5 Factors for High-Impact Sustainable Procurement

 Are you aiming to get more meaningful change and positive social impact through your procurement? We’ve heard from over 40 organizations that these 5 success factors are key contributors to sustainable procurement that drives positive change in the supply chain.

Over the last 24 months Reeve Consulting has interviewed over 40 supply chain and sustainability representatives from governments, crown corporations and private sector organizations on the essential elements of sustainable procurement and what it takes to move beyond Policy to actual action and impact on the ground.

We’ve summarized the results of these practitioner interviews and collated the 5 success factors that are most commonly cited for creating high-impact sustainable procurement program.


1. Put your priorities into policy and spread the word

Utilize sustainable procurement to align organizational practices with values. The priorities identified within a sustainable procurement policy and program should cascade down and align with the priorities in your top-level sustainability plans and corporate strategies. Creating a policy defines sustainable procurement priorities and provides guidance to staff and suppliers on how sustainability will ‘show up’ within different forms of procurements.


2. Follow a two track program of building and doing

Policy is important; but policy alone does not drive action and it takes time to approve and begin to implement. Follow a two-track program that simultaneously works on ‘high impact procurement opportunities’ (HIPOs) while also taking the time to intentionally put in place the 10 elements of a high performing program. Do not wait for a policy to be perfected before integrating some social or environmental considerations into some of the products and services you are buying right now.


3. Form your fantasy sustainable procurement team

The partnership between the Procurement and Sustainability groups is especially important for the development of a high impact program, to drive more sustainability thinking into the planning and needs assessment stages of the procurement process. This powerful partnership can deliver a compelling message by communicating in internal working groups and sharing cross-developmental goals. When sustainable and procurement groups champion common values to the organization, leadership listens.


4. Set your staff up for success with tools and training

Deploy simple tools that can enable staff to begin to self-identify the sustainable risks and opportunities that might be relevant to their purchasing decisions. Engage a robust training  plan that encourages staff to be resourceful and facilitates discussion. Leverage early wins and repeat as required until a culture evolves that looks for opportunities.


5. Have a chat with your supplier over the garden wall

Working directly with suppliers is an approach to achieve impact without a formal program in place. Collaborate with vendors to address sustainability opportunities in your supply chain outside of traditional RFx processes. Consider asking suppliers if they have environmentally preferable options available, especially with more mature markets, where there is a less noticeable disparity in costs.


Realize your program’s full potential

Consider the benefits you could see by asking your supplier to engage with a social value business, or the increased efficiency of staff if they were trained to identify procurement opportunities and are supported by a cross-organizational working group. While policy can align your values and provide guidance when purchasing it is important to remember that policy by itself rarely gets the job done alone. Stay focused on a few program elements that will create an impact in the next six months.


Use the CCSP Benchmarking Framework or have your program maturity assessed by groups like Reeve Consulting to learn how to focus your efforts to higher impact quicker.

Ready, Set, Go Green your Fleet!


Green and alternative fuel vehicles are at the front of mind for most organizations across Canada, and with recent innovations in the sector it’s easy to get excited about fleet procurement opportunities. And it’s right on time. Transportation-related emissions make up 23% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Light duty vehicles including passenger vehicles and trucks make up 50% of emissions; heavy duty vehicles account for 35%. Reducing fleet emissions is central to Corporate Sustainability Strategies in both the public and private sectors. Every major city in Canada includes Fleet GHG reductions in their Corporate Sustainable Plans and Purchasing has a central role to play in meeting these goals.


The 3 pillars of Green Fleets

1. Electrifying the Fleet – i.e. replacing vehicles with electric options and establishing an effective and accessible charging

2. Fueling the Fleet – i.e. purchasing fuel with renewable, biologically derived content (e.g., B20).

3. Optimizing the Fleet – i.e. using technology and driver behaviour to reduce emissions.


Participants heard from Calgary’s Jack Nott, Team Lead of Acquisitions, Fleet Services and Vancouver’s Evan Dacey, Acting Branch Manager, Fleet Strategy and Asset Management about their progress on the three pillars. They covered issues such as costs, market maturity, the business case for EV’s, RFX requirements, and provided expert opinions on questions from those in attendance.


