How will Sustainable Procurement be Achieved?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

As we look back on the last decade, sustainability was increasingly forcing the future agenda of global businesses.  Unsurprisingly, during 2019, it had become one of the most popular discussion topics at CASME events.  We asked a selection of CASME subscribers around the world what is influencing their organisation’s future sustainability strategy, how sustainability will be achieved, and to what extent should Procurement own the journey. 


Kristin Bentsen, Manager, Risk Management - Supplier Diversity & Sustainability, Amgen Inc. (North America)

What is sustainable procurement?  That is a question I’m often asked. In my opinion, sustainable procurement is a programme with processes that enables organisations to make sourcing/purchasing decisions that mutually benefit their company and customers while positively impacting society, the environment, and the economy.

Implementing change requires top-down commitment within an organisation and strong leadership to drive it.  While external intrigue has largely fuelled the appetite for sustainable procurement within some organisations, many are now realising the importance, the value, and the risk of not making this part of their strategic imperative.

Achieving sustainable procurement is a journey.  In my opinion, the first step is clearly defining a set of standards, such as a comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct, embedding expectations into contract templates and purchase order terms/conditions, and utilising tools to enforce accountability.  There is also value in leveraging our peers through industry groups, such as Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI), to collaboratively establish guiding principles, set expectations and educate suppliers on best practices to drive improvement, promote transparency, and influence change. 


Neil Narayanan, National Procurement Manager, King & Wood Mallesons (Australia)

Procurement professionals have a significant role to play in helping organisations build or extend their sustainable procurement (including sustainability) programmes.  It is extremely important for such programmes to be carefully designed and neatly aligned with the organisational aspirations and sense of purpose.

The age of entitlement and insatiable consumption is well and truly behind us.  It is time that we reset our collective thinking and performance, and realign with the expectations of the markets, clients and communities that we serve.  Ultimately our credibility, reputation and branding need to take centre stage – in a sustainable manner!


Lisa Spice, Global Strategic Sourcing and Facility Management, Levis Strauss & Co (Europe)
If sustainability’s triple bottom line is ‘People, Planet and Profit’, the Strategic Sourcing function is uniquely placed to drive this agenda.  Alignment with strategic objectives and visibility through the supply chain, coupled with our breadth of touch points across the company makes us a cornerstone of delivering sustainability.  Sustainable procurement depends on harnessing the whole business, sourcing with a view to the long term and working with our supply base to build sustainability by design into what we source.  From our unique position, we can identify and harness opportunities for both our own business, and those of our suppliers, to grow, innovate and make a difference.


Tony Saleh, Sustainability Lead, SCM Pooling Categories, Siemens Plc, (UK)

Given the relationship and influence that procurement teams have with their supply chain and their own organisation, and given that an organisation’s supply chain carbon footprint is typically ten times that of its internal footprint, then it is incumbent on Procurement to tap into this expert knowledge that exists and drive the sustainability journey throughout the value chain.

My own opinion is that it is not just consumers driving our sustainability strategy, but a combination of shareholders, management, our own wonderful employees and expert suppliers, whose social conscience, creativity, enthusiasm and innovation is really coming to the fore.  The best way to achieve what needs to be done is to work together, pooling the expert knowledge from across the organisation and beyond, and Procurement are perfectly positioned to do just that!  Here’s to a sustainable 2020!   


Sustainability is one of the topics covered in CASME's annual programme of events and published content.  A RoundTable series on Sustainable Sourcing and CSR will take place between January and April 2020 with full-day events planned in Paris, Melbourne, Singapore and Manchester. For more information on CASME’s Procurement Insights or to request a copy of the 2020 event schedule please contact our team.


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