Announcing Reeve’s ReSOURCE: sustainable purchasing insights from the Reeve Consulting Team

Reeve's ReSOURCEThe most recent edition of our new e-newsletter, Reeve’s ReSOURCE, was recently circulated. If you missed it in your inbox, you can view a copy HERE.

Through this newsletter we’re offering useful insight in sustainable supply chain trends, innovations, key findings from industry sector reports and provocative opinions.

We want Reeve’s ReSOURCE to be more than just a hub of what we’re tracking in the fast moving world of responsible purchasing and ethical sourcing. We also want to answer your key questions and incorporate your best practices, making it a dynamic resource for sustainable supply chain executives and managers.

View a couple previous editions HERE. If you like what you see, sign-up HERE to have future editions delivered directly to your inbox.

We really appreciate you feedback on the newsletter and our projects, so please let us know what you think by sending an email to tim@reeveconsulting.com, or posting a comment below.

Reeve Insights from Sustainable Brands 2011

Flickr / kevincole

Corporate America was out in full force at Sustainable Brands 2011 (#SB11) recently held in Monterey, CA, and so were we!

Bringing together concepts of business strategy, sustainability and innovation, the 4-day event focused on the connections between sustainability as a driver of product design as well as a mechanism for engaging with customers and employees.

We had a great time, made some wonderful connections and were exposed to inspiring initiatives and concepts in the realm of corporate social responsibility.

Below we’ve summarized a few of our insights.

Sustainability case studies – a closer look at some inspiring initiatives

While the week was full of inspiring sustainability stories, there were a few case studies that particularly stood out for us (click on the links for more information).

  • Panera Bread, pay-what-you-can model – This American restaurant chain allows customers to choose the amount they pay for their meals. CEO Ronald Shaich shared that 20% of his customers pay more than the suggested donation while 20% leave less. By opening stores in diverse communities, Shaich has found higher-income people will offset the costs for their lower-income neighbours.
  • Hewlitt Packard, building the energy-smart home – Taking a closer look at home energy management, HP Labs has developed sensing technology and a cloud-based application that clearly illustrates a home’s energy use, allowing homeowners to easily monitor and manage energy consumption from their dishwasher to TV.
  • Nike, better world project – Earlier this year Nike launched the website nikebetterworld.com which highlights the company’s green programs such as the use of environmentally preferred rubber, jerseys made from recycled bottles, responsible packaging and more. The site also highlights the value of sport for addressing social issues, like HIV AIDS, obesity, even war.

Supply chains are a sustainability starting point

Supply chains were a prominent topic of discussion throughout the event and we were pleased to hear our colleagues recognizing supply chains as a key starting point for driving sustainability both vertically, through a business, and horizontally with customers.

One of the most encouraging supply chain initiatives we heard about was the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the goal of which is to improve the sustainability of apparel and footwear products by developing an industry-wide index for businesses to measure and evaluate their products’ social and environmental impacts. By pooling resources and knowledge, member companies hope to develop more sophisticated and uniform tools for evaluating their supply chains and engaging with suppliers on improvements. Founding members include Patagonia, Nike, Levis, Gap Inc., Mountain Equipment Co-op, Environmental Defense Fund and many others spread across North America, Asia, Europe and the U.K.

Collaboration is making sustainability initiatives stronger

As demonstrated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, we found that collaboration was a strong theme throughout the event.

We attended a great session by Bonnie Nixon, Executive Director of the Sustainability Consortium, a mixed-discipline group that develops READ MORE

Who do you want to hear from? Call for guest speaker suggestions

Reeve Consulting is partnering with Social Accountability International to deliver SA8000 training, August 22-26 at SFUSocial Accountability International (SAI) Harbourfront in Vancouver.

A fantastic opportunity to develop your expertise in managing CSR initiatives, SA8000 is the leading global social accountability standard for decent working conditions and labour rights. This week-long training will provide practical knowledge on the main issues of social auditing and performance and is targeted at a wide audience including sustainability directors, brand managers, auditors, NGO and government staff, among others.

fork, knife, spoon

Flickr / Tanel Peets

In conjunction with the training, we’ll be hosting a dinner and networking event on August 25.  The event will include a guest speaker who will share their extensive experience in global supply chain compliance and implementation of supplier codes of conduct.

In preparation for this networking event, we’re requesting your input:

If there were one person we could bring to Vancouver this year to speak about responsible sourcing, ethical consumerism and sustainable supply chains, who would you like to hear from?