How to Specify

Rather than prescribing vehicle specifications, Calgary includes performance criteria such as “reduced energy consumption is preferred” — asking vendors to state all available low emissions, alternative fuels and EV options and demonstrate how these options reduce energy use. Having information on all technologies gives Calgary flexibility to negotiate them into the contract and sends a signal to the market. When asked if this reduced the numbers of bidders, Jack said it was quite the opposite.  The number of bidders increased, and every bidder included EV chassis pricing.


The Business Case

The upfront capital cost of EVs is a barrier. Considering the total cost of ownership can shift the balance in favour of EVs. In a recent RFP, Calgary found that the Chevy Bolt and Tesla 3 had the lowest total cost of ownership for compact and mid-size cars, respectively based on three simple questions:


1. How much is it?

2. How much does it cost to maintain?

3. How much does it cost in fuel to drive it a certain distance?



Vancouver cited additional benefits that offset the cost of medium and heavy-duty trucks including:

  • Internal carbon price of $150/tonne which effectively increases a department’s operating budget.
  • Worker health benefits associated with noise reduction on the job.


Pilots Projects

Another challenge in electrifying the Fleet is limited supply in vehicle categories such as medium and heavy-duty trucks. So, City of Vancouver is conducting pilot projects rather than following a more conventional RFP process.

Here’s how Vancouver approached it:

1. Conducted an RFEOI to better understand the market.

2. Issued an RFA (Request for Application) and pre-qualified three vendors.



They are now working with three vendors to test 4 chassis models on 2 cube vans and 2 refuse trucks.


With so much information, greening fleet vehicles can seem daunting; what we learned from Jack Nott at the City of Calgary, and Evan Dacey at the City of Vancouver is that this is not the case. By asking simple questions of their suppliers, deviating from conventional methods when necessary, and encouraging flexibility from their vendors, Calgary and Vancouver are now piloting innovative technologies instead of piloting policies.

Just Released: The CCSP’s 2020 State of the Nation Report on Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada

The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) has just released its Annual State of the Nation Report which showcases the efforts of its 30 member institutions to align their spending with their sustainability commitments. The report highlights that despite the effects that COVID-19 has had on their supply chains and organizational budgets this national community has still managed to advance their social, ethical, Indigenous, and green procurement goals. . In a difficult year, these member institutions shifted to procurements that benefit local and global communities and hopefully inspire other public-sector institutions to join the sustainable procurement movement.


About the State of the Nation Report

The Annual State of the Nation on Public Procurement in Canada highlights the latest sustainable procurement trends, features member success stories from across the country and includes the popular ‘moon chart’, which benchmarks CCSP members progress towards high impact programming that shows demonstratable outcomes. Information for the report was gathered through interviews with CCSP members from November 2020 to February 2021.


Top 5 Sustainable Procurement Trends of 2020

2020 Annual Report on the State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada

The public sector saw a shift in priorities this year as COVID-19 affected buying-power, single-use plastics usage, work environments, and prompted discussions of Living Wage policies. Organizations like universities, cities, and crown corporations were forced to refocus their priorities towards emergency response efforts, and sustainable procurement efforts were left with reduced resources. Some trends to emerge from these circumstances include:

  1. The Return of the Disposable: Single-Use Plastics Explode
  2. Living Wage Programs Explode to Help Front-Line Workers
  3. City Councillors Mainstream Buying for Good
  4. COVID Response Efforts Turbo-Charge Buying from Local SME’s
  5. Increased IT Purchasing to Support At-Home Workers

Social and Indigenous procurement was by contrast, boosted by the Black Lives Matter movement and the Canadian pipeline and railway protests. These movements brought forth national conversations on racial inequalities, economic disparity, and reconciliation, and have led to increased attention to opportunities for inclusion in procurement.


Success Stories

The City of Nanaimo began their Urban Clean-Up Program in response to concerns voiced by downtown residents and businesses about the impacts that social issues were having on the urban areas of the city, such as litter and debris. The City reached out directly to the Nanaimo Region of the John Howard Society and together they hired individuals with barriers to employment, such as those who have experienced homelessness or incarceration, to clean up discarded needles and other debris. The program has been successful both for the hired participants, who are receiving a fair wage and work experience, and for the resulting cleanliness of the downtown area.

