Reeve Blog

Collaborating to Activate Social Procurement for Low Value Purchases across Canada’s Public Sector

Results of the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement’s 2019 Working Group

By Alyssa McDonald

 

Social procurement is a major trend in sustainable purchasing. It has been gaining ground to complement green purchasing as more public organizations consider how their buying power can positively impact the social wellbeing of their communities such as poverty reduction, economic and social inclusion, and local economic development.

Inspired by this momentum, the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement’s 2019 Working Group with members from Calgary, Victoria, Halifax, Edmonton and Mississauga developed and piloted a training program to encourage public credit card and p-card holders to include social value when making everyday purchases like catered meals, promotional materials, and contract labour/services.

They hoped to build awareness around the opportunities for purchases under procurement thresholds, give members tools to make an impact with minimal resources, and promote a united approach for MCSP members across Canada.

 

What is a Working Group?

The MCSP’s Working Group is made of volunteers from current member institutions interested in working together to advance thought-leadership and co-create resources on a topic of mutual interest. They convene for 5-6 facilitated meetings throughout the year and present their work to all members at our final Peer Exchange webinar.

 

How was social procurement defined?

The group’s definition of social procurement is best defined by the presentation itself (see image on right).

More specifically, it signifies purchasing goods and services from suppliers including social enterprises and suppliers that demonstrate best practices in:

  • diversity, inclusion, and accessibility of marginalized populations,
  • providing employment and training for youth and people with employment barriers (e.g. people with disabilities, new immigrants, chronically unemployed, ex-offenders, etc.),
  • offering full-time and living wage employment for marginalized and targeted populations,
  • considering social value in their production process (e.g. Fairtrade, B Corps, etc.), and/or
  • adopting advanced health and safety practices.

 

What did the Working Group accomplish?

The Working Group developed a 15-minute training on “Including Social Value in Your Low-Value Purchases” to deliver to p-cards and credit card holders in public organizations. The content included key definitions, the business case for social procurement, and how and when to consider social value when making a purchase. Additionally, it shared 4 recent social procurement success stories.

Once the training was complete, members tested it on nearly 40 staff across 4 cities – Victoria, Halifax, Edmonton, and Calgary – and used the feedback to finetune the content and create additional resources such as an FAQ document and a guide on “How to Find a Social Value Business”.

 

What did participants think?

Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive! They agreed (average score of 4.8/5) that the training:

  1. Enhanced their understanding of the concept and benefits of including social value in their purchases;
  2. Offered relevant information to help them include social value in their purchases; and
  3. Made them more likely to include social value considerations in their purchases.

Feedback forms included quotes like: “Learning about this topic and seeing that the city supports this initiative is making me think about how my section can improve. I hadn’t thought about my purchases like this prior!” and “I’m happy that the city is encouraging more sustainable and community-driven purchases rather than promoting buying whatever is cheapest!” Likewise, the success stories – like the one from Edmonton below – were often cited as insightful and motivating.

 

 

What’s next?

The training materials are shared with MCSP’s 20 member organizations through our online Resource Centre and are actively being updated with new success stories from across our network. Victoria and Halifax have formally integrated the new content into their staff training sessions and intranets… and we’re actively looking for more public organizations interested in implementing sustainable procurement in 2020!

This year, our network is relaunching as the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) to officially open our community to the entire public sector and offer more accessible pricing to smaller organizations. Find out more in our new program brochure and reach out to us if you’re interested.

 

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TRU launches next phase of sustainable procurement

This spring, the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) launched its latest Annual Report on the State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada containing 9 success stories from members including this story from Thompson Rivers University. Download the full report here

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is home to 14,000 students across several campuses in interior BC. TRU is proud of its platinum AASHE STARS sustainability score–the highest designation available–which credits its commitment to sustainable procurement. TRU will be releasing a new campus sustainability plan this fall.

Reeve kicked off the next phase of sustainable procurement work for TRU this week. We’ll be working with a variety of departments—from the Bookstore to Facilities and Operations—to define the highest impact procurement opportunities and align procurement with the environmental and social priorities emerging from the sustainability planning process. We’ll then develop product guides and an action plan, and bring buyers across campuses together for hands-on training.

This project builds on our work with TRU earlier this spring to develop a Sustainable Procurement Guidebook for buying staff at the university. The Guidebook offers simple decision frameworks, tools and resources on how to include sustainability within PCard, multiple quotes, and Request for Proposal procurement processes.

The Draft Guide was presented to TRU’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee in February 2019, and they were pleased with the results. Project lead Jim Gudjonson, Director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability observed that creating the Guide renewed the important conversation among key stakeholders about implementing sustainable procurement at TRU.