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All answers will be kept private to the Reeve Consulting team.

Thank you in advance for your input!

Sustainable Purchasing Video demonstrates new media opportunities for staff communication & training

Engaging staff in the art and science of sustainable purchasing is a challenge for any organization – so we were thrilled to see this short video from the City of Edmonton (a Reeve Consulting client) which is a great example of staff communication techniques and a cost-effective approach to making green and sustainable purchasing meaningful and tangible for City employees.

The 4 minute video is targeted at administrative and general office staff across the organization and it communicates 3 simple sustainable purchasing guidelines. The video and outreach campaign is part of a broader communication and training strategy that was developed by Reeve Consulting for the City of Edmonton as part of the City’s new comprehensive green and ethical purchasing program that is considering the social and environmental effects of their more than $1 billion annual spend.

Featuring faces from across Edmonton’s municipal departments (including the City’s mayor!), the video explains why selecting products that are environmentally responsible, ethically sourced and feature minimal packaging, helps save money, improve efficiencies and make the City of Edmonton’s operations more sustainable.

Watch the short video on the City of Edmonton’s website by clicking the image below.

City of Edmonton sustainable purchasing video

Click on the image to view the full video at edmonton.ca

Social Accountability 8000 Introduction & Basic Training comes to Vancouver – join us!

Are you interested in becoming a leader in social supply chain compliance? Interested in a way to both enhance your career and help your organization stand out as a leader in corporate social responsibility?

Social Accountability International (SAI)We have just the thing! Reeve Consulting is excited to be partnering with Social Accountability International (SAI) to deliver SA8000 training August 22-26 at SFU Harbourfront in Vancouver.

SA8000 is the leading global social accountability standard for decent working conditions and labour rights. Overseen by SAI, SA8000 is an auditable certification standard system based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child and a number of International Labour Organization conventions. Today 1.3 million workers are employed in over 2,300 SA8000 certified facilities in 62 countries.

Develop your expertise in managing CSR

The SA8000 course provides practical knowledge on the main issues of social auditing and performance, using the SA8000 management systems approach. More specifically, the training covers:

  • Key concepts and background on social compliance in the supply chain and social auditing, and how they can help you improve your CSR program
  • Understanding the elements of the SA8000 standard and how they can be used to enhance your supply chain efficiencies and social compliance
  • Reviewing solutions that will help you overcome common compliance challenges
  • Effective auditing techniques that can be used to verify your supplier’s compliance with international labour standards
  • Effective methods for managing risk in facilities, or across an entire supply chain, which can result in cost savings for your organization and your suppliers

The guidance document, in-depth case studies, virtual factory tours and highly interactive group exercises allow for hands-on learning and practical application methods and tools.

The course concludes with a comprehensive exam and students who successfully pass are awarded a Certificate of Successful Completion.

Who should attend?

Targeted at a wide audience, the course has previously drawn auditors, social compliance staff, sustainability directors, brand managers, retailers, manufacturers, government officials, academics, trade union and NGO representatives among others.

Whether you’re currently employed as a social compliance auditor or aspire to be more active in this field, this training is aimed at enhancing your expertise in managing corporate social responsibility performance and supply chain efficiencies by aligning them with international labour standards.

Vancouver mountains

Flickr / D'Arcy Norman

This is the only SA8000 Basic Training to be held in North America in the remainder of 2011. We encourage you to sign-up now to reserve a seat.

  • Date: August 22-26, 2011 (Monday-Friday 9am-6pm)
  • Location: SFU Harbourfront Centre (515 West Hastings St.), Vancouver, BC
  • Price: $1995 (credit card or wire transfer accepted)
  • Online registration: http://www.socialfingerprint.org/enrollment.html (enter the coupon code ‘ReeveVan2011’ and receive a discount on the Thursday night networking event – details below)

Networking Event – Thursday, August 25

red wine glass

Flickr / jenny downing

In conjunction with the SA8000 training, Reeve Consulting will be coordinating and hosting a dinner and networking evening on Thursday, August 25.

The evening will featuring a high-level guest speaker who will share their experience in managing a leading global supply chain compliance program. This event will provide an excellent opportunity to connect with sustainable purchasing professionals from across North America and to learn from others experiences.

Stay tuned for details as we’ll be announcing them here on our blog as the date approaches.

