Ethical Purchasing

Bittersweet on Easter Treats

As you plan ahead for your Easter weekend, you might be thinking about Easter egg hunts, or other chocolate goodies that the Easter Bunny will deliver. This year, go beyond planning strategic hiding spots, and consider thinking about the origin of the chocolate you purchase for your friends and loved ones.

Last week, CTV News ran an article called, “The dark side of Easter chocolate,” in which they detailed worrisome ethical concerns in the chocolate supply chain, including child labour and slavery, and a lack of sustainable income for many cocoa farmers in regions such as West Africa.

For those of us who want to feel good about our impact on others and the environment, this isn’t great news. However, you may not have to give up your annual hunt. One place to start is to look for the Fairtrade label when purchasing chocolate. Many companies, like Camino, Endangered Species, and others offer Fairtrade and sustainably-sourced chocolate Easter treats, and even large companies such as Cadbury, Nestle, and Hershey are taking steps toward stronger ethical and environmental performance.

To help you in your pursuit, CTV also cited two resources for finding ethical Easter chocolate: World Vision’s “The Good Chocolate Guide” and the “ChocoFinder” app that will help you find specialty chocolate stores selling ethical products in your area.

This year, look for chocolate that won’t compromise people or planet – we think that’s a decision you can feel really sweet about!

Not just another fluff piece

Winter is on the way and with it, racks and racks of high-end down filled jackets, slippers and blankets promising to keep you cozy all season long. Generally speaking these are high-priced items, but a recent article has left us wondering, what is the real cost of all this down?

A review of the video attached tells you everything you didn’t want to know about how down is usually sourced. None of it is surprising for anyone who is versed in large factory farming methods, but it’s sure to bring a chill to anyone cuddle up in their down duvet! Force feeding, plucked alive, terrible conditions all suffered by these harmless birds to keep us warm and cozy.

Enter Patagonia, an outdoor apparel company who has just launched its “Responsible Apparel” campaign along with its intention to offer Fair Trade Clothing. This week they announced the launch of Patagonia® Traceable Down. The company says that the birds are neither force feed for fois gras or plucked during their lifetime. In fact, Wendy Savage, social and environmental responsibility manager for Patagonia says “Patagonia’s traceability program is hands-on every step of the way. We begin our audit at the parent farm, where the eggs are laid, and follow it all the way to the garment factory, where the down is placed in our garments. We need to understand every single part of the supply chain – otherwise we can’t truly feel comfortable claiming the down as traceable.”

Down is lightweight and efficient insulation, with Patagonia creating and following these traceability standards; it is now sustainable and a lot more ethical. Considering it already has organic cotton and recycled polyester, they are leading the charge towards sustainable apparel and should be an inspiration to other companies to utilize the holistic model set forth by Patagonia.

New eLearning Tool for Sustainable Purchasing from Reeve Consulting

With supply chain transparency quickly rising as a corporate priority –private and public sector organizations are asking themselves how they can more effectively engage with their staff around important ethical and sustainable purchasing concepts.

That’s why a new eLearning tool called The Green Learning Centre is creating a buzz. Powered by Reeve Consulting, The Green Learning Centre is a unique online communication and training program that builds employee awareness and understanding of ethical, sustainable and green purchasing in a fast, fun and effective way.

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Sustainability at the 4th Green Sports Alliance Summit

Green Sports Alliance SummitI am excited to speak at the 4th Green Sports Alliance Summit http://summit.greensportsalliance.org/ on July 21-22 in Santa Clara, California. More than 600 industry stakeholders will be listening to 80+ industry leaders, discussing how companies can promote better environmental sustainability, engage in community outreach, and advance the green sports movement. Pivotal issues to be explored by a wide selection of dedicated individuals.READ MORE

Whole Foods Tops 2013 Seafood Retailer Scorecard

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According to the annual CATO Report recently published by Greenpeace, Whole Foods supermarkets has moved to the top of seafood retailers by focusing on the sustainability of their supply chain. The report outlines the current state of retail seafood and discusses the practices, both positive and negative, that are part of the supply chain that puts fish on grocery store shelves. Additionally, Greenpeace ranks the retailers on four criterion: policy, initiatives, transparency, and red list inventory (a list of 22 priority species).

