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Making green procurement a reality

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The role and scope of a buyer needs to be redefined to ensure businesses adopt green procurement especially after the fifth United Nations World Environmental day commemoration.

A company can consider as a part of its long-term focus a procurement strategy that factors in environmental issues. It is evident that there is growing concern on environmental issues.

Practically, there are very few organisations that are proactive in their environmental strategies.

Environmental strategies are generally motivated by punitive laws and demands by civil society on business to attain a certain level of environmental conversation.

Buyers have a role to play in greening-supply chains.

They must take a proactive role to protect citizens from dangers that are posed to the environment as a result of uncontrolled use and disposal of dangerous substances.

Organisations such as Environmental Management Agenc need to play a proactive role to educate citizens including buyers on environmental issues.

Buyers in Zimbabwe must accustom themselves with banned commodities. This is critical because buyers review environmental issues at four stages in business, at supplier appraisal, product development, production and disposal stage of the product.

Traditionally, environmental issues were managed by just merely reactive “3Rs” of reduce, reuse and recycle that focused on post-use environmental management strategies.

With the adoption of the Global Compact principle seven –nine, businesses need to focus on proactive approach to management of environmental issues. The objectives of such measures are to:

l Create awareness of environmental impact — developing guidelines for green procurement

l Rethink material requirements and consumption

l Reduce the use of hazardous materials — improving energy efficiency of purchased materials

l Reduce pollution and noise levels and using recycled materials, and recycling waste.

Buyers must enforce eight additional “Rs” of environmental management that include regulating, controlling and restricting suppliers that do not have appetite to preserve the environment, relinquishing or giving up suppliers that have negative environmental impact and replacing or substituting suppliers that use wasteful technologies with environmentally conscious suppliers.

When developing new products, buyers must reconsider the overuse of resources in order to minimise the impact on the environment.

They must restrict the indiscriminate wasteful use of natural resources and confine use of resources to levels below which they can be regenerated and regulated.

During production they must plan repair of machinery since machinery that is not in good state tends to be wasteful. It uses more resources and emits more waste than normal.

Equipment maintenance increases efficiency and reduces environmental impact.

At the salvage stage, in addition to the traditional “3Rs”, reclaiming to improve or make an object operational once again can be done in addition to restoring, returning to the environment the resources that were taken from it including returning resourcing to their natural state.

To ensure effective implementation of green procurement principles, it is important that companies rethink the role of buyers and elevate them to appropriate organisational levels that can influence strategy.

By no means can businesses integrate environmental considerations in purchasing practices if buyers are clerical and merely expected to process purchase requisitions at the expense of strategic management.

It is critical because environmental issues are becoming increasingly central to the thinking of today’s organisations.

It is now imperative that businesses incorporate a basic level of environmental awareness strategy into their supply chain practices. It’s about time we act — a stitch in time saves nine.

Nyasha Chizu is branch chairman of Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply

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