This guest post comes from Kim Teichroeb. Kim is a senior Procurement professional with special expertise and interest in sustainable sourcing processes.
Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle are no longer buzz-words, they are a part of life for most people. In most municipalities, consumers have access to recycling facilities helping divert waste from landfill. In recent years, many organizations have initiated office-recycling projects to help their employees bring good habits from home into the office. Now it is time for organizations to go deeper and start looking for ways to lessen the environmental impact of the products they produce and sell from the beginning. The following are 5 ways to start building sustainability into the strategic sourcing process.
1. Start small.
What can you do immediately to make a positive impact? One of the easiest places to start is office supplies. Take a look at the office supplies that the organization is currently using. Make changes to the available catalogue to mandate the use of products made with post-consumer material. Most office supply providers have a range of products that are constructed from post-consumer waste, work with your supplier to find what will work for your organization. Ensure that there are sufficient blue boxes for recycling at each desk and in common areas around the copy machines and in the lunchroom.
2. Start internally.
Take a close look at what your organization is currently doing with respect to supporting sustainable products. Are you using green cleaning products? If you use a janitorial service, mandate that they use earth-friendly cleaning chemicals. Many of the large chemical suppliers offer green options. Work with your janitorial service provider to assist them in finding suitable products. If your organization produces consumer products, take a look at packaging. Are all components recyclable? If not, can changes be made to improve recyclability without negatively impacting the final product? Sometimes a small change at the production level can make a huge difference in the end of life recyclability.
3. Look at vendors as partners in sustainability.
Take a close look at all your major vendors and supplier partners. Tour their facilities, if possible. Let them know that sustainability is important to your organization. Ask about recycling options for their products’ end of life. Work with them on making packaging changes where possible. Sustainable sourcing does not need to mean higher product costs. It does mean asking vendors to be creative, to look at other ways of manufacturing or packaging their products.
4. Involve employees.
Employees are a great source of ideas. They often see ways of eliminating or reducing waste that are relatively easy to implement. Empower employees to bring ideas forward. Build a “green-team” in your organization made up of representation from all levels of employees. Educate employees. Let them know through internal newsletters, posters, email and town hall meetings that the organization is embracing sustainable sourcing.
5. Enlist senior executive support.
It starts at the top. If senior executives shy away from sustainable sourcing because they believe that it is too expensive to implement, education needs to start with them. Engaged senior executives set the tone for the rest of the business. They are key in the staff educational process. When senior executives are supportive of sustainable sourcing, they can help motivate suppliers to make changes.
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