Whole Foods captured the crown by reining in its seafood supply chain; reducing the number of red list fish, offering a selection of sustainable canned tuna, and introducing quantitative policies and initiatives that govern its purchasing decisions. Other notable grocers from this years report include Safeway, who came in second place with their goal of selling no unsustainable seafood by 2015, and Trader Joe’s, who improved from 15th in last year’s report to 3rd this year by significantly stepping up efforts in all four areas.

While there is still work to be done to implement sustainable seafood practices globally, all three of the CATO Report’s top retailers are actively reducing their environmental impact by developing and implementing a thorough sustainable purchasing policy. This is true in many other purchasing areas as well as seafood and can be applied to any business. Reeve Consulting has had experience helping our partners to build out and implement sustainable purchasing policies in dozens of those areas.

Buying Local Pays Dividends

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LOCO, in cooperation with Columbia Institute and ISIS Research Center at the Sauder School of Business recently released a report titled The Power of Purchasing that outlines the economic impacts of local procurement. This is a landmark study in the Canadian market conducted by Sauder MBA Alumni Anthony Pringle. While most would agree that purchasing locally has a positive economic effect, Pringle sought to quantify the effect by studying the economic effect that B.C. businesses could have by simply purchasing office supplies locally. Without getting into too much detail (read the report, it’s really well written), Pringle compared the economic effect of purchasing office supplies from a local supply company, Mills Basics, to that of purchasing from a national chain. He found that by employing the former, buyers were able to provide nearly double the economic benefit to the local B.C. community in the form of greater employment as well as higher tax revenue for the local government.

 

Although many companies still make purchasing decisions based on price alone, there are a growing number of values based organizations willing to look at the greater economic impact that buying can have. With reports like Pringle’s as ammunition for the fight, purchasing managers in Canada will undoubtedly have a greater opportunity to make the case for local buying.

Back by Popular Demand: Buy Smart Network Workshop – June 19, Vancouver

Back by popular demand, the next half-day session of Maximizing the Impact of Sustainable Purchasing will be held Wednesday, June 19 at the Tides Canada building in Vancouver.

Are you committed to sustainability but unsure of how it can be realized within procurement? Take away practical tools, approaches and learn of real-world case examples in sustainable purchasing during this practical and inspiring half-day session on sustainable purchasing!READ MORE

Loblaws and Joe Fresh waking up to more bad news

Every CEO wants to sit down with their coffee and open the paper to find their company making headlines – but not like this.

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Consumers across Canada are looking at the labels in their clothing and wondering if the t-shirt they put on this morning was made in Bangladesh and if the person that made it died yesterday in the catastrophic collapse of a garment factory in Dhakar.  Loblaws, the parent company of the Joe Fresh brand is scrambling to contain a public relations nightmare as word spreads that some of their garments were, in fact, made in that factory.

Loblaws had done its homework, they had audit systems in place to ensure that their clothing was made without child labour and with fair pay and decent working conditions.  But they forgot about the building.  No one thought to ask if the building itself was safe.  Creating comprehensive audits to protect the workers in your supply chain and your brand is what Reeve Consulting specializes in; it is our hope that by encouraging companies to engage in this dialogue and practice that future disasters can be avoided.

Introduction to Sustainable Purchasing Seminar – Nov. 2, Vancouver

Are you interested in sustainable purchasing but not sure where to start? Struggling with developing the business case? Wondering where to focus resources?

