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Sustainable procurement one step closer to an ISO standard

by Elizabeth Gasiorowski Denis on
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Whether its “sustainable purchasing”, “responsible purchasing” or “sustainable procurement”, who does not want their purchasing practices to be sustainable anyway?

But there’s a hitch. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the number of standards for green products has grown in recent years due to increasing market demand for environmentally preferable products. Along with this changing marketplace, however, has come growing concern over “greenwashing” and uncertainty about which environmental claims related to standards and labels can be trusted.

But how can a company be sure it’s using a credible benchmark? Is there a one-in-all standard that all companies can use? Here’s a quick run-down of the low-down on sustainable procurement.

What is sustainable procurement

A process whereby organizations meet their needs for goods, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money in terms of generating benefits not only to the organization, but also to society and the economy, while minimizing damage to the environment.

Why an ISO standard

The future ISO 20400 standard will bring value beyond the procurement and the purchasing community by helping to disseminate CSR practices contained in ISO 26000:2010Guidance on social responsibility, throughout supply chains, and ultimately the entire economy. ISO/PC 277 has been set up to develop the standard and 20 other countries are currently participating in its work.

How will an ISO standard contribute

The future ISO 20400 will standardize guidelines and principles for all stakeholders working with internal and external purchasing processes – including contractors, suppliers, buyers, and local authorities – as part of an effort to demonstrate good practices for sustainable purchasing.

Who will benefit

All organizations, independent of their size and sector, will benefit by integrating the principles and issues of social responsibility within the purchasing process. In a nutshell, it will:

  • Increase the value of these essential emerging management practices
  • Help differentiate between the programmes that are genuine efforts to tackle environmental, human rights or corruption issues within the supply chain, and the programmes that are just scratching the surface and can be considered mere “window dressing”
  • Encourage other organizations to launch similar programmes by benefitting right away from the experience of early adopters and subject matter experts

Want a sneak preview?

The committee draft (CD) version can now be purchased, giving companies the opportunity to get a taste of the new standard before the final publication date.

For more information on the CD stage and how you can contribute, contact your ISO member.