The Government of Yukon advanced reconciliation through infrastructure procurement by engaging local Indigenous groups and contracting to Indigenous workers . In Yukon, where 23% of the territory’s total population is Indigenous (2016) and 11 out of their 14 First Nations are self- governing, the Government of Yukon has long considered Indigenous peoples as key partners. The project has set new standards for acknowledging Indigenous citizens impacted by infrastructure projects in their communities.


The CCSP community has made great strides this year despite unfavourable circumstances and have championed sustainable procurement in Canada for another year. We encourage you to download the full report here and contact Erin Unger, Program Manager for the CCSP should you be interested in learning more about the community.

Respecting the Process of Indigenous Procurement

Are you trying to align your organization’s spending with your reconciliation agenda? Or are you wondering how to get started on Indigenous Procurement? On April 6th, the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) hosted its second Peer Exchange of 2021 and delved into these and several other discussion questions with practitioners from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and the City of Thunder Bay with almost 80 leaders in procurement and sustainability from across Canada.

As organizations continue to discover the major role that Indigenous businesses play in the Canadian economy, the importance of timely and respectful Indigenous Procurement becomes very real. The CCSP has recently restructured its sustainable procurement model and definition to include a 4th pillar, Indigenous Procurement, to reflect the unique aspect of this work. One of the fundamental elements of an Indigenous Procurement program is having a easily understood definition of what characterizes an Indigenous business. While different organizations have varying definitions of an Indigenous Business, the commonly accepted definition is as defined by the Government of Canada for the purposes of their work in this areas is is “An Indigenous firm is one which is 51% owned and controlled by Indigenous persons.”

Judy Kitts, First Nations Engagement Officer at the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) began her presentation by providing an overview of their definition and how GVHA actively pursues opportunities with Indigenous businesses. Judy stressed the importance of helping Indigenous supplier to navigate their way through the RFP process. Judy has created an Indigenous Business Directory of 35 businesses whom she stays in touch with regularly to maintain strong relationships. As with many organizations, COVID-19 has reduced the GVHA budget and therefore Judy has found new ways to champion Indigenous businesses, such as:


      1. Continuing to build and maintain relationships with Indigenous suppliers, even when there is no immediate plan to procure.
      2. Leave positive public reviews for Indigenous businesses on business review sites like Yelp.
      3. Encourage other regional institutional buyers to direct award to Indigenous businesses in their Indigenous Business Directory.

Dan Munshaw, Manager of Supply Management at the City of Thunder Bay reiterated the importance of the 4th CCSP sustainable procurement pillar, and the investment Indigenous procurement requires to further growth. Dan attributed the trust he has built with several Indigenous communities to at least three key steps:

      1. Do your homework; Learn about your local, regional and national Indigenous communities, and the historic and modern treaties that manage land claim agreements.
      2. Get out of the office; Take time to build relationships and attend local Indigenous celebrations or pow wows.
      3. Practice two eyed seeing; Commit to unlearning colonial practices and views and educate yourself on Indigenous values.

A common message both Judy and Dan shared is that policy without action will accomplish little, and in fact it might even negatively impact your relationships with the Indigenous businesses you hope to procure from. The key to sustained success is a relationship built on trust: thoughtful actions and advocacy within your organization for Indigenous businesses is a must.

CCSP Launches 12th Year of Operation to a Full House

CCSP cohort kicks off new year validating some old themes.


The CCSP kicked off its 2021 program with its first Peer Exchange webinar of the season on February 25th, featuring an assembly of almost 70 individuals representing organizations from coast to coast across Canada. Now in its 12th year of operation, the CCSP is a member-based network of 30 Canadian public sector institutions working together to align their spending with their values and sustainability commitments.


It was impressive to see how the broader sustainable procurement movement is growing in breadth and depth as members and guests engaged in lively discussion about some important elements of successful sustainable procurement. Members talked about taking a holistic, value driven approach to sustainable procurement that looks at the unique green, indigenous, social and ethical risks or opportunities that applied to their procurement objectives. We heard how important it is to follow a ‘two-track’ program that simultaneously works on building out the 10 elements of a successful program, while looking ahead to upcoming significant procurements.


