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).

Presenting the 2015 State of the Nation Report on Municipal Sustainable Purchasing in Canada

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) are pleased to release their sixth annual MCSP State of the Nation Report. Each year the report has provided the most comprehensive and up-to-date discussion of the latest trends, best practices, examples and case studies in municipal sustainable purchasing in Canada.

The report offers a national snapshot of how Canadian municipalities are implementing sustainable purchasing programs and is an invaluable resource for municipal decision-makers looking to implement impactful sustainable procurement programming.

View the full report at http://blog.reeveconsulting.com/resources/

 The release of the report also marks the kick-off of the 2016 programming for the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement. This year, the MCSP welcomed post-secondary institution members alongside municipalities to its Canada-wide network of professionals engaged in developing and leading the charge in best practice sustainable procurement at the local community level. Through its collaboration and resource sharing programs, the MCSP will help participating municipalities and post-secondary institutions address challenges and priorities raised in the 2015 State of the Nation report.

For more information on the collaboration, visit the MCSP website.

Media Contact:

Tim Reeve

President, Reeve Consulting

Phone: 604-763-6829

Email: tim@reeveconsulting.com

Growing the Market for Fairtrade Products in Canada

 Did you know that Fairtrade Certification is the most widely recognized consumer eco-label in  the world? It’s not surprising given that Fairtrade certification includes minimum environmental, social and economic standards, all related to the production and distribution to a growing range of consumer products. The high recognition rate is good news for both ourselves and our friends at Fairtrade Canada, who have recently engaged Reeve Consulting to help them develop and execute a major Retail Engagement Strategy aimed at growing the availability of certified Fairtrade products in major Canadian Grocery Stores such as Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Whole Foods and Federated Cooperative Limited [PDF]. We’ll be working as key partner to the Fairtrade Canada Commercial team for the next 4 months as part of a new focus within the organization on the retail sector. If you’re a certified Fairtrade brand, a Fairtrade supplier or a friend of Fairtrade, we’d love to hear your ideas on how we can grow the market for Fairtrade products in Canada and beyond.

Green Sports Alliance Summit

Sustainability at the 4th Green Sports Alliance Summit

I 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.

Throughout history, sports have proven an effective way to bring people together in camaraderie. Whether it’s the baseball field, the hockey rink, or the ski slope, the environment is an important participant in any sport. This gives the industry strong motivation to preserve natural spaces, not only for athletes but for the children of future generations eager to experience the games themselves.

As a strategic advisor for ethical and sustainable business practices, I am always enthusiastic about industries making the green choice. It’s not just great for the environment but makes smart business sense as well. Sustainable purchasing helps you become a leading sports organization by eliminating waste and creating more efficient use of resources. For example, by forming partnerships with sustainable food providers, you have steady access to an efficient quality food source and by avoiding sweat-shop labour, you are selling better products to your clients, ones produced with skill and care.

That so many dedicated sports professionals have come together for the Green Sports Alliance is incredibly heartening, hopefully a prophecy of things to come. I look forward to helping the Alliance transform the whole sports environment and look forward to seeing you at the summit.

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.

2012 – A Turning Point in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing in Canada

Sustainable purchasing is gaining ground in the Canadian municipal sector as municipalities realize its contribution to existing ‘green’ objectives, such as zero waste and climate neutrality, and corporate ones, such as risk management or operational efficiency. As a relatively new practice within the Canadian public sector, many municipalities are reaching out to their peers to share resources on sustainable purchasing. A cross-country peer network that is a front-runner in setting new benchmarks and best practices in sustainable purchasing in Canada is the Municipal Collaboration on Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP).

The MCSP, for which Reeve Consulting serves as secretariat and technical expert, allows municipalities to share sustainable purchasing lessons, best practices, “tricks of the trade”, and other resources to fast-track their individual programs. The group recently launched a publication co-authored by Reeve on, ‘The State of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada’. Through consultations with MCSP participants and extensive literature review, the study reports on the current state of municipal sustainable procurement in Canada.

The study found that 2012 was an important year for municipalities with many strategically approaching their programs:

  • In response to increased staffing and resource constraints, municipalities enhanced their collaboration with MCSP peer and other agencies and strategically leveraged existing relationships and shared resources
  • Inter-departmental collaborations were also strengthened especially between Procurement and Sustainability. Other departments were also engaged via, for example the formation of inter-department green teams, to increase program buy-in and instill behavioural change on municipal spending
  • Greater focus on implementation. Recognizing that it takes 2 to 5 years to form a comprehensive program, many municipalities took a dual-track approach, dividing resources between building program elements and targeting key contracts such as copy paper (that has a mature sustainability market)

Overall, 2012 is considered to be a turning point in municipal sustainable procurement in Canada due to the focus on collaboration. Next year, municipalities have reported that they will be implementing their programs more widely and developing measurement and reporting frameworks. With insufficient levels in their resource pools, forming stronger and wider collaborations for sustainable purchasing will be more important than ever.

