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Establishing A Green Purchasing Policy

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 3 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
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By establishing a green purchasing policy businesses can not only reduce the use of resources but also support those progressive companies that pride principles over profit.

Sustainable Purchasing

Recycling is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of company waste, but better still would be in cutting down on the use of resources in the first place. This can be achieved by implementing a green purchasing policy.

With 60% of shoppers in the UK now considering the ethics of the items they buy, green purchasing is no longer a niche market and many organisations are following suit and establishing their own green purchasing policies.

For instance, organisations might cut down on their waste by committing to buying recycled or recyclable paper, biodegradable packaging or organic food stuffs.

The reasons for making environmentally friendly purchasing choices include:

  • Direct environmental benefits – more efficient use of resources, fewer emissions and reduced waste.
  • Improves market position of environmentally friendly industrial manufacturers and suppliers, and thereby deprives companies more concerned with money than the environment.
  • Increased demand for green products will prompt technological and industrial advances towards greener products.
  • Raises environmental awareness.

Eco Purchasing Policy

A green purchasing policy outlines your company criteria for any products and services sourced. It should feature in all contracts, tender documents as well as the company website, thereby ensuring that all staff, customers and suppliers are aware of your minimum environmental requirements.

The goal of the policy is to cut out unnecessary purchasing by reviewing whether certain products are essential, and if so, seeking out greener variants with comparable, if not improved, performance.

The policy document itself should be made up of bullet points that ask green related questions about products and services to ensure certain environmental standards are upheld. These could include queries such as:

  • Is the packaging made from recycled materials?
  • Is it necessary to buy the item or can it be leased or rented instead?
  • Can the item be reused, reconditioned, refilled, recharged in order to prolong its life?
  • Has the food item been genetically modified?

For ease of use, the questions should be divided up into several distinguishable categories such as ‘hazardous content’, ‘recycling and use of resources’, ‘energy’, ‘packaging’, ‘food’ and ‘transportation’.

Step-by-Step Eco-friendly Approach

As with other green policies implemented around the office, this should be introduced gradually in stages.

To begin the process, it is best to first tackle those products and services used by your company that have the greatest impact on the environment, so as to have the biggest immediate impact.

The second stage should focus on those items that are most visible within your organisation, such as stationary or computer equipment.

When looking for new suppliers it is worth looking out for these bonus points:

  • Do they source products from local manufacturers?
  • Do they sell items that have been reused, refurbished, remanufactured or recycled?
  • Do they avoid harmful materials and practices in their manufacturing processes?
  • Do their products have minimal adverse impact on the environment?

Sustainable Purchasing Policy Targets

To give your scheme a motivational focus it is good idea to set specific targets and deadlines. For example, these might include:

  • By the next financial quarter all new computers to be refurbished models.
  • All office paper to be of recycled content.
  • All stationary packaging to be biodegradable.
  • All canteen food is organic.
  • Introduction of solar powered electronics such as calculators and desk fans.

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