Sustainable procurement is an opportunity for government organizations and private companies to make a lasting impact on the world around them. From capital purchases to office supplies, procurement coordinators have a choice in where they invest their funds. Considering five criteria (environmental impact, buying local, supplier diversity, worker ownership, and high road workplace practices) when making purchasing decisions can lead to a number of positive outcomes and can have significant impact on the organization, the environment, the community, and public perception.
Local governments have a unique opportunity to invest in sustainable procurement. Cities can affect positive change in their communities and are able to adopt innovative practices that might not be feasible on a larger scale. The growth of sustainable procurement is impacted by both demand and supply. Procurement specialists often have limited time and resources to dedicate to determining whether current suppliers meet sustainability requirements, and even less time available to seek alternatives. In addition, a lack of knowledge about the contract process and lack of access can negatively impact smaller, local, and diverse suppliers.
While recent innovations have reduced costs and increased access to environmentally friendly products, there are several practices that can help protect the continued growth of sustainable procurement. An important first step is for government purchasers to establish requirements for how funds should be spent, such as requiring that specific percentages be directed toward small, minority-owned, or woman-owned businesses. With continued investment in sustainable purchasing, governments and organizations can have a positive impact in their communities.
The Power of Sustainable Purchasing, Eliza Kelsten, Shirley-Ann Behravesh, The American Sustainable Business Council, June 1st, 2018. Download a PDF of this article.
California Sustainability Alliance: Local Government Green Procurement Guide, September 1st, 2010. More information on this article can be found here.
California Sustainability Alliance’s Eight Elements of Green Procurement. More information on this article can be found here.
US General Service Administration. More information on this article can be found here.
Sustainable Facilities Tool and Green Procurement Compilation
Sustainable Procurement Platform. More information on this article can be found here.
Local Governments for Sustainability. More information on this article can be found here.
Phoenix, AZ has developed a Sustainable Purchasing Policy (SPP), which has laid out steps the city takes to “purchase products and services that have a reduced effect on human health and the environment.”
The City of Chicago works with CASE, Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy, which helps “foster strategic relationships between anchor institutions and small businesses who can supply their needs, to build economic vitality across Chicago’s neighborhoods.”
The Minneapolis city government has developed the Small Underutilized Business Program or SUBP, which helps “create opportunities for Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women-owned Business Enterprises (WBEs).” And have strong policies, statues, and ordinances around purchasing and procurement.
In 1994 Portland created “Sustainable City Principles,” that the updated in 2010. Like Phoenix, these policies and principles help guide the city of Portland to sustainable procurement practices. They have also developed a “Subcontractor Equity Program” for all city improvement contracts.