Looking back: Creating a sustainable supply chain for Australia’s largest sporting event this decade

In April 2018 the Gold Coast hosted the Commonwealth Games (GC2018), the largest sporting event that Australia will see this decade. With over 6,600 athletes and team officials from 71 nations, the 11-day cultural event took years of planning.

Providing the goods and services to support such an event is no small task. Trying to ensure that those goods and services are consistent with the sustainability strategy of the Games is even more complex. And it’s not just the size of the event that makes this procurement complex. Other considerations were:

  • Short term relationships with suppliers – Unlike most businesses that have ongoing relationships with suppliers, most GC2018 suppliers provided goods and services on a one-off occasion or over a very short time period.
  • Diverse supply chain – Procurement ranged from security services to food and beverage supply and from specialist sporting equipment to GC2018 merchandise.

Edge worked with the GC2018 as they implemented sustainability in the procurement processes. The work had four key steps:

  1. With such a large procurement spend and a short timeline to work with suppliers it was important to prioritise efforts to ensure maximum impact. Edge undertook an environmental and social risk screening using our Life Cycle Assessment tools to help focus efforts. The screening shows the biggest environmental impacts per $ spent and per total spend across all major environmental impacts (from GHG emissions, through to water use) and for major social risks (such as labour rights and health and safety). For GC2018 we were able to determine that 80% of their impacts sat within 25 procurement categories.
  2. We then screened the high impact categories according to their importance for GC2018 stakeholders and as well the organization’s control or influence to reduce the impact.
  3. Alongside the risk screening we assessed procurement governance, processes and policies against the ISO20400 standard. More about the approach to sustainable procurement is detailed in GC2018’s Pre-Games Sustainability Report.
  4. Following this analysis we provided support to address the impacts and process gaps. This support took many forms but three key sets of documents underpinned the approach:
  • Sourcing Code – set minimum requirements for all goods or services supplied to GOLDOC
  • Sustainability Category Management Plans (SCMPs)- for particularly high risk or opportunity procurements, SCMPs were developed with additional specifications to the Sourcing Code’s requirements.
  • Materials and Packaging Guidelines – specific guidance on acceptable materials and packaging permitted to enter GC2018 Venues.

Leaving a positive legacy is an integral part of the Commonwealth Games mission and as part of that commitment a lot of their sustainability documentation is publicly available here.

What did we learn through working with GC2018?

  • Good data and analysis is critical – in order to have meaningful conversations with suppliers you have to be able to tell them why you are focused on their supply and exactly what impacts you are interested in. This includes where the impacts sit within the suppliers organisation (for example, they may be within raw materials that are bought by the supplier or they may be within the production processes themselves).
  • Minimum standards are not enough – targeted SCMPs were essential to improving environmental and social impact. Requirements needed to be carefully tailored to the procurement category, they needed to be specific and, to the extent possible, they needed to be quantified.



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