Sustainable sourcing

Sustainability in Sourcing Part II: Sourcing's Role

An image of a glass globe in the forest.

In previous blogs, SIG has covered the basic concept of sustainability, including an overview of its various dimensions. In this post, I will touch on the role that sourcing professionals can have in meeting corporate sustainability goals.

Why should sourcing have a role?

Sourcing is uniquely positioned to contribute to meeting a corporation's sustainability goals because sourcing typically has expertise in:

  • Creating alignment to corporate goals
  • Building frameworks to measure success
  • Researching market conditions and supplier capabilities
  • Conducting strategic negotiations 
  • Designing innovative methods for value creation
  • Ranking the priorities of stakeholders with supplier offerings   
  • Identifying risk and mitigating responsibly

The reduction in costs after implementing a sustainability program can exceed the costs of implementation – in other words, you’re spending money up front but in the long run, you save more than you spend. For example, if an organization were to target the spend category of corporate services and facilities management (FM), capital may be invested in working with a supplier to install a new system that reduces energy consumption at the company's North American headquarters, but in the long run, the reduction in energy costs saves the company money – which of course, can then be reinvested.

In this example, procurement and sourcing are uniquely positioned to make this happen. Most likely Sourcing negotiated the original FM contract, understands the innovative capabilities of suppliers, has heard many recent pitches on new products, and is adept at performing the analysis that proves an investment can have a significant return in hard costs, and even soft costs.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence

Sustainable Sourcing 101

An image of a sustainable forest with the sun coming through the trees.

The concept of sustainable sourcing, also known as green purchasing or social sourcing, is nothing new. Sustainable sourcing is impacting nearly every area of corporate business and the consumer’s mindset. Everything from sourcing materials, talent attraction and consumer purchasing habits are changing because of the growth of sustainable sourcing. However, the term gets thrown around in the procurement industry quite a lot and is often misunderstood or misused. So, here’s a guide with all the basics you need to know about sustainable sourcing.  

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE SOURCING

First and foremost, we have to define the term. Sustainable sourcing is the integration of social, ethical and environmental performance factors into the process of selecting suppliers. It includes purchasing sustainably preferable products and services (products made from recycled or remanufactured materials), as well as green purchasing guidelines that might pertain to certain products or commodities.  

Heather Young, Senior Marketing Manager