BuySmart Workshop: Maximizing the impact of sustainable purchasing, Nov 30

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!

Who is this workshop meant for?

The BuySmart workshops have been designed for staff in public, private and non-profit organizations who are responsible for purchasing, sustainability or corporate responsibility in their organizations — and anyone else with an interest in sustainable purchasing and its associated social, environmental and financial benefits.

Why is this workshop useful to you and your organization?

This BuySmart workshop will show you how to leverage your purchasing power using simple tools such as scorecards and product guidelines. It can provide you with the knowledge and resources to:

  • Maximize the strategic impact of your sustainable purchasing program
  • Send clear sustainability performance signals to the market and enhance relationships with your suppliers
  • Refine your procurement process to:
  1. Integrate sustainability into bid documents
  2. Introduce supplier sustainability performance scorecards
  3. Consider the different methods of evaluating supplier proposals
  4. Establish sustainability standards and clauses for different commodity groups
  5. Use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure sustainable purchasing program impacts.

Have your questions answered first-hand by people with a wealth of experience in sustainable purchasing. The workshop is facilitated by Tim Reeve, co-founder of the BuySmart network and President of Reeve Consulting, along with Cora Strandberg. They will be joined by guest speakers Victoria Wakefield of UBC and Jason Boyce of Nature’s Path Foods.

Where can I sign up?

To register, please visit buysmartbc.com.

A 20% discount is offered for organizations sending two or more participants.

For more details, feel free to call Bob Purdy at 604-488-5355.

Register soon as spaces are limited!

Key tips & resources for effectively measuring sustainable purchasing programs

Flickr / Pink Sherbert

How many times have we heard it, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”? It’s  a management consulting mantra that is repeated so often you could almost tune it out.

“Yes, of course” we affirm to our peers and colleagues. But inwardly most of us would agree that developing good key performance indicators (KPI’s) and accurate tracking mechanisms are generally underdeveloped across the triple bottom line, and definitely in their infancy when it comes to sustainable purchasing.

Yet the reality is that metrics are a key success factor in building out a solid sustainable purchasing program, providing a clear indication of program strengths, weaknesses, and by extension, areas for future development and improvement.

Nonetheless, at Reeve Consulting our experience has been that the development and measurement of quality metrics is often overlooked or identified as a future priority.

We know clients face organizational challenges to implementing quality measurement systems, such as a prioritization of policy and procedure at the expense of performance tracking, or difficulty measuring the ‘green-ess’ of products and suppliers, which can be time intensive and confusing. Further, traditional accounting systems often don’t consider sustainability measures.

While we won’t attempt to address all these issues in a single blog post, some of our recent work has us compiling a set of useful resources for developing customized metrics for sustainable purchasing reporting and management systems, both for measuring overall program performance and specific aspects – such as purchasing categories (e.g. vehicles). We’ve shared a collection of these below.

To get started, we’ve also created a short list of key tips for developing effective metrics, which we encourage our clients to consider at the outset.

Key Tips for Developing Effective Metrics:


  1. Link to corporate sustainability initiatives – An important step in customizing a set of metrics is to ensure they are linked to corporate sustainability objectives and reporting systems. For example, if your corporation is concerned with minimizing waste, then sustainable purchasing metrics should include performance measures related to the amount of waste diverted by buying products with reusable or reduced packaging.
  1. Realistic to measure – Also, ensure that you will be able to realistically measure the outcomes of all metrics overtime. Building on the earlier example, if waste reduction is measured at the corporate level, set a metric that requires measurement of packaging reduction in a few product categories, rather than all product categories, the latter being more time consuming and difficult to measure.
  1. Plan to expand – Don’t get bogged down in the development stage by trying to define a comprehensive set of metrics and reporting processes. Plan to expand your metrics and performance reporting with time. Start with realistic metrics to ensure early success in reporting.

 Helpful Resources for Developing Customized Metrics


   Metrics for tracking at the Sustainable Purchasing Program Level

  • The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides high-level performance indicators that have been adopted by many corporations across the globe. You can also view the GRI Product Responsibility Indicator guide HERE. You may want to align your tracking and reporting systems with relevant GRI metrics.
  • Kaiser Permanente, a USA-based healthcare organization that Reeve Consulting has interviewed on a few occasions around their best practices, has recently developed the PS Annual EPP Success Story Achievements document that outlines the metrics they’re tracking and reporting with regards to EPP (environmental preferable purchasing). This includes metrics for vehicles and office IT equipment.

   Metrics for tracking impacts at the Product Level

  • Third-party Ecolabel standards can also be used to identify metrics. For example, the key environmental attributes (e.g. toxicity, material utilization) of the individual standards developed by Canada’s EcoLogo program for different products could be used to determine what you track for specific product categories, such as office equipment, furniture, etc. The Responsible Purchasing Network has outlined a detailed list of other third-party ecolabel standards that you may want to consider.
  • The Responsible Purchasing Network also has a wide variety of calculators that can be used to measure the impacts of your sustainable purchasing practices. They are product specific. It is recommended that you try using existing online calculators to help you measure the impacts of specific product categories as a starting point. For example, they have an Office Electronics Calculator, so you may want to develop metrics for this product category, knowing there is a calculator in place to help you assess outcomes.
  • E3 Fleet Rating is designed to evaluate and recognize performance, and allows fleets to be rated at the Bronze, Silver or Gold level of performance. E3 Fleet Rating uses a point-based Rating System Checklist for rating fleet performance, with points for fleet management practices and energy/emissions performance.
  • Look to your suppliers to help develop reasonable metrics. Many of your suppliers may already be tracking the environmental impacts of their products. Consult them to learn what data they can provide and then set metrics related to this data. For example, Cascades is tracking valuable data related to their paper products (e.g. tissue) that could be used to measure the impacts of buying more green cleaning products. As the following link shows, Cascades can provide data for water usage, recycled content in packaging, reduction in the use of trees, etc. that is related to the products they manufacture. Click HERE for details.