Whitehorse Wins Award for Sustainable Purchasing

Flickr / Larry 1732

We were delighted to hear that the City of Whitehorse recently received a Yukon Sustainable Community Award, in part for their work with the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP), a project facilitated by Reeve Consulting.

The MCSP is comprised of a group of Canadian municipalities that are leveraging their collective experiences, knowledge and resources to strengthen their respective sustainable purchasing programs. Started as a pilot project in 2010, the group just started their first year of full-fledged programming including peer exchange teleconferences, technical training webinars, customized action planning and more.

Participating municipalities include Vancouver, Ottawa, Guelph, London, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Olds, Wood Buffalo, Halifax and others.

“Through working with these other municipalities the City is able to tap into vast amounts of research and experience not available to us individually,” said City of Whitehorse Sustainability Projects Manager, Shannon Clohosey. “Working with other municipalities has already assisted a number of City projects, including work to extend the life cycle of our computer equipment and ensuring that many of the items we purchase are made from recycled materials.”

Local governments of all sizes are invited to participate in the MCSP. If you’re interested in joining the project, or would like more information, please contact Tim Reeve at tim@reeveconsulting.com or Kevin McCarty at kevin@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.

GoodGuide.com for Sustainable Purchasing Programs

Good Guide

Our clients regularly ask us where they can find a list of green products or sustainable suppliers. While there is no silver-bullet-one-stop shopping list for ethical and sustainable options, there are an increasing number of online tools to help buyers evaluate the environmental and social attributes of products.

While these tools are user-friendly and convenient (often accessible from mobile devices) they’re only useful if they draw from credible data.

Recently at Reeve Consulting we’ve been investigating GoodGuide.com, an online database of information on the health, environmental and social impacts of over 100,000 consumer products.

While the GoodGuide is mainly targeted to consumer audiences, we see some value in this tool for corporate purchasers, and even more so for staff at large in organizations with a sustainable purchasing policy.

Where we see this tool could be particularly useful is for staff making smaller, un-tendered purchases. For example, an administrative employee buying office or cleaning supplies may find it useful to compare attributes of one product to another to determine which is greener or healthier.

What is the GoodGuide?
GoodGuide is an online platform that allows user’s to search specific products to find a rating based on health, environment and society measures attributed to the product or manufacturer. An overall rating for each product is provided, and user’s can drill down for specifics on health and sustainability features by clicking on a rating for more details.

Screen shot of Dawn ultra-concentrated dish soap on GoodGuide.com

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10. A score of 10 means the product rates very well relative to other products in a category or other companies in an industrial sector.

Similar to the EnerGuide label on appliances, GoodGuide doesn’t approve or certify products as meeting specific sustainability standards, it only provides information that can be used to compare one product to another.

Highlights of the GoodGuide
A major strength of the GoodGuide is that it’s easy to use. Primarily, directed at the consumer market, with a mission to help consumers make purchasing decisions that reflect their preferences and values, the tool has been set-up with a user-friendly interface and colour-coded rating system. There’s also a GoodGuide’s smart phone app, which allows one to access the full product database from the shopping aisle by simply scanning product barcodes.

Mobile barcode look-up; Flickr / Lauren C.

Another benefit purchasers will find with GoodGuide is that it covers many more products than those qualifying for ecolabels. At the same time, if a searched product does feature an ecolabel, this information is shared in GoodGuide’s product description.

Regarding the data behind the ratings, GoodGuide conducts regular stakeholder consultation and relies on third-party experts to develop and continuously improve their rating and metrics system. Their executive team and advisors are leading academics in product lifecycle analysis and other related fields, which brings some added credibility to the tool. Further, GoodGuide clearly outlines their data quality control procedures and acknowledge where there are gaps in data and value judgments.

B CorporationAs an organization, GoodGuide is certified as a “for Benefit” Corporation by BCorporation, a recognized body which provides third-party verification of GoodGuide’s sustainability and transparency performance. It requires that GoodGuide meet a comprehensive set of transparent social and environmental performance standards. As a result, GoodGuide has made their metrics and ratings system publicly available, which provides legitimacy to their rating system for products.

Areas for consideration
Recognizing that the GoodGuide is a relatively new tool, we’re impressed by the large number of products that have been rated to date and the level of information we’re able to access. As the GoodGuide continues to develop, there are a couple areas where we feel the tool could be strengthened.

