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Sustainability for Buyers (Sustainable Procurement pt.II)

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blog hero - sustainability for buyers (pt.II)Thinking of putting your next project out for tender but not sure how to ensure the procurement process follows Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) principles? Below is a step-by-step guide outlining ways to include sustainability as a consideration in your procurement.

Step One: Plan the procurement

Less is more
The first step to including sustainability principles in your procurement process is identifying the need for the goods and services. Consider using demand management strategies which can be as simple as asking the question ‘is this really needed?’

  • A solution-focused demand management strategy may look like this:
  • Identifying areas where alternatives to buying are available, such as reusing, hiring, or sharing goods/services

Considering which actions will help to minimise the amount of goods or services purchased, such as combining behaviour change and technology

Identify sustainability outcomes
After confirming which goods and services are needed, ensure you review the list to determine and prioritise potential sustainability outcomes of the procurement; this will allow you to plan your approach to achieve these outcomes.

Assess the risks and opportunities
Consider the risks throughout the entire lifecycle of the goods and services being procured. This step may require conversing with stakeholders and considering their technical input to help resolve any risks you may find.

Undertake market research and engagement
During the risk assessment, you may find the need to undertake market research. This is an essential step to help identify alternative approaches that reduce sustainability risks and impacts.

Step Two: Approach to market
This section outlines the steps you can take to introduce sustainability requirements into the relevant Approach to Market (ATM) documentation. Once the sustainability requirements for your procurement have been defined, they can be introduced to potential suppliers in the ATM documentation, along with the associated key performance indicators (KPIs) and evaluation criteria.

Specify sustainability requirements
When developing ATM documentation, consider how the procurement’s scope, scale, and risk will guide the degree to which sustainability requirements will form the ATM. Sustainability risks and priorities can be included using any of the following:
  • Physical or descriptive requirements: specifies the characteristics of the goods or services required
  • Functional requirements: specifies proposed functions of goods and services
  • Performance requirements: Defines performance standards that are to be met

Develop KPIs
Developing KPIs will allow you to measure the performance or success of individual sustainability requirements.

To ensure your KPIs are relevant and can be measured, it's a good idea to form them around the SMART guideline. (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely)

Develop evaluation criteria
Another critical step in developing ATM documentation is to include a comprehensive evaluation criterion that can be used to assess the sustainability requirements. The following types of measures are recommended to evaluate a potential supplier’s response to the sustainability requirements:

  • Qualifying: used to set minimum standards for sustainable procurement
  • Rated: weighted criteria which are scored and ranked in order of merit
  • Quantifiable: criteria applied to prices allowing for comparison between responses
  • Fit for purpose: used to establish the functionality of goods or services and evaluate their performance.

Step Three: Evaluate and engage

Assess tender responses
If you want to know more, read our blog about how to assess the best value for money and what this means. Lifecycle costs to assist in measuring value for money.

Debrief unsuccessful tenderers
When rejecting a tender response, it is good practice to make debriefings available to all tenderers. This provides them with the opportunity to discuss areas in which they did not meet the criteria and provide feedback as to where they could have strengthened any sustainability criteria. This ultimately works to increase knowledge in the market about sustainable procurement.

Step Four: Report and manage
Monitor sustainable compliance and performance.
Any standards and specifications identified in the ATM are to be reflected in the contract and monitored throughout the agreement's lifespan. Regular communication with the supplier will help manage compliance with the contract. Asking the supplier for any relevant information will allow you to discern whether they have met the requirements outlined by the contract and will allow for interim reporting on the KPIs. 

Disposal of goods

Proper management includes the assurance that goods can be disposed of in a way that aligns with CSR principles at the end of their life. Goods or materials can be recycled or recovered through commercial kerbside recycling collection services, with help from a specialist recycler or whether  they can be taken back/returned to the supplier through a product stewardship scheme.

Step Five: Review and learn
Identify opportunities to improve
During the contract management process, you may have found opportunities to work with the supplier to provide ways to continually improve sustainability outcomes. This provides a mechanism for you to discuss your own suggestions on how to improve sustainability and allows the supplier to share their ideas for new innovations or technologies they would recommend.

Share your experience
Knowledge sharing is a great way to encourage and incentivise positive behaviour. It encourages others to take into consideration sustainable procurement outcomes or consider more recycled content.

This can be done through a variety of channels such as releasing newsletters, creating a sustainable procurement portal or discussing your experience verbally at departmental meetings.
Find out more
To find out more about how you can integrate a structured sustainable approach to your company’s procurement check out these resources below:

If you're interested in learning more about sustainable procurement and ways in which you can help combat climate change then check out our blog: Sustainable Procurement. What is it and how can it help you?


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