Two CCSP members, the City of Winnipeg and the City of Nanaimo shared their individual Success Stories that are highlighted in the upcoming 2020 CCSP Annual Report. The City of Winnipeg used sustainability specifications within an RFP when looking to procure a fleet of multi-function printers and was impressed to receive sustainability features and services that more than met their targets at no additional cost over the previous contract. The City of Nanaimo saw an opportunity to create social value while addressing cleanliness issues by contracting with community groups with workers facing barriers to employment to clean up discarded needles and debris in the downtown area. A key message shared by both cities is that our communities, global and local, are counting on us to make positive change and that actions both small and large will get us that much closer to our sustainable goals.

Coming Soon…

Each year the CCSP produces an Annual Report that details the trends and best practices within sustainable public procurement in Canada. The 2020 Annual Report will be released soon to our members and will be made public in the coming month of April. Stay tuned for the biggest trends in sustainable procurement, inspiring success stories and CCSP updates from the past year.


The successful kickoff to the CCSP 2021 program has got us eager for more! We are looking forward to hosting CCSP members and some incredible speakers at our upcoming Peer Exchange webinar and many more to come. We hope to see you there!






Sustainable Procurement Events for your Spring Calendar

While we may be home-bound for a bit longer due to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean we can’t fill our calendars with opportunities to learn and be social! At Reeve, we’ve gathered a collection of top tier sustainable and procurement themed webinars that we are looking forward to and want to share in the anticipation.With eyes on the horizon for the return of in-person events, we have gained a new appreciation for the ease and accessibility online events can provide. Let’s make the most of it this spring and enjoy a few more online events we can attend in our lounge-wear!


Tips for Attending Online Events

Before the Event

  • Create at least one learning goal and one business development/networking goal.
  • If possible, identify 1-3 people, either speakers or other attendees you’d like to connect with.
  • Prepare 1-3 questions in advance, knowing these may change during the actual event.

During the Event

  • Ask your 1-3 questions. Adapt as required and don’t forget to mention where you are from.
  • Connect with other attendees, most online events will have a chat function, so don’t forget to introduce yourself and use it.
  • Make note of anyone asking questions relevant to your own work and try to connect with them through the chat.

After the Event

  • Connect with the speakers and other attendees on LinkedIn to keep the conversation going.
  • Summarize your main take-away’s / learnings from the event and share back with your team.


Thesis Live Webinar Series

The Sustainability Consortium, in partnership with SupplyShift are reviewing supplier engagement methods to provide sustainability performance insights into your own supply chain, and access data customers often want reported. The  three upcoming webinars in the series include:

1. Unlocking Supply Chain Transparency with SupplyShift’s Upstream Engagement Tools March 9th 

2. Tackling Food Waste in your Supply Chain March 11th 

3. Navigating your Renewable Energy Journey / April 13th


Buy Social Canada Symposium

Buy Social is hosting the return of their Canada Symposium on April 26th; an opportunity to learn and celebrate social procurement and the effects it has to shape economies and communities. This event will feature four diverse discussions led by leaders in social procurement, breakout themed networking sessions to allow for networking with other guests, and the Social Procurement Champion Awards to recognize organizations making admirable progress in social procurement across Canada.

Find out more and register here.



Procurement Leaders Innovation Series

In a four part series, the Procurement Leaders aim to provide the opportunity to optimize your current procurement strategies with a panel of expert global speakers. You can expect session formats from industry roundtables, micro breakouts, CPO spotlights and the opportunity to engage with other attendees.

1. Innovation in Positive Growth / March 16th – 18th 

2. Innovation in Resilient Supplier Networks / April 27th – 29th 

3. Innovation in Digitalization and Technology / May 25th – 27th 

4. Innovation in Asia Pacific / June 15th – 16th


CAMSC Diversity Procurement Fair 2021

The Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council is getting ready to provide you with some fresh insights from diverse businesses April 20, 21, 27 & 28. This interactive virtual conference will provide a platform for Canadian small businesses and exporters to connect with the U.S. and Corporate Buyers. Attendees can expect an export forum, industry focused panels, sourcing roundtables, matchmaking and networking events, all with the intention to further collaboration and brainstorming.

Find out more and register here.


Going Global


GLOBE Capital 2021

GLOBE Capital is hosting an impressive collection of North American and global leaders, investors, innovators, and policymakers at what is expected to be a conference that will accelerate transformation towards a cleaner economy on April 13th to 15th. This grand forum offers the opportunity to make connections through the matchmaking and networking program and learn about best practices and emerging policies.

Find out more and register here.


The United Nations 2021 SDGs Learning, Training, and Practice

The 2021 United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will be held from July 6th to July 15th. This series will include capacity building and knowledge learning sessions on topics related to the implementation of the SDGs under review. All sessions will be live-streamed, recorded and open to all participants.

Find out more information here.








Kickoff CCSP’s 2021 Program Year with a Welcome Webinar

Everyone is invited to this party! If you’ve ever wanted to learn what CCSP is all about then mark February 25th on your calendars! Guests are encouraged to attend the CCSP 2021 Kickoff Webinar for free; the first in a series of informative webinars that provide opportunities for networking, collaboration, and learning.


The CCSP will be hosting their first Peer Exchange Webinar on February 25th from 10am to 11:15am PST. Members and guests can expect to hear first-hand success stories from members who’ve implemented new sustainable policies and pilot projects and learn how the CCSP can help them achieve similar outstanding advancements within their own organizations.

This peer-based forum enables members to share information, access tools and resources, and track their progress as they develop sustainable policies, practices, and procedures. If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of being a member of the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement, follow this link.


The Kickoff Agenda

  • Meet returning and new members
  • Sneak a peek at the 2020 Annual Report launch
  • See success story highlights presented by members
  • Vote for topics of interest for upcoming Peer Exchanges and Working Groups

Who’s invited?

Everyone! Share this Eventbrite link with guests that would like to learn about upcoming CCSP programming and be introduced to a network of Canadian public-sector institutions who value a commitment to sustainable practices.

When and where?

The CCSP 2021 Kickoff Webinar is happening on February 25th at 10am PST. All event details can be found through this link.






CCSP’S New Sustainable Procurement Tools

How to bring your sustainable procurement plans and policies to life


Public sector organizations across Canada have levelled up their commitment to green, social, ethical, and Indigenous purchasing in 2020 with dozens of new plans and policies. For example, Halifax Regional Municipality approved a new social policy in May, City of Whitehorse updated their procurement policy to include sustainability in August, City of Victoria updated their bylaws to including new social procurement and Living Wage considerations in February, and BCLC and the City of Nanaimo created comprehensive sustainable procurement implementation plans from June to August, just to name a few. Many public sector organizations, however, are not yet equipped to ensure widespread adoption and operationalization of these new plans and policies. They need tools to bake sustainability into their various types of purchasing—RFPs, quotes, low-value purchases, and the like. And in 2020, it’s clearer than ever that time is of the essence.

With this in mind, members of the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement’s 2020 Working Group, decided to tackle this challenge. From April to November, Working Group members from Halifax Regional Municipality, City of Mississauga, City of Regina, the Government of Yukon, and Vancouver Coastal Health developed and piloted 3 new sustainable procurement tools and shared back their work and lessons learned to the wider CCSP community at the CCSP’s final Peer Exchange webinar of the year on December 3.

The Group’s goal was to build awareness around the benefits of tools, allow members to advance their program with minimal resources, and promote a united approach to sustainable procurement for CCSP members across Canada. Read on to hear more about what they accomplished!


What do sustainable procurement tools achieve?

Tools enable procurement staff and business units to take a standardized approach to sustainable purchasing in all types of purchases, including:

  • Identifying sustainability risks and opportunities related to purchasing products and services;
  • Establishing strong sustainability-related specifications;
  • Collecting and evaluating product/service- and enterprise-level sustainability information; and more.



What tools did the Working Group develop?


1. Sustainability Risk and Opportunity Assessment

Helps identify potential sustainability impacts before determining clauses and questions to include in solicitation documents. It provides a list of common sustainability issue areas and corresponding actions to take depending on their likelihood and severity.