>> Download a full copy of the 2012 State of Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report from the Resources page.

To learn more about the MCSP, contact Tim Reeve @:                           tim@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.

Cotton Supply Chain: organic & fair trade sustainability in the global market

2010 was a record-breaking year for cotton prices in global markets. In this post, Reeve Consulting presents an overview of recent market activity, considers the implications for working and environmental conditions in the supply chain and takes a look at how organic and fair-trade cotton sectors are fairing. We finish with a few suggestions for corporate and governmental purchasers looking to reduce brand risk and improve ethical and sustainable purchasing practices when it comes to cotton goods.


Flickr / kimberlykv

Cotton is the largest non-food crop in the world with over 24.3 million tonnes consumed worldwide annually. Did you know it’s also the largest employer? From farm workers to retail employees, an estimated 1 billion people are involved in the growing, processing and selling stages.

Given the ubiquity of cotton, it’s significant that 2010 was an unprecedented year for the commodity in global markets. The price doubled in a year and broke the $1 (U.S.) per pound level for the first time in 15 years.

Globe and Mail / Bloomberg

Rising prices affects the entire supply chain

A number of factors have been attributed to the sudden price increase, a main one being poor weather conditions in top growing regions, including floods in Pakistan, a severe cold snap in China, crop-killing hailstorms in Texas and, more recently, flooding in Australia. Speculation has played a significant role, as well as export restrictions put in place by India (the second-largest cotton producer) to protect domestic supplies and prices.

Consequently, the clothing sector is feeling the squeeze of both increasing input costs and a weak consumer environment. According to media reports, the prices of jeans, t-shirts and other cotton apparel will likely increase 2 – 15% in 2011.

Clean Clothes Campaign

To avoid passing a price hike to consumers, clothing companies may reduce costs by mixing in less expensive, synthetic fibers or by decreasing pack sizes on smaller bulk products like socks. Of greater concern is that companies will move production to lower wage countries with lower duty tariffs and weaker environmental restrictions. As examples, consider how garment workers demanding a fair minimum wage are currently being treated in Cambodia and Bangladesh. Anticipating such tactics, the Ethical Trade Initiative released a statement in late-September urging retail buyers to factor in the cost of a living wage for workers in their price negotiations with garment suppliers.

Organic cotton prices are linked to conventional cotton prices

A recent edition of Engage, an e-newsletter published by the Organic Exchange, takes a close look at the organic cotton industry. The opening article suggests the extraordinary times experienced by conventional cotton have on the one hand created a beneficial seller’s market. At the same time these conditions have had a potentially damaging impact on the sector by leveling the price of organic and conventional cotton. As the Organic Exchange (OE) puts it:

“Farmers are seeing their carefully tended organic harvest end up in conventional supply chains. Organic cotton procurers are struggling to meet their usual premium commitments (which don’t make sense anymore) and on top of this the lag time for organic buyers to respond to the market is adding a further complication.”

The article concludes that if organic cotton is to be secure in a stable, appropriate value chain it needs protection from the dramatically changing commodity price. This could come in the form of working partnerships that deliver benefit to farmers as well as buyers.

This concept is further covered in a recent article in the World of Organic Agriculture – Statistics and Emerging Trends 2010 journal:

“The sector must address the protection of the farm and fiber business model to ensure farmers and those who work with them receive sufficient returns to maintain investment in farmer development and productivity.”

Protection from the commodity market rollercoaster

A number of programs have attempted to protect cotton from market conditions. Perhaps the best known is the fair trade movement.  We’ve written a number of posts on the Reeve Consulting blog about the new garment certification program unveiled in 2010 by Fair Trade USA. For the first time the full supply chain of a product, not just the agricultural inputs, can receive fair trade certification ensuring workers are paid a fair, living wage for their goods and services. While only a handful of brands have completed the certification process, recent reports indicate more companies are working with Fair Trade USA to acquire certification.

Flickr / kimberlykv

Another example can be found in the recent commitment by Anvil Knitwear to double the production of organic cotton in the U.S. Through the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, Anvil will pay a premium for organic cotton as well as purchase any cotton making a transition to organic at a price close to the premium. The hope is that having a guaranteed buyer will encourage conventional cotton farmers to switch to organic production.

Social Alterations, an online education lab for socially responsible fashion design, has also focused on this issue and recently shared a post outlining approaches undertaken by two other global commodities – coffee and cocoa – that have similarly attempted to address the volatility of global commodity prices.

Purchasing cotton responsibly: ethical and sustainable purchasing considerations

When it comes buying cotton goods, purchasing departments can reduce risk and improve supply chain practices by considering the following:

  • Making a formal commitment to specify and support sustainable forms of cotton in purchasing decisions (e.g. organic, fair trade, ethically sourced)
  • Considering the origins of cotton goods including. More specifically, the working and environmental conditions under which they were made
  • Investing in long-term relationships with suppliers and focusing on continued improvement

To learn more about how our clients and organizations are benefitting from these and other sustainable supply chain practices contact us.