Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

Sustainable Procurement Requirements — The Ultimate Guide

Key take-aways

  • Sustainable procurement requirements are strategic visions tied to a company’s culture and policies that affect the decision-making level.
  • To achieve sustainable procurement, global awareness, CSR leadership, transparent communication, and a focus on innovation are required
  • Sustainable procurement can be more successful through the implementation of key performance indicators. 

Sustainable procurement requirements are closely tied to the company’s culture and policies. But what are the requirements to attain sustainable procurement?

In this article, we will talk about what sustainable procurement requirements are. We will also examine how to measure sustainable performance and the best practices in sustainable procurement. 

After reading this article, you will have an enhanced knowledge of the requirements of sustainable procurement. Thus, it will allow you to align the requirements with your business goals and objectives. 

I have created a free-to-download editable Sustainable Procurement Policy templateIt’s a PowerPoint file, together with an Excel filethat can help you with your sustainability goals. I even created a video where I’ll explain how you can use this template.

What is Sustainability in Procurement?

Sustainability in procurement is the integration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles into your company’s procurement processes and decisions while ensuring it meets the requirements of the stakeholders. 

It integrates requirements, specifications, and criteria that are compatible with the protection of the environment and society.

Commitment to sustainability in procurement ensures that the company’s core values are throughout the life cycle of its products or services. 

Sustainable procurement helps businesses by providing opportunities for brand differentiation as it encourages businesses to develop more sustainable and innovative products. 

From the buyer’s perspective, sustainability in procurement primarily consists of balancing three essential concepts which are the environment, society, and economy. 

Why Invest in Sustainable Procurement?

Wondering why you should invest in sustainable procurement? Well, here’s a list of reasons why!

1. Cost reduction

Businesses of all sizes need to save money and reduce costs as much as possible. Saving money enables them to invest more which allows them to scale and earn higher profits. 

Sustainability in procurement helps reduce the total cost of ownership through the reduction of energy costs, minimized consumption, over-specification, and environmental and social compliance cost.

2. Risk reduction

Risk is linked with all the suppliers of an organization it chooses to partner with. But, relationships with your suppliers who engage in bad practices may have a financial impact on brand value. 

Also, there is a risk associated with the economic cost of sustainable procurement disruptions due to non-compliance with industry environmental regulations. 

Investing in sustainable procurement practices ensures that you are working with suppliers who have the same objectives and comply with environmental regulations.

3. Revenue growth

When we talk about sustainability in procurement, it focuses on giving back to the environment and society. 

Sustainable procurement brings additional revenue through the innovation of eco-friendly products and services, price increases for premium products and services, and income from recycling programs. 

According to the World Economic Forum, implementing sustainable procurement practices in the processes of a business provides a 15% to 30% increase in brand equity which creates revenue growth. 

Requirements For Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable procurement requirements are strategic visions tied to a company’s culture and policies that affect the decision-making level. Importantly, we know that sustainable procurement must be a strategic initiative and not just a reporting document. 

Below are the following requirements of a sustainable procurement:

  • Understanding local, regional, and global actions
  • Support from culture, strategy, mission, and people
  • Corporate social responsibility leadership
  • Implementation of operational and strategic decision-making
  • Measuring the performance of suppliers
  • A well-thought risk management approach
  • Transparent communication
  • Making sustainability the opportunity for innovation

Measuring Sustainable Performance

The requirements for sustainable procurement are continuously changing. Due to this, key performance indicators must be developed as well. Companies must assess the suppliers’ commitment and performance. 

There are many factors to consider in knowing that you have a successful sustainable performance tracking. This includes industry knowledge, reliable data, and analytical competence. 

Additionally, procurement practices must have the ability to communicate performance and enable change in the organization. 

The company must identify which areas of spend have the highest ESG impact and opportunities for improvement. Additionally, it can focus its primary efforts on key suppliers and risk categories where it can make the most impact. 

Furthermore, the best way to know the continued relevance of sustainability is through reporting. Using formal standards keeps your reporting transparent and organized. 

Best Practices in Sustainable Procurement 

Many businesses are implementing CSR policies as well as established requirements to fulfill their commitments. These policies are utilized internally to raise awareness among employees and externally with suppliers and other partners. 

Here are some of the best practices for ensuring a sustainable procurement:

  • Define the company’s corporate social responsibility criteria
  • Initiate the creation of procurement requirements
  • Select suppliers with the same corporate social responsibility
  • Avoid putting unnecessary pressure on suppliers that might impact your workers
  • Think about the effects of the prices that you set
  • Give reasonable time for suppliers to address areas of non-compliance and provide support to help them improve
  • Help your major suppliers to share good practices by creating benchmarking groups
  • Implement a life cycle and overall financial basis into procurement processes. 
  • Paying attention to product labels
  • Raise awareness among other teams in your company

Blending sustainable procurement, corporate social responsibility, and compliance is entirely within reach and can lead to substantial gains in an organization. 

Conclusion

Sustainable procurement requirements are crucial elements deeply intertwined with a company’s culture and policies. This article explores the essence of sustainable procurement, its benefits, and the strategic requirements for implementation.

Cost reduction, risk mitigation, and revenue growth are key incentives for investing in sustainable procurement. The requirements encompass understanding global actions, corporate social responsibility leadership, transparent communication, and innovation opportunities.

Measuring sustainable performance involves dynamic key performance indicators, transparent reporting, and a focus on high-impact areas. Best practices involve defining CSR criteria, collaborating with socially responsible suppliers, and integrating sustainability into procurement processes, fostering a holistic approach for substantial organizational gains.

Frequentlyasked questions

What are sustainable procurement requirements?

These are strategic visions tied to a company’s culture and policies that can impact the decision-making level.

What is sustainable procurement?

It is the integration of corporate social responsibility principles into your company’s procurement processes and decisions while ensuring that you still meet the requirements of the stakeholders.

How to know if sustainability is still relevant?

The best way to know the relevance of sustainability is through reporting. Using formal standards keeps your reporting transparent and organized. Thus, it allows you to know if sustainability is still relevant in your processes.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics