Sustainable procurement good for business

29 Nov 2018
Kate Alcock, Climate and Resources Manager

Sustainable procurement is a hot topic for members, with transparency in the supply chain rated the third highest trend likely to impact members in the next 2-3 years (after shifting consumer expectations and climate change).

So there was a real buzz at our workshops in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington this week - 35 procurement managers as well as 45 sustainability managers were up for a great discussion. The workshops covered an overview of sustainable procurement and topical issues like modern slavery, labour rights, plastics and emissions.

As is always the case with SBC events, members got to hear first hand experiences and insights from Kiri Hannifin at Countdown, Dawn Baggaley at New Zealand Post and Lou Aitken from Ākina. We’re grateful for their openness and willingness to share their policies and frameworks.

Kiri Hannifin, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Countdown

Countdown have had a major focus on plastics and working with suppliers to ensure their sub-contractors are treated well and paid fairly. We were blown away by Kiri's advocacy and tenacity about "the right thing to do".

Common talking points were how to decide what to prioritise - with factors informing this including high value or high risk categories, and identifying obvious opportunities to strengthen shared objectives between the business and suppliers.

We talked about the main drivers for integrating sustainability in procurement processes, including brand reputation, economic benefit, employee recruitment and retention, and legislation – even if it’s outside New Zealand.

And just what are the key elements of sustainable business practices that you should be asking for? This comes back to your business objectives and material issues - what is it that you’re trying to achieve? For example, if you want to work with suppliers to reduce emissions, a key part of the Climate Leaders Coalition commitments, they need to have a good handle on their carbon footprint - which is where certifications such as CEMARS or carboNZero certification are sought after.

SBC has created a quick guide on tools and resources to support sustainable procurement and will look at developing a TechTalk on particular topics members would like us to drill down on further.

We're excited to see where members will go next to advance the great and varied work already being done on making procurement processes work to create more value.

Kate Alcock, Climate and Resources Manager