This second phase will now define the priority product and service categories for sustainable procurement and equip buyers across TRU’s campuses and regional centres with focused information and training on these procurement categories.

Lessons from Canada’s first Circular Procurement Summit

Photo by Elaine Somers.

 

The concept of a ‘circular economy’ is gaining attention as a way for society to increase prosperity, reduce consumption and minimize the creation of waste – especially for plastics – which have proven to be exceedingly difficult for producers and consumers to manage responsibly.

This growing emphasis on circularity is a thoughtful and necessary response to the traditional linear “take, make, dispose” model that starts with resource extraction and ends with waste. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, considered to be at the forefront of the promoting the circularity agenda, defines the circular economy as ”an economic and industrial system that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all time”.

It sounds good, and in our opinion, it makes total sense. These concepts, however, aren’t really new. Groups like the Recycling Council of BC (RCBC), Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) and many others have long promoted business practices and procurement programs that emphasize resource efficiency, leasing rather than owning and ‘buying recycled’. What’s new is the language. Terms like circular economy and circular procurement are helping bring more awareness and clarity to concepts like closed-loop systems and eco-efficiency – and that’s definitely a good thing.  We still need many more organizations using their procurement and buying power to send signals to the marketplace and stimulate massive changes in our supply chains and systems. In fact, we need more circular economies. We always have and the call to action is greater than ever.

So it was timely that Reeve Consulting was able to recently gather with over 100 buyers, suppliers, sustainability managers, waste reduction coordinators, innovation managers and other sustainable procurement stakeholders in Toronto, Ontario to attend Canada’s first ever Circular Procurement Summit hosted by RCO. It was a really first-class event both in terms of content and the quality of the speakers and presentations and also by the fact that over 50 stakeholders spent nearly three days discussing concepts, showcasing examples and connecting around common challenges. Kudos to RCO for pulling this off!

Experts like Cuno Van Geet and Mervyn Jones from Europe highlighted an impressive array of policies, programs and examples of circular procurement, including the well-known and inspiring program at the Schiphol airport, who has entered into a collaboration for the new lighting in the terminal buildings at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The light as a service means that Schiphol pays for the light it uses, while its supplier Philips remains the owner of all fixtures and installations. Philips and its partner Cofely will be jointly responsible for the performance and durability of the system and ultimately its re-use and recycling at end of life. By using energy-efficient LED lamps, a 50% reduction in electricity consumption will be achieved over conventional lighting systems.

Whether you call it sustainable procurement – as we tend to at Reeve Consulting, responsible procurement as our friends do at ECPAR or circular procurement, there’s consensus that whatever it’s called, it’s really about incorporating relevant specifications and criteria into the planning and procurement process so that we get off that tired and failed ‘take, make, waste’ economic model that has brought us into conflict with the earth’s natural limits.

Public institutions in Canada spend over $200 billion dollars annually on good and services. Sustainable procurement is one of the biggest levers we have to shift to a more circular economy. Let’s not let terminology get in the way of smart procurement. Let’s get on with doing the doing!

A Retrospective on the 2018 USA Special Olympics Games

It was great to see Lew Blaustein’s GreenSportsBlog post today that tells the story of our work to bring sustainability for the first time ever to a Special Olympics USA Games last July. It’s a nice prompt to share some lessons learned, now that the adrenaline rush of the Games is behind us. For this blog, I interviewed Tim Reeve to share some of his reflections.

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Sustainability Impact Report was released last December. It shares the sustainability vision and achievements of this incredible 11 day event that brought over a hundred thousand people to Seattle to cheer on athletes with intellectual disabilities (ID). The report showcases the thoughtful and integrated approach to sustainability that amplified the social goals of the Special Olympics as well as reduced its environmental footprint. We were particularly impressed with how the Games hardwired inclusion into its operations and procurement by providing training and work opportunities and hosting a Job Fair for athletes and others with ID.

The biggest lesson learned for the organizing team was to reach out to stakeholders early to build a relationship and enlist them in the in the Sustainability Program. According to Tim Reeve, “The Special Olympics is a natural platform for progressive brands. The trick to being successful is to build the sustainability brand into the DNA of the event early on in the process, so sponsors see the opportunities to showcase their sustainability performance.” In Tim’s experience, partners and Sponsors are looking for platforms that allow them to communicate positive messages about their brand and their social purpose. Many are willing to contribute financial and technical resources to help the Games’ Organizing Committee activate, implement, and expand their sustainability goals. At the 2018 USA Games, both Coca Cola and SourceAmerica delivered major social impact in providing employment opportunities for individuals with ID at the Games and promoting inclusive hiring through the Job Fair.

