Monday 4 February 2013

What is Sustainable Procurement?

Authored by Claire Sexton 

Whilst I was sat with a client last week having a coffee, we got around to discussing Sustainable Procurement and what this actually means.

I see Sustainable Procurement as the process of improving the efficiency by which public money is spent whilst at the same time using influence to bring about major environmental and social benefits locally and globally. It is the process of purchasing goods, services and works that takes into account the social, economic and environmental impact that such purchasing has on people and communities whilst still achieving value.

Public procurement is central to delivering the social, economic and environmental benefits that sustainable economic growth demands.

I believe that it is important that organisations develop specific plans, policies, procedures and targets to promote the buying of more sustainable goods and services.  In the eyes of the tax payer we all want to see a commitment to ensuring that the money the public sector spends on behalf of the country achieves value for money and contributes to sustainable economic growth.  Sustainable Procurement is good procurement and has to have a recognised role within a balanced approach alongside improved quality and reduced costs in the continuous overall drive for better value for money.

Sustainable Procurement will help to deliver optimum value for money, for example by reducing consumption and waste by doing more with less, reducing environmental impacts (using environmentally preferable goods/works/services), delivering additional social benefits (e.g. supporting training and employment opportunities) and/or supporting economic growth.  Success will only be achieved through a whole organisation approach which recognises that the procurement process starts at the point where customers begin to consider their requirements. 

The potential for a positive economic impact of public procurement is substantial.  Public contracts are competitively tendered and a prime focus must be on engagement with suppliers and efforts to assist suppliers, especially SMEs, to be competitive and successful  in seeking public contracts.  Organisation should look to engage with suppliers to ensure that they have visibility and understanding of working with the public sector and the opportunities available to them.  In parallel, they should look to simplify and standardise  processes, e.g.  Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) documents and supplier data profiles, to make the tendering process more efficient for both buyers and suppliers.

What are your views on Sustainable Procurement?

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