A company can consider, as a part of its strategy to green its procurement process, consider some of the following approaches:
- Supplier focus (through the supplier registration form with emphasis on environmental performance of supplier)
- Product and Service focus (including environmental specifications)
- Lifecycle Analysis (internal analyses, or utilizing LCAs completed by outside groups).
The objective of such procurements can include -
- creating awareness of environmental impact; developing guidelines for green procurement;
- rethinking material requirements and consumption;
- reducing the use of hazardous materials; improving energy efficiency of purchased materials;
- reducing pollution and noise levels and using recycled materials, and recycling waste.
MORE THAN JUST 3Rs
Going beyond the usual '3Rs' of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, a business can attempt to implement the following principles:
- RECLAIM: Improve, get back and/or make operational once again, wasted or degraded resources - for example, in the case of degraded or unusable land or derelict buildings.
- RECONSIDER: Used in relation to sustainable living: reconsider the need for a wasteful living lifestyle, the overuse of resources and redundant materials -- in order to have a minimum impact on the environment.
- RECOVER: Salvage or recoup the usefulness of a resource. Also bring a resource back to its original or improved functioning state.
- REGULATE: Control and restrict resource use with prescribed rules and norms - particularly in the case of non-renewable resources. It can also include the management and monitoring of such resources to prevent misuse and degradation.
- RELINQUISH/RENOUNCE: Relinquishing or renouncing refers to giving up the use of certain goods or services that produce a negative environmental impact. Sometimes it may also mean the giving up of a personal 'convenience' for the good of the environment.
- REPAIR: Quite simply, machines and technologies that are in a bad condition or in a state of deterioration (uses more resources and emits) more waste that normal) need to be repaired to make it more efficient with less environmental impacts.
- REPLACE: In some cases, resource crunching, wasteful goods and technologies have to be replaced by more appropriate and productive alternatives, that are less energy intensive too.
- RESTORE: Reinstall and return to the environment the resources that were taken from it. Restoring also refers to the return of resources to its natural state.
- RESTRICT: Curtail and control the indiscriminate and wasteful use of natural resources. It can also mean the confinement of resources use within levels below which it can be regenerated and regulated.
- RECONDITION: An example of recycling - to disassemble and clean products recovered in factories and reassemble them after changing some parts. Quality assurance is processed as required and reconditioned products and units are shipped to the market as the same products and units as those recovered.
Under these guidelines, a business can introduce measures to increase the utilization of recycled materials and the purchase of more environmental friendly equipment (for instance, computes with a high Energy-Star rating, or computers with higher percentage of recyclable materials). The gradual phasing out of the energy inefficient machines is one method by which to reduce to energy consumption and can be achieved through these green procurement guidelines.
In order to ensure the effective implementation of these guidelines, a business can carefully consider existing procurement practices in order to evaluate where the major environmental impacts lie. Methods can then be sought to integrate environmental considerations into its purchasing practices. These can be designed to fit with existing procurement methods, and to act as a support tool for purchasing staff. The policy, procedures and practices should not be designed to prohibit the purchase of any goods - merely to favour goods that are environmentally friendly. Other factors of quality, price, delivery times, etc., still remain paramount in purchasing decisions.