How to achieve sustainable procurement

Blogs 12 May 2023

Discover how sustainable purchasing and ethically sourced products in your supply chain can help your business on your net zero journey.

Sustainable procurement allows you to unlock the financial, operational, and reputational benefits of developing and working with sustainable supply chains. 

What is a sustainable product? 

A sustainable product avoids the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. When purchasing for sustainability you must consider that all products, supplies, and contracts may pose sustainability issues. The sustainability impacts of the following areas must be considered: buying products, purchasing decisions, and your supply chain.  

Sustainable products should use fewer natural resources, contain fewer hazardous materials, have a longer lifespan, consume less energy or water in production or use, be able to be reused or recycled upon disposal and lastly, generate less waste upon the end of their lifespan.  Sustainable purchasing is not just about the proxy of purchasing ‘green products’; it is about minimising negative socio-economic effects of a business’s purchasing decision. A sustainable product avoids the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance.

What are the benefits of purchasing sustainably? 

Allowing for your business to operate sustainably is incredibly important as in this decade, this is becoming increasingly significant as a standard of success. Noncompliance with national and international legislation can be damaging to a company, but the opportunity for environmental sustainability is incredibly appealing. There is also a reduced risk of non-compliance with environmental legislation – this is incredibly beneficial for a business as non-compliance can be very costly, particularly to SMEs, and therefore staying away from those and improving your environmental considerations through sustainable purchasing.

As a business, making sustainable purchasing decisions gives you the ability to minimise the indirect, negative impacts of your organisation, its operations, and the services you deliver on the environment. Because of this – you can maximise your positive impacts on the environment through sustainable purchasing and working with sustainable supply chains.

Lastly, by purchasing for sustainability, employee and customer loyalty increases because buyers and organisations are becoming increasingly environmentally aware. This highlights the incredible opportunities that sustainable procurement can bring to your company. The benefits of sustainable procurement and purchasing can include the reduction of energy, waste, and travel costs – which reduces a business’s operational costs and increases profitability.

All businesses, no matter how small or large, need to purchase goods no matter what and we need to use our influence in a positive manner.

What should your business consider? 

All businesses, no matter how small or large, need to purchase goods no matter what and we need to use our influence in a positive manner.  

Here are a few aspects to think about when it comes to purchasing sustainably. 

Ethically sourced and traded products are key in sustainable purchasing. Ethical sourcing ensures that minimum labour standards are met during the production of the product you are purchasing. However, Fair Trade simply refers to the ethical trading process. An example would be for a business that buys in paper to print on to consider buying in evercopy premium 100% recycled paper. This has the blue angel mark, EU Ecolabel, and forestry stewardship council to support reforestation. A-rated office equipment is better for energy usage and is more compliant with energy legislation. 

The Blue Angel, Ecolabel and FSC Logos

Purchasing goods from local suppliers is incredibly beneficial as local jobs and services are supported through sustainable purchasing, which is not only beneficial for your company but also beneficial for your local economy. 

When consideration is given to utilising the community and voluntary sectors, goods are more deliverable and sustainable on social factors, such as skill development within the local community. 

Local job creation and developing community skills as mentioned previously will further show social sustainability and improve your profile as a sustainable company. 

Next steps 

The delivery of a service that comes from sustainable purchasing allows a business to better influence, but not control, the sustainability impacts that may arise when delivering services. It is beneficial environmentally, socially, and economically on local and even international levels. 

Implementing sustainability measures with those you contract with further reduces any non-compliance risks and boosts your profile as a business. As a business, sustainable purchasing further drives competitive advantage form the societal, environmental, and economic impact of their operations. By ticking every box, you can see a huge benefit from streamlining your purchasing towards a more sustainable route. 

Small business sustainability hub

The race to a net zero economy by 2050 has begun. We’re making sure small businesses aren’t left out of the big picture. Visit our sustainability hub today to explore free resources.

Find out more