Sustainable Health Care: Opportunities for Green & Ethical Purchasing in Canadian Hospitals

Flickr / boliston

In a recent discussion paper titled Greening Canadian Hospitals, Community Research Connections reported there are more than 3000 hospitals, medical facilities and surgery centers across Canada, making up a healthcare sector that contributes approximately 10% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). More than affecting individual health, these facilities impact the environmental, social and economic health of the communities where they operate as well as further afield through their product and service supply chains.

The Canadian health care sector is the second largest single-sector source of dioxin contamination in Canada. It also contributes 20% of all mercury emissions from incineration and 2.1% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing the potential of both environmental and economic returns, there has been considerable attention to the greening of health care. A number of hospitals and health authorities have been identified as leaders in the field including those listed below (click on the links to view case studies outlining their achievements).

  • University Health Network Toronto, Ontario (2008 Co-Winner of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Pollution Prevention Award for overall pollution prevention by an organization)

Primary areas of focus for these groups include reducing energy and water consumption, improving waste diversion practices, and removing toxics. Less common among these facilities is the inclusion of a green purchasing policy. Illustrating this point, a recent review of 10 Ontario hospitals by Corporate Knight’s found only one had a sustainable procurement policy in place. Even less common in the Canadian health sector is the presence of ethical purchasing standards. For  example, considering the working conditions where uniforms and surgical instruments are manufactured, or closer to home, supporting local businesses with sub-contract opportunities for cleaning and maintenance.

Flickr / uberzombie

A comprehensive sustainable purchasing program is an effective way for hospitals to introduce environmental and ethical considerations to their operations. While there are a number of challenges specific to the sector there are many opportunities.

Reeve Consulting is currently working on a project with the Buy Smart Network to assess opportunities and challenges for Health Shared Services B.C., a division of the Provincial Health Services Authority responsible for supply chain logistics and procurement for health authorities in B.C. While our project is in it’s early stages, an initial review of best practices and opportunities has us optimistic about reducing the use of one-time disposable products as well as the high volumes of packaging used in the sector. We’ve also found positive examples to build off of in the realm of ethical purchasing practices, a field that is more developed in Europe (e.g. the British Medical Association’s Medical Fair & Ethical Trade Group). There are also great strides to be made in employee and supplier engagement as well as collaboration within the sector.

We look forward to updating our readers on our results both here on the blog and with related reports on our new website ‘Resources’ page (to be unveiled in coming weeks). Please check back for more information.

 

 

Cadbury Dairy Milk Goes Fair Trade in Canada

Flickr /xelcise

If you pick-up a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar in Canada these days you may notice some changes to the packaging. Since this summer, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk line has been fair trade certified. The wrappers now include an internationally recognized symbol that assures the sugar and cocoa have been purchased from producers paid a fair wage for their crop. Cadbury’s first fair trade bars were released in the UK and Ireland in 2009 and more recently in Canada, Australia and New Zealand in 2010. According to the Cadbury website, going fair trade will quadruple the sales of fair trade cocoa from Ghana and affect over 40,000 cocoa farmers.

The fair trade marketing campaign:

To accompany the release of its fair trade line, Cadbury has unveiled a marketing campaign that invites people to “see the big fair trade picture”. The campaign features print, billboard and online advertising as well as a redesigned website dedicated to the brand (dairymilk.ca). At the centre of the campaign is a series of murals in Toronto and Montreal designed by a Ghanian artist, each of which focuses on a particular benefit of fair trade. The murals fit together like puzzle pieces to present the “big picture”.  Themes of the murals include “Improving Local Infrastructure”, “Providing Access to Clean Water”, “Improving Local Health Care” and more. Out-of-home advertising also featured a summer street campaign that invited passersby to sign a petition supporting fair trade in Canada.

Is big business good for fair trade?

This move has brought plenty of attention to Cadbury and has some questioning if big business’ increasing interest in fair trade is good for the sector. On the one hand, more corporations moving some of their buying to fair trade could have a large positive impact worldwide. Further, the greater availability of fair trade certified products could raise awareness among consumers. There’s also the hope that other corporations will note their competitors shift and joins suit, for example Hershey’s or Nestle.

But is it enough for Cadbury to convert one of its lines to fair trade designation? If they’re committed to the tenets of the movement, shouldn’t they be buying fair trade inputs for all their products? It’s a good question. A skeptical view of Cadbury’s fair trade Dairy Milk may lead one to conclude its primarily a marketing stunt; an attempt to improve Cadbury’s public image without a full commitment to sustainability.

It’s a start:

At Reeve Consulting we’re not quick to jump to this conclusion. We support incremental change and from experience realize that broader change takes time.  Companies face many challenges in converting their supply chains and in most cases need to start small. An important element for us is that companies acknowledge there are problems beyond those they’re starting with, and that moving forward there’s a plan for these issues to be addressed.

We’re hoping to discuss this further with Cadbury’s Ethical Sourcing Manager this week when we attend the Sustainable Supply Chain Solutions conference in San Francisco. Watch this space for a follow-up post on what we find out. We’ll also be tweeting from the conference at @ReeveConsulting.