Sustainability: The Next Big Thing in Procurement?

All signs point to “yes” as new studies emerge showing how many organizations are focused on sustainable procurement practices.

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My new year’s resolution for 2017 was to be more environmentally conscious and actively observe the principals of reduce, reuse and recycle. Unlike resolutions of year’s past, I am sticking with this one. Three months in (I started early!) and I’ve proudly diverted more recyclable material away from the local landfill than I could have expected. I had no idea how much “single use” plastic and other recyclable packaging I used on a regular basis. I now only dispose of a small bag (made of recycled paper) about once per week, and if I had the space to compost I could probably cut that down even further. (My next goal!)

What does any of this have to do with procurement? Well, one area that was predicted to be a greater priority for procurement teams in 2017, according to Procurement Leaders, is sustainability. And, it has certainly been getting a lot of attention.

Tree Growing out of Money.jpg

We’ve been watching this trend and discussing how our members are embracing the principles of sustainable procurement practices. What we are learning is that the trends may be farther along the maturity-curve than originally thought.

According to a recent study by EcoVadis (provider of Supplier Sustainability Ratings), they are seeing evidence of a more mature sustainability landscape; it shows that Fortune 500 companies are actually investing heavily to ensure sustainability and that they experience significant returns. Spend Matters highlights the report findings, sharing that “50 percent of sustainable procurement leaders experienced increased revenue from sustainability initiatives, a 33 percent increase over non-leaders.”

[NOTE: If you have questions about procurement’s growing role in sustainability, and the importance of integrating sustainable supplier innovation into your practices I suggest reading "Is it Worth Fighting For Sustainable Procurement?"]

With statistics validating the significant benefits of sustainable procurement practices the compelling reason to act is clear. But, what may not be as clear is how to get started. Aligning with suppliers that engage in sustainable practices is a good place to start. For example, Corporate United’s partner Georgia-Pacific has a large focus on sustainability, and can help "Bring Sustainable Products to Your Breakroom".

We all have the ability to influence wider social and environmental objectives, whether in our homes or in our businesses, I hope you will join me in the effort.


VP, Marketing at Corporate United
Rick is the Vice President of Marketing at Corporate United. In this role, he leads Corporate United’s efforts to educate and empower the market, create opportunities for engagement between members and partners, and drive positive, measurable results.