2. Ecolabel Guide

Lists the most common ecolabels, provides information on how to assess the different types of ecolabels, and outlines tips for how to include ecolabels in solicitation documents. Tip: Type 1 ecolabels in solicitation documents help avoid greenwashing by ensuring third-party verification.


3. Supplier Leadership Questionnaire

Collects information to assess vendors’ enterprise-level sustainability. It includes a list of open-ended and yes/no questions as well as a list of supporting documentation vendors can provide to verify their claims. Supplier Leadership Questionnaires (or SQLs) are most often included as an attachment to RFPs but can also be used as a supplier engagement tool outside of formal RFx processes. For example, they can collect baseline data from vendors and inform performance management discussions.


Learn more about how and when to apply these new tools by downloading this Toolkit Overview.


What were the lessons learned?

Throughout the pilot, the Working Group garnered input from key stakeholders in their organizations, including senior leaders, buyers, sustainability staff, and contract managers from various business units. Here are their most salient lessons learned if you’re interested in implementing tools in your organization:

Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are already dozens of tools created by your peers and organizations like the CCSP. Save time and money by reaching out to your network to see what exists instead of developing tools from scratch.

Build a team. Create an internal working group with sustainable procurement champions to help inform tool development and implementation.

Engage users. Make sure to meet with potential users of the tools—understand their priorities, challenges, and lingo. Success will depend on your ability to speak their language!

Start small and iterate. Begin conducting pilot tests early on and stagger introducing the tool to new groups. Start piloting the tools with your working group, followed by a few ‘sustainability friendly’ buyers. Once you’ve refined your approach, you’ll feel more confident rolling it out to your entire buying team and then to all contract managers.

Prioritize high impact purchase categories. Create a tiered approach to implementation. Begin by using the tools on Tier 1 High Impact Procurement Opportunities—purchase categories that are high spend, high volume and/or of strategic importance for sustainability. Once staff become familiar with the tools, expand to Tier 2 and Tier 3 categories.

Train staff. Once you’ve piloted and finalized the tools, build a training and communications plan. Make it clear to staff that tools are now part of your procurement procedures. Outline their purpose and how and when to use them and provide training in different formats (e.g. recorded video demos, downloadable guides, 1-on-1 meetings, small group Lunch and Learns, etc.)


If the concept of sustainable procurement is new to your organization, it will be critical to educate your stakeholders on the basics before implementing new tools. This includes:

  • Educating staff on the business case and benefits of sustainable procurement;
  • Orienting staff to your organization’s sustainable procurement policy and strategy; and
  • Sharing how sustainable procurement supports other organizational policies and strategy (e.g. strategic plans, poverty reduction or climate action commitments, etc.).

Note: Sustainable procurement was new to many Working Group member organization and, as a result, we created educational resources like a list of sustainable procurement definitions and a short sustainable procurement training slide deck, which all CCSP members have access to as well.


What’s next?

The CCSP’s new sustainable procurement tools are now accessible to all 30 member organizations through the CCSP’s online Resource Library. Working Group members will be actively updating the tools based on user feedback and are interested in examining Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) tools and resources in 2021. In addition, CCSP staff are working with 2 UBC Sustainability Scholars to develop a Sustainable Procurement Guide for City Councillors and 10 Sustainable Product and Service Factsheets.


Want to get involved?

The CCSP is actively looking for more public organizations interested in implementing sustainable procurement in 2021. Find out more about us here and reach out to alyssa [at] reeveconsulting.com if you’re interested in joining our community.



None of this would be possible without CCSP’s Working Group volunteers (listed below) who convened throughout the year to advance thought-leadership and co-create these resources. Thank you all for your time and energy and congrats on this huge accomplishment!

  1. Andrea Westfall, Sustainable Procurement Coordinator at the City of Mississauga
  2. Edward Claringbold, Procurement Advisor at the Government of Yukon
  3. Jane Prior, Manager, Procurement at the Halifax Regional Municipality
  4. Sonja Janousek, Sustainability Manager at Vancouver Coastal Health
  5. Tammy Moyse, Procurement Manager at the City of Regina


Thank you also to Genevieve Russell, Projects Manager, Sustainability, at the City of Saskatoon who presented lessons learned from the City’s new Triple Bottom Line (TBL) risk-opportunity assessment tool! Read more about their award-winning TBL initiative here.


