Businesses and organizations around the world are shifting their focus towards becoming more environmentally-friendly. For most of them, the products and services they use play a big part in that. Incorporating eco-friendly purchasing into your procurement processes can significantly reduce landfill waste and save you money, all while conserving energy and natural resources. With all-things procurement on the mind, we created this post to help you get started. After reviewing your business' current procurement processes, meet with your purchasing team and consider the following ideas to buy more sustainably:
purchasing with sustainability in mind
FOCUS ON THE THREE R'S
One of the easiest ways to reduce your business' impact is to purchase items that can be reduced, reused, or recycled. Consider adding these rules to your procurement process for office supplies:
- Avoid buying single-use disposable items like Styrofoam cups and plastic silverware
- Look for quality items that do not need to be replaced often
- Buy paper that is made from recycled content
- Purchase reusable or compostable plates, cups and cutlery for the kitchen or cafeteria
- Consider whether items can be recycled or donated after you're done with them
- Do not purchase something that isn't reusable or recyclable
BUY IN BULK
The best way to reduce packaging waste is to require less in the products you buy. Purchasing items in larger quantities can reduce associated packaging. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food and packaging/containers account for almost 45% of the materials sent to landfill in the United States. Reviewing your frequent purchases and identifying opportunities to purchase in bulk is an easy way to reduce packaging waste.
BUY HIGHER-QUALITY PRODUCTS
Buying high-quality products may cost more money upfront, but will end up saving you money in the long run. Higher-quality products are more energy efficient and durable, meaning your business can avoid replacement and repair costs down the road. It's always a good idea to buy high quality kitchen appliances, printers, computers, telephones, and office supplies. Since the lifespan of high-quality products are longer, you end up sending less waste to landfill and your business' disposal costs will reflect that.
ESTABLISH WRITTEN POLICIES FOR PURCHASING PRODUCTS
Developing guidelines and criteria for how your business should be procuring products is important. Here are some questions to consider when vetting a product:
Can we buy this item in bulk to reduce packaging?
Can we purchase the same item in recycled content?
Can we reuse this item once it reaches the end of its life?
Where is this product coming from?
Are reusable alternatives available?
WORK WITH ECO-FRIENDLY SUPPLIERS
It's important to establish a policy outlining which suppliers you work with as well. You may discover a particular supplier is a better-aligned with your business' sustainability goals. Or perhaps you can encourage your current suppliers to use less packaging, or request that products are shipped in reusable or returnable containers. By considering the following questions, your business can find a supplier who matches your standard:
Does the supplier ship the products in a sustainable fashion?
Are the products shipped with excessive packaging?
Do the supplies contain substances that are harmful to the environment?
Can the shipping materials be recycled or reused?
Is the supplier willing to reduce packaging?
Do they offer paperless billing?
What sustainably programs does the business follow?
Are purchased goods manufactured in a sustainable fashion?
CHOOSE ENERGY-EFFICIENT PRODUCTS
Choose ENERGY STAR products when shopping to save energy. The blue label makes it easy for businesses to purchase cost-effective and environmentally friendly products. In 2017 alone, ENERGY STAR helped Americans offset $30 billion in energy costs. For more information, check out the EPA's resource for buying greener products and services here.
Your business will see many economic, environmental, and social impacts when it begins making more sustainable purchases. By taking steps to shop more sustainably, your business will:
- Save money and reduce waste disposal costs
- Conserve natural resources
- Reduce air pollution, climate change, and toxic exposure
- Meet your customer's green expectations
- Boost employee morale
- Increase your green brand exposure
HOW TO GET STARTED
After reviewing these points with the procurement team, you may be surprised to learn how easy they are to implement, and even more surprised by how quickly they make a positive impact! If you need additional help, we'll be happy to help your business get started.