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This article is focussing on sustainability and Green Sourcing. You can find an excerpt of the article below. You can also click here to read the full article.

Ten Steps to Green Procurement

This section outlines a ten-step process that an organization can use to go green.

Commit to Being Green

Make Green a corporate mandate and create a green policy. This should come from the top. Specify that green is a top priority, and that all procurements for products and services must have minimum green requirements, as well as written authorizations to choose a product that is not among the greenest possible choices. Make it everyone's responsibility and make it a key component of compensation reviews and allocations.

Identify and Categorize Your Needs

Ask yourself: what are we buying, what do you need to buy, what environmental impacts do each of these products or services have, and do they have any similarities? Once you answer these questions, you can see where you can make a big impact. Then you can do something about it.

Develop Green Specifications and Standards

The first step is to develop green specifications and standards for every product you buy. If you buy a lot of office paper (and you probably do), you can insist on a minimum amount of recycled content and unbleached / non-chlorinated paper that is easily recyclable.

If you buy a lot of IT hardware, you can save the environment in a major way by insuring that your IT organization moves away from always-on-at-full-capacity mainframes to modern rack-based server clusters with dynamic resource allocation and virtualization and rack-based cooling that not only cut operating power requirements drastically (often in half), but also cuts power requirements for cooling (by 20% or more). You can replace all your energy-hog desktops with Sun and IBM thin-client technology that is anyway from 5 times more efficient to 20 times more efficient than your average desktop (depending on computing needs). You can replace your power-hungry CRT monitors with power-light LCD monitors. You can make sure that all of your equipment has automatic power-save standby modes that consume 1W of power or less if it is left on.

Wherever possible, you should use existing environmental standards such as Energy Star, or standard environmental ratings, factors, and best practices, such as might be recommended by LEED, EMAS, or the ICLEI KES in defining your specifications.

Establish Green Selection Criteria and Their Impact on Award Decisions

Once you have identified the standards you are going to use for each category, you have to outline the selection criteria, weight and prioritize them, and figure out how much of an impact they are going to have on your decision. What percentage of the decision must be based on green considerations? 20%? 50%? 80%? In some categories, where the difference between "green" and "not green" is not that significant, or where your overall spend, and therefore your overall influence, is low, it's probably not useful to take a hard stance - unless there are considerable cost savings or brand enhancements to be made. The categories where your spend is high, and the effect of going green is substantial, are where you need to focus your efforts, as that's where you can do the most good.

Focus on Identifying Products and Services which are Green

Generally speaking, if a supplier isn't green, or making an effort to go green, that supplier should not even be invited to bid. Make it a policy that, unless you are not able to identify at least three green suppliers, that a non-green supplier should not even be allowed to enter a bid. Also consider defining automatic exclusion rules for suppliers that still employ manufacturing processes that produce banned CFCs or products that (unnecessarily) contain lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphyenls, and polybrominated diphenyl ether (as restricted or banned under RoHS. Also, don't be afraid to show preferences to manufacturers and distributors who actively advance environmental conservation practices.

Always Use a Life-Cycle Costing Approach

Consider the total environmental impact of the product you are considering from the harvesting and processing of the raw materials through its final disposal before making a decision. Be sure to include efficiency, waste, recyclability, and material composition into your analysis. With regards to services, consider the total environmental impact of the equipment utilized in the performance of the services as well as any impact of the services themselves.

Include Green Performance Clauses in Every Contract

Be sure to incorporate clauses into every contract that allow you to enforce penalties or terminate the contract if the supplier does not meet the minimum green and sustainability requirements that they commit to. Also consider incorporating clauses that reward the supplier with more business or bonuses if they exceed green requirements. For example, if they managed to increase their recycled content factor from 40% to 50% without reducing quality, they should be rewarded with more business. If they manage to deliver equipment which is more energy efficient than promised, and you save bags of money, give them a bonus by reducing the base volume rebate you negotiated. In addition, the entire contract should be littered with green terminology.

Communicate and Inform

Once you have policies and practices, it's important that you communicate them, explain them, and offer your buyers training on the complex categories that they have to manage on a regular basis so that they can differentiate the products that are truly green from those that are coated in greenwashing.

 Use Green Technology

Use e-procurement, e-sourcing, and other e-systems, run on energy-efficient technology, to buy online rather than using reams upon reams of paper that result in the unnecessary destruction of forests to research, contract, and buy products and services. Furthermore, maintain all of your manuals, and policies, in easy to access e-documents on your indexed, searchable, and easily accessible corporate intranet.

Make it Easy

Design every policy, process, and system developed and deployed in support of green to be easier to use than the alternatives. People like easy. If you make purchasing green easy, it will happen naturally (and, done right, save you a lot of gr$$n).

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