5 Tips for Buying Sustainable IT Products

Will you be writing RFPs for computers or printers in the next 3-6 months but are unsure of what sustainability criteria to evaluate? Do you have trouble understanding if your IT purchases are in fact the most sustainable options?


On November 5, 2020, members of the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) learn how to improve the social and environmental impact of their IT purchasing from expert speakers Clare Hobby, Director Purchaser Engagement at TCO Certified, and Frances Edmonds, Head of Sustainable Impact at HP Canada.

Find below a summary of tips to apply when purchasing IT materials for your organization.


1. Leverage independently verified certifications to avoid greenwashing  

Leverage certifications like TCO Certified, which independently verifies the environmental, ethical and social sustainability of computers, displays, mobile devices, and 5 other IT hardware categories.

Certifications do the hard work for you. TCO Development spent 200,000+ hours on verifying and certifying 3500+ models and 27 brands in 2019 alone—representing a total of 100+ million certified devices.

Want to learn more? Check out TCO Certified’s fact sheet, browse their product finder, and join their Basics for Purchasers webinar on November 18, 2020 for a live introduction and Q&A.



2. Ask IT companies to disclose their sustainability impact

According to TCO Certified’s Impacts and Insights Report on Circular IT Management in Practice, 86.6% of all emissions related to notebooks (or laptops) are associated with manufacturing and transportation so don’t stop at evaluating the product’s sustainability performance (see left). Assure that vendors are being transparent about their operational sustainability. Ask for an EcoVadis assessment, CDP scores, proof of material sourcing, and the like.

See examples of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) scoring of IT companies based on their water-, forest-, and climate-related performance.




3. Extend the IT product’s lifecycle

E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing waste stream with over 50 million metric tonnes generated annually and only 20% of the stream safely recycled. Avoid buying new if you can! Extend the lifecycle of your devices by ensuring products are highly durable, have standardized connectors, can be easily repaired, come with strong warranties, and ensure data can be easily wiped for reuse.

When possible, buy a service rather than a product. Suppliers then become responsible for repairing, reusing, and recycling the product!


4. Ask for post-consumer recycled content

When a sample of CCSP members were polled in the webinar, only 8% stated they asked for recycled content in their IT RFPs. The average percentage of post-recycled plastics in IT is 0-3%. Procurement can signal to suppliers to do more by asking about post-consumer recycled content, reducing plastics in our landfills, oceansnatural environment, and perhaps even our bodies. It is possible! In 2020, HP announced it aims to increase its use of recycled plastics from 9% now to 30% by 2025.


5. Don’t reinvent the wheel

There are tons of resources out there to help you along the way! Here are a few to get started:

  1. TCO Purchaser Guide
  2. WWF & HP Buying Responsibly Guide
  3. HP’s Sustainable IT Purchasing Guide
  4. Impacts and Insights Report – Circular IT Management in Practice
  5. HP’s Carbon Footprint Calculator





5 Tips for Measuring and Reporting Your Sustainable Procurement Progress

Do you have a sustainable procurement policy but struggle to make meaningful changes in how you buy? Do you have trouble understanding if your actions are positively impacting your community?

On October 15, 2020, members of the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) gathered to learn how to set, monitor, and report on their program performance from expert speakers Andrea Westfall, Sustainable Procurement Coordinator at the City of Mississauga and John Bys, Public Sector Specialist at EcoVadis. Find below a summary of tips to apply in your organization!


The Basics

Measurement and reporting allows you to take regular stock of your progress towards achieving your goals. An effective measurement and evaluation system:

  • Helps define sustainability within an organization,
  • Highlights what’s working well,
  • Identifies areas for improvement, and
  • Creates accountability for staff.


It’s imperative to set strategic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your overall goals. These KPIs fall into two categories:

1. Process indicators – how well an organization is aligning practices with your sustainable procurement strategy, action plan, and policy. For example, some may track percentage of bids included sustainability, number of supplier audits, or number of staff trained in sustainable procurement.