Finally, encouraging a focus on responsible sourcing by the Games’ Organizing Committee, partners and sponsors can make a huge impact on the overall sustainability of the event. “Engage vendors and suppliers as early as possible on your sustainability goals and get some firm commitments,” Tim advises. “Planning for sustainability too late in the Games’ cycle means lost opportunities with sponsors, suppliers, staff, and volunteers.”

Reeve Consulting is a sustainability strategy firm that has worked with a wide variety of organizations to design and implement sustainable procurement strategies and programs, including the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Canada Winter Games and the recent 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. We help our clients create winning Sustainability Strategies with clear impact goals and sourcing strategy that brings on side the creative solutions and full potential of their supply chain partners.

Banning Straws Won’t Save our Planet; But Changing Attitudes Just Might

Already following the plastic straw ban in Seattle,  Washington we’ve seen Disney, Starbucks, and several other companies come forward with similar bans. And while we applaud the efforts of these companies as they continue their “journey of environmental stewardship” (in the words of Disney), we need to remind ourselves what the real problem is that we’re trying to solve.

The truth is that plastic straws are estimated to be a mere 0.03 percent of ocean plastic waste. While straws have enormous potential to cause harm to wildlife, the real concern regarding ocean waste is the huge amount of abandoned fishing debris (estimated to be 46% of all ocean waste) as well as the huge volumes of plastic bags and plastic bottles creating floating islands of debris all over the world. In reality, our consumer attitudes towards the convenience of single-use items and our misplaced belief that we can compost or recycle our way out of this eco-dystopia, is really the more substantive issue.

That’s why I was so impressed to be included in the team working on the Sustainability Program for the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games held in Seattle earlier this month. Once again, a mega-sporting event (4,000 athletes, 14,000 volunteers, nearly 100,000 spectators) demonstrated that it’s the sustainability legacy that matters just as much and probably far more, than the impact of ‘greening’ initiatives. Listen to this school teacher from Oklahoma in the associated video– her story confirms that by attending the Games, being exposed to the Sustainability Program, and being inspired by the greening activities (even straw bans) means that she’s changed her attitude. Even more significantly, she’ll be taking home these inspirations to share with school kids and others – with enormous potential impact on progression!

So, we encourage corporate groups to continue their efforts to reduce their eco-impacts and transition to a more circular form of economy. No doubt every little bit helps. But let’s remember what really matters – capturing the hearts and minds of everyone around us to make those small and big shifts that can really tilt the difference to a sustainable future.

 

Reeve helps Special Olympics Seattle 2018 set new sustainability benchmark

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On July 1, 2018 something very exciting will be happening in Seattle, and at Reeve we’re excited to be a part of it!  The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games opens, showcasing the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. Reeve Consulting has been working closely with the Special Olympics USA Organizing Committee (SOUSA) to help them become the first Special Olympic Games to develop and deliver on a Sustainability Strategy.

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Now Available: State of Sustainable Purchasing in Canada 2017 Report

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) are pleased to release our eighth annual MCSP State of the Nation Report. The report highlights MCSP achievements this year, as well as the latest trends and current sustainable purchasing (SP) experience of Canadian municipalities, educational institutions and an airport authority.

MCSP is a member-based network of Canadian public-sector institutions working together to deliver better services and achieve better value through sustainable purchasing. Our member organizations meet virtually several times per year to share information, collaborate on tool development, and exchange lessons learned related to mitigating risks and improving social and environmental outcomes by considering sustainability risks in the procurement process.

Over 2017, MCSP Working Groups collaborated to create supplier engagement and monitoring and evaluation tools, while members individually advanced sustainable purchasing in their organizations. Read the report for stories on how members are making an impact by greening laboratories, reducing packaging materials, using energy more efficiently, buying sustainable swag, enhancing job security, implementing a Living Wage Policy and achieving Fair Trade Town certification.

Major Sustainable Purchasing Trends

  • Social purchasing is gaining ground to complement environmental purchasing as more public organizations are considering how their procurement can positively impact the social wellbeing of their communities
  • Organizations are striving to align and integrate SP from corporate strategy to SP policies and tools
  • Organizations are investing in training and communication towards building cultures of embedding sustainability thinking into purchasing decisions for all staff, as the default way to buy
  • Organizations are using certification systems and developing partnerships with universities, social enterprises and other organizations to achieve SP impact
  • More organizations are creating dedicated Sustainable Purchasing roles to realize their SP goals

Download the full report here, and contact us if you are interested in learning how you can join the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP).