Acquire the knowledge and confidence to embrace sustainable purchasing practices in your organization by joining the BuySmart Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing sustainability in BC and beyond, November 2nd for the Introduction to Sustainable Purchasing seminar. This half-day seminar will focus on the fundamentals of sustainable purchasing featuring practical insights and lessons learned from professionals in the field.READ MORE

Sustainable Purchasing Supports Municipalities Green Strategies and Helps Manage their Bottom Line

Sustainable purchasing and supply chains are on municipal agendas across Canada. Increasingly, decision-makers are recognizing that sustainable procurement practices add value to their carbon neutral programs, zero waste goals, economic development opportunities, risk management, leadership, efficiency and innovation while positively engaging their staff and the communities they serve. Sustainable procurement practice is relatively new to municipal governance.

To efficiently manage the learning curve, municipalities are joining together. One successful example is the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP).  A newly released report from Reeve Consulting, The State of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada is co-authored with representatives of the MCSP. This report details the current state of sustainable purchasing practices in Canada including ratings and rankings of municipal programs from the MCSP’s member cities such as Halifax, Vancouver, Whitehorse, Grand Prairie, Guelph and Saskatoon.

The MCSP pilot project was formed in 2010 and currently members represent fourteen Canadian municipalities. By leveraging their collective experiences, knowledge and resources, they are strengthening their respective sustainable purchasing programs. The steering committee includes representatives from Whitehorse, Ottawa, Edmonton, London and Victoria. Five new members were welcomed in 2011.

The 2012 report, authored by Reeve Consulting and the MCSP, details their investigation into the depth of policy development and implementation across the country. Further, where there is under leveraging, what is holding municipalities back?  There are useful insights for municipal decision-makers, discussion of the top five emerging trends in this sector, and an overview of the main challenges and top priorities for 2012.

10 Key Program Areas for Successful Sustainable Purchasing

Municipalities fast tracking their efforts will find great value in the 10 Key Program Areas for Successful Sustainable Purchasing, which includes the ingredients for a comprehensive sustainable procurement program. One key element is developing a Supplier Code of Conduct. The City of Edmonton advanced the verification framework for their Supplier Code by providing public disclosure of their apparel factory locations. Training sessions were held in 2011 for staff of the City of Halifax introducing them to sustainable procurement concepts.

A clear demonstration of leadership is the collaboration between the City of Whitehorse and the Yukon Intergovernmental Committee on Environmental Sustainability. These, and other key program areas for successful sustainable purchasing, are presented in this report along with tangible examples of implementation.

Top 5 Emerging Trends in Municipal Sustainable Procurement

The State of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada features a detailed discussion of the Top Five Emerging Trends in Municipal Sustainable Procurement including supplier innovations, emerging social programming and collaboration building. Findings show that policy development is advancing and most municipalities are in the early stages of their strategic program development.

However, current resource levels, in comparison with expectations of the programs, are miss-matched. Sustainable purchasing programs have insufficient resources to capitalize on many opportunities. As a result, implementation of the majority of programs is still a challenge.

On the positive side, Finance and Sustainability Departments are increasingly realizing synergies between their financial objectives and sustainable procurement programs and are building powerful teams at the senior management and executive levels.

Despite solid progress in these areas, a major finding in The State of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada, is the disproportionate amount of time spent creating policies, procedures, tools and the capacity to implement sustainable procurement practices compared to the actual application. Another area where gains should be made is de-constructing robust measurement and reporting frameworks.

2012 Program for the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing: join us!

All local governments are encouraged to participate in the MCSP no matter the size of the community they serve. Current member municipalities send representatives such as a Director of Supply Management, Procurement Manager, Senior Environment or a Sustainability Manager.

All members participate in networking teleconferences, webinars and action planning sessions held over the course of each calendar year. They share sustainable procurement lessons, best practices and tools enabling them to streamline implementation of their municipal program development. A sustainable procurement expert facilitates each discussion, the training sessions and provides project secretariat services to the collaboration.

If you would like to join this project or require more information, contact Tim Reeve by email at tim@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.