Assessing your environmental impacts
The methods, decision making processes and supplier selection criteria will necessarily be a subjective review, not a quantitative analysis. There may be aspects that can be analysed, such as percentage of supplies that have required an environmental statement, but on the whole it is a written statement of what actually happens and why that will record your current position.
Deciding on your targets
Your businesses environmental policy relating to procurement should be drawn up and made available to everyone within the business.
Reducing your impacts
All types of purchasing can be considered as part of an environmental policy. These include raw materials, goods purchased for resale, office supplies, utilities, services, financial costs and plant and equipment.
Purchasing new items should only be done when necessary. Items that are serviceable or repairable should usually be maintained unless there is a clear and significant energy or fuel efficiency to be gained by replacement.
All businesses should aim to purchase recycled goods where possible. Whilst businesses may be willing to recycle their waste, purchasing recycled goods remains an anathema. For instance recycled paper for use in the office is now capable of passing any Pepsi challenge against paper of the same weight and price. In the case of paper you should look for as high percentage of post-consumer waste as possible, this saves virgin forest, water and energy. There are lots of alternatives, we have found the Evolve Office (80gsm) and Evolve Business (100gsm) to be good. You might also consider becoming an almost paperless office. Scanners, modern computers and easy to use software mean that archiving documents is viable for all businesses. Once you have experienced the benefits including fast searches of all documents you will only wish you had gone “paperless” sooner.
There are lots of other office and business products that are recycled, and all are vastly beneficial to the environment compared to purchasing products made from raw materials. It is also preferable to purchase items that will last rather than cheaper throw away products.
Businesses should minimise the use of natural resources and purchase non-polluting and energy efficient technologies wherever possible. Technology and design in your particular sector will have a range of efficiencies that you can explore. One item of technology relevant to most business is computing. If practical buy a laptop instead of a desktop; it consumes five times less electricity.
An environmental policy on purchasing will include selecting suppliers with their own environmental policy and good credentials. Lists of preferred suppliers are available in some sectors although of course markets can change rapidly.
Local purchases (reducing your delivery schedule impacts) and low packaging (reducing your waste) should be part of all purchasing criteria.
When purchasing services you should consider the waste that the supplier produces and their general stance regarding the environment. In the case of a small local professional company this can often be gleaned by a glance around their website and car park. Banking arrangements can be made through Triodos Bank or The Cooperative Bank who both operate strong ethical policies.