New UN Report Showcases Sustainable Public Procurement Practices Around the Globe

Version 2The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released the 2017 Global Review of Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP), which provides and in-depth look at how governments and public institutions around the world are improving the sustainability of their supply chains and procurement practices.

Building on the first Global Review, published in 2013, this report draws on research conducted in 2015 and 2016 to present a comprehensive picture of global progress in advancing SPP and to elucidate the opportunities, needs, challenges, and innovations in SPP in the last five years.

The 2017 Global Review is unique in its breadth of coverage on SPP, incorporating thoughts, opinions, and data from more than 200 stakeholders across 41 countries. The report found that, although there continue to be significant challenges, awareness and implementation of SPP principles continues to grow around the world. Countries are working toward implementing SPP mainly through capacity-building activities for staff and stakeholders, and through integrating SPP principles and practices into existing procurement and management-related processes, procedures, and tools.

The report also discusses persistent challenges related to SPP implementation, including the perception that sustainable products are more expensive and a lack of expertise on sustainable purchasing. Countries are actively working to overcome these challenges, particularly through awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing activities.

Reeve is proud to have been a part of this project, which will be a useful source of information and experience on SPP, and can contribute to greater implementation and ultimately greater impacts through sustainable procurement activities.

The 2017 Global Review was published as part of UNEP’s 10YFP Programme on Sustainable Public Procurement, a “global multi- stakeholder platform that supports the implementation of SPP around the world. The Programme builds synergies between diverse partners to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target on SPP, i.e. to promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities. The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) leads the 10YFP SPP Programme with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI) as co-leads.”

lululemon’s Sustainable Purchasing Journey

lululemon’s 2016 work on improving the sustainability of their supply chain was recently profiled in the purchasing publication, Purchasing B2B. Reeve worked with the Vancouver-based fitness and lifestyle apparel company to deepen the integration of sustainability into their operational purchasing procedures, and to create tools to help buyers accomplish this.

lulu

Responsible Supply Chain features prominently on lululemon’s sustainability page

Julie Strilesky, Sustainability Operations Manager for lululemon, reported to Purchasing B2B that since making the changes, “nearly a dozen projects will have sustainable criteria incorporated into the products and services being purchased.”

The changes lululemon has incorporated into operational procurement have empowered purchasing team members to capitalize on sustainability opportunities, and have increased collaboration between the sustainability and procurement teams. Their journey so far has already imparted several key lessons, including the importance of engaging early in the procurement process, to ensure that sustainability can be adequately integrated, as well as how vital it is to build relationships with decision-makers across the organization to gain buy-in and traction.

Most importantly, lululemon recognizes that sustainable purchasing is a journey, and they are looking forward to many impactful successes to come.

Colliers Project Leaders Sustainability Impact Report: a new wave of sustainability reporting

Colliers Project Leaders, the project management branch of parent-company Colliers International, recently released their Sustainability Impact Report, which introduces a bold way of thinking about corporate sustainability reporting that goes beyond a traditional exclusive focus on internal operations.

When it came to producing a sustainability report, Colliers Project Leaders elected to take a step back and evaluate exactly where their material (that is, significant or important) sustainability impacts reside. Although they knew they wanted to track their internal paper use, the greenhouse gas footprint of their own offices, and other impacts of their operations, they realized that this would omit two important spheres of sustainability influence in which they operate.

Colliers Project Leaders’ main innovation is to acknowledge that they share responsibility for the ultimate sustainability impacts of their projects.

A materiality assessment they conducted revealed that, in terms of the importance to both their stakeholders and to their company, they had to take a good look not only at the company’s sustainability impacts in terms of their operations, but also sustainability as it relates to both their people, and the projects that they manage (see below). Thus, they reported upon sustainability in three categories: “Our Operations,” including governance, environmental footprint, and community contributions, “Our People,” including safety, health, wellness, and opportunities for professional development and volunteerism, and “Our Projects,” including client satisfaction, sustainability in their processes, community and user impacts, and ultimately advocacy for the future of sustainable building.

CPL materiality

Colliers Project Leaders’ main innovation is to acknowledge that they share responsibility for the ultimate sustainability impacts of their projects. As a project management firm that manages hundreds of large capital projects each year, Colliers Project Leaders recognizes that they are in the position to help their clients see the benefits of working in line with circular economy principles throughout the process, from design and procurement, to execution, and of ensuring that community members and end-users are appropriately consulted so that projects are carried out to benefit stakeholders to the maximum extent.

Although Colliers Project Leaders does not have all of the data or all of the answers just yet, they have committed to advocating for an environmentally and socially regenerative economy through the building projects they manage – and we think that sets them up for leadership and success.