2. Outcome indicators – specific social, environmental, or economic impacts. For example, this could include number of jobs created or amount of waste diverted from landfills.


Under outcome indicators, you can choose to assess two different types of sustainability performance:

1. Product- or service-level sustainability – specific features of the purchase, such as toxic chemicals, recycled content, or number of people employed from a target group.

2. Enterprise-level sustainability – leadership practices of the organization as a whole, such as less waste in their dumpsters, less energy consumed, best practice health and safety policies, or diversity and inclusions practices, etc.


5 Tips for Measuring and Reporting


1. Start by assessing your reporting capabilities

Do you already have dedicated purchasing reports that collect useful data? What can you easily start monitoring? You’ll want to find a few initial KPIs to start monitoring ASAP.

Once those initial KPIs are being tracked, assess what’s possible in the medium- and long-term. Do you have the ability to request new reports? Do you have budget for a better reporting server or dedicated IT support? Choose your KPIs while keeping in mind that the cost of manually collecting data must equal the benefit of the KPI to your organization. If it’s not useful or meaningful to your team, leadership, Council/Board, or the public, it’s not likely something worth tracking.

If you’re a CCSP member, follow the lead of the City of Calgary who presents the CCSP’s Annual Report to Council, showcasing their benchmarking ratings and success story as a testament to their progress. No additional work necessary!


2. Move from process to outcomes indicators

Start by measuring process indicators. They are easier to track and will help show progress quickly. Outcome indicators are often harder to track and may require certain infrastructure and/or training to accurately measure.

The City of Mississauga launched Phase 1 of their Sustainable Procurement Implementation Plan in 2018. The Plan has three overarching goals and six objectives to help reach those goals. To measure how successful, they set and monitored 13 KPIs related to their goals and objectives. The focus is largely process outcomes such as the percentage of buyers, client departments staff, and suppliers trained. However, they included training outcome indicators using pre- and post-surveys to measure comprehension and likelihood to apply knowledge. As the implementation comes to a close, the City plans to integrate more outcome indicators for Phase 2.


3. Avoid greenwashing by leveraging third-party verification

According to a CCSP poll, 89% of members did not have a way of consistently measuring their suppliers’ enterprise-level sustainability practices, while the remaining 11% use self-report sustainability questionnaires. Leveraging third-party assessments, who collect and assess sustainability data from globally recognized sources, can:

  • Can validate and compare suppliers claims
  • Track suppliers’ results over time
  • Provide recommendations for improvement
  • Engage sustainable suppliers to further innovate

Learn more about EcoVadis in their 3-minute Ratings Solution Overview video, SPLC’s Whitepaper on Strategies to Maximize Engagement in Sustainable Public Purchasing EcoVadis’ library of sustainable sourcing resources for public actors.


4. Share info externally and internally

KPIs that no one looks at aren’t useful. Make sure you have a plan of how you’re going to communicate your results. Can they be integrated into existing reports and communications? Do you have an intranet with a section where they could be posted? Show your key stakeholders that your efforts are driving organizational goals. Use your results to inspire action and make a case for more resources.

At the City of Mississauga, these KPI’s are uploaded to an internal dashboard to create visibility. Approved staff have access to view the dashboard in real-time and data is pulled from here into larger reports. The dashboard in particular creates visibility for the work and provides proof of concept, answer questions like: What is the program for? Is time being used effectively? Are they on track to meet our goals? For greater accountability, visibility and impact, mandate annual public reports within your policy like the City of Vancouver or the State of Maryland.


5. Leverage success stories to go beyond the numbers

Collect and share engaging success story stories that include humor, graphics, and inspiring messages. This is a friendly way showcase progress to folks who aren’t used to looking at data all day. It will make your program come to life!

City of Mississauga shares success stories like it’s “Ice, Ice Baby” example whereby the fleet team used a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) tool to discover that purchasing electronic ice resurfacers was cheaper over the total lifespan and reduced it’s emissions by 832 tonnes (eCO2)—equivalent to taking 255 cards off the road.


Bonus Tip

It’s not enough to simply measure and report KPIs, you should review and update your KPIs as your expertise and program evolves and verify and benchmark your progress using third parties like the CCSP, SDGs, and SPLC to align with best practices.