewed sense of momentum this year under the leadership of CEO Robin Mellon (former Green Building Council of Australia‘s COO). Read more about the Supply Chain School here.
  4. Market Penetration of the IS Tool.
    The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s IS Tool was launched in 2012 but because infrastructure projects have such a long lead time, we are only really beginning to see a significant impact in the past year or two. Contractors now expect IS Ratings to be stipulated in infrastructure contracts and are adjusting their internal processes accordingly. The sustainable procurement credits in particular are well suited to being driven by the central organisation, rather than being developed project by project. While this tool is only relevant to infrastructure projects, the Federal Government has committed to a massive $50 billion in infrastructure spending over the next seven years. The release of Version 1.2 of the IS Tool is likely to further progress in this sector.
  5. New Developments in Product Labeling.
    The launch of new product labeling schemes in Australia is an important tool for procurement practitioners, making it easier to distinguish between the sustainability performance of similar products. Labels such as Environmental Product Declarations are also being recognised through Green Star (Sustainable Products credit), the updated version of the IS Tool (Materials credit) and the soon-to-be launched Transport for NSW Sustainable Design Guidelines Version 4.0.

Ultimately these tools and frameworks need to be used to support supplier engagement to achieve real outcomes. Edge is excited to be part of this drive for sustainability in procurement. We are currently working with organisations across the telecom, events, government, food, infrastructure and building sectors. We are also contributing our expertise to the UNEP’s 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

If you are interested in learning more about sustainable procurement and how it is relevant to you, please contact Jacqui ( or 9438 0100).

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