From early use with the tool we found that the transparency of raw data behind the ratings could be improved. While it appears you can take an extra step to contact GoodGuide and request detailed data for a given product, we’d prefer that the data be easily accessible, in real-time, while using the tool online.

Another area where we feel there’s some room for improvement is in GoodGuide’s social ratings. Currently the tool appears to take corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance for companies and apply it at the product-level. For example, a company’s support of local community groups could be recorded as a social impact of a product produced by that company, even if the two aren’t directly related.

We believe this approach could be improved, and that presenting the social impact of a product requires a look at the social impacts of the given product’s supply chain. We encourage GoodGuide to develop social supply chain criteria (similar to the Fair Trade model) rather than apply general company CSR performance to individual products.

No replacement for ecolabels, but a useful tool
Overall, companies and organizations with a sustainable purchasing program will find GoodGuide useful for initial product research and informing less formal purchasing decisions.

While use of the GoodGuide can’t replace consideration of ecolabel certifications for mandatory product specifications, it may facilitate initial product research and help engage more staff by making daily sustainable purchasing decisions easier.

Let us know in the comments section below if you’ve had a chance to use the GoodGuide. If so, what has your experience been? Where did you find it useful? What do you feel could be improved?

Canucks’ Power Play takes aim on Sustainability

Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks

Flickr / pointnshoot

What a tremendous third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and fantastic game on Sunday. In case you missed it, our local Vancouver Canucks were victorious with a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, putting them just 1 win away from the Stanley Cup Finals! It’s all people can talk about around here.

The team at Reeve is similarly caught up in all things Canucks, so we’re focusing this week’s post on the team’s recent commitment to the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the environmental impact of professional sports while engaging fans with environmental education.

Mass sporting events and sustainability

The Green Sport Alliance (GSA) was started in 2010 with founding members from six different North American professional sports teams – the Vancouver Canucks (NHL), Seattle Storm (WNBA), Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) and the Seattle Sounders FC (MLS). Over the past year staff from these teams and venues have been focusing on sharing experiences, lessons learned and creating practical metrics.

Rogers Arena Vancouver Canucks warm-up

Flickr / Dahlstrom

At Reeve Consulting we feel the Canucks support of the GSA is great news. A main take-away from our experience working with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games is the tremendous power of mass sporting events to engage a broad, global audience on key sustainability issues. From green building projects to the stories of sustainable athlete gifts and locally sourced victory bouquets, the sustainability initiatives of the Vancouver Olympics were a valuable side story to the 2010 Games.

While we welcome a North American network that blends environmental responsibility with professional sport interests, the Canucks and other teams need to walk the talk and show results.

What could sustainability success look like for the Canucks?

We’ve seen some commendable initiatives from professional teams like the Seattle Mariners, who among other projects have dramatically increased their stadium waste diversion rate and reduced their water usage. The Philladelphia Eagles have ambitious plans to power Lincoln Financial Field solely with on-site renewable energy by September 2011.

Building off our work with VANOC and more recently with the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, we have plenty of ideas for how the Canucks could make a real impact with their sustainability measures.

Vancouver Canucks merchandise

Flickr / Cindy Andrie

From introducing a comprehensive zero waste program in Rogers Arena, to taking a closer look at food and catering services, energy and water use, there’s plenty of potential for making the team’s operations more eco-efficient.

We would encourage the Canucks to view sustainability as more than environmental initiatives, and consider opportunities for further social investments. Canucks merchandise should be made free of child labour, and the team should be looking closely at the labour practices employed in their merchandising program supply chain. Closer to home, possible opportunities lie in structuring employment opportunities for people with disabilities, profiling local suppliers, and getting high profile Canucks to act as “green ambassadors” in the community.

We believe in our Canucks and are confident they will triumph in the end; they already have a fantastic image in the community through their valuable sponsorship and involvement with charities that support children’s health, wellness and education.

Green Sport Summit, Portland, August 1

Reeve is planning to attend the GSA’s inaugural event, the Green Sport Summit being held August 1 in Portland, and looks forward to hearing more about the plans for this group. Following the event, we’ll be sharing our insights here.

Go Canucks Go, CBC

Flickr / roland

While the full impact of green sport initiatives is yet to be seen, we feel there’s a lot of opportunity given the diversity of audiences sport draws.

In parting, we’ll leave you with this thought – 26.5 million, or 80% of Canadians watched some part of the Canadian gold medal hockey game during the Vancouver Winter Olympics – imagine the potential for public engagement if Team Canada’s victory had been accompanied by a call to action for Canadians to make a simple environmental commitment!

Go Canucks go!

New Report Reveals Trends & Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing and Ethical Sourcing

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing recently released the first annual Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report, the most comprehensive discussion of municipal sustainable purchasing and ethical sourcing in Canada to date.

Beyond revealing key trends across the country and valuable best practices, the report offers a national snapshot of how Canadian municipalities are implementing sustainable purchasing programs.

Complete with a listing of common program barriers and recommended solutions, the report is a valuable resource for municipal decision-makers looking to implement impactful sustainable purchasing programming.

>> Download the Summary Report.

The full report is available from Reeve Consulting by request at tim@reeveconsulting.com or 604-763-6829.

Status of municipal sustainable purchasing in Canada

Sustainable purchasing has become a hot topic in the municipal sector. Few other internal sustainability initiatives can directly contribute to multiple civic agendas around zero waste, climate leadership, economic development, staff engagement, risk mitigation, improved operational efficiencies and cost reductions.

While comprehensive sustainable purchasing is still a relatively new field for local governments, municipalities are finding the support they require through the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP). Formed in 2010 as a pilot project, the MCSP is comprised of a group of Canadian municipalities that are leveraging their collective experiences, knowledge and resources to strengthen their respective sustainable purchasing programs.

The Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report documents the great wealth of expertise shared by these and other local governments, pulling from them practical insights for municipalities looking to advance their sustainable purchasing practices.

Emerging Trends in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Key findings of the study show that municipalities continue to give priority to environmental issues over social or ethical considerations. The study also found that achieving some noteworthy early returns on investment, particularly a strong financial return, is key for generating momentum and further senior support for the advancement of sustainable purchasing practices. Municipalities say that their efforts are focused on developing realistic annual action plans, implementing policies or guidelines and collaborating with others to share experiences and resources.

Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Readers wanting to fast track their efforts will find great value in the report’s identification and description of the 10 Program Success Factors required to maximize the impacts and benefits of sustainable purchasing.

Among these elements are following a written action plan, defining a clear sustainable purchasing policy and product guidelines, developing supplier scorecards and Codes of Conduct that outline fair labour standards, providing adequate training for purchasing and staff and engaging directly with suppliers in sustainability conversations.

These and more best practices are discussed in detail in the summary and full report.

Municipalities team up to overcome the challenges

The release of the report also marks the first year of full-fledged programming for the MCSP, which through its collaboration and resource sharing programs will help participating municipalities address challenges and priorities raised in the 2010 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report. This includes seeking goods and services that conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize waste, as well as increasingly using scorecards and eco-labels to evaluate suppliers based on multiple social and environmental measures.

Key activities and tangible deliverables for the MCSP in 2011 include:

•          4 best practices peer exchange teleconferences

•          2 technical training webinars on focusing specific best practices

•          The 2011 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report

•          Individual customized action planning sessions for each municipality

•          Access to a helpful resource library

Fast Track your Municipal Sustainable Purchasing Program – join the MCSP

Local governments of all sizes are invited to participate in the MCSP. If you’re interested in joining the project, or would like more information, please contact Tim Reeve at tim@reeveconsulting.com or Kevin McCarty at kevin@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.

The MCSP project is led by a steering committee comprised of the cities of Edmonton, Ottawa, London, Whitehorse and Victoria and is being facilitated by Reeve Consulting.

This Mother’s Day, ask for fair flowers

Kevin McCarty, a consultant with Reeve Consulting, recently wrote the following article for the Commentary section on the straight.com

photo courtesy of Kevin McCarty

A day or two prior to Mother’s Day, flower shops across Canada will sell more flowers than any other time of the year, apart from Valentine’s Day.

To meet this demand, women and men are working nonstop, often without fair compensation and safe working conditions, in greenhouses across Ecuador and Colombia, two of the leading suppliers of cut flowers to the Canadian market.

Recently I visited Cayambe, the heart of Ecuador’s flower industry, and learned that many people working in this industry are reporting serious labour rights violations.

Cayambe is a small city that lies on the equator at the foot of Cayambe Volcano high in the Andes, north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Due to the constant high position of the sun and the relatively cool mountain temperatures, this region of Ecuador has been a leading producer of some of the world’s biggest roses and tallest carnations since the mid 1980s.

In Cayambe, I met Gladys, a mother of three…read more…