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Procurement Managers Give Sustainability A High Priority

Procurement managers are almost always trying to find sustainably produced material, a new survey says. Ecosystem Marketplace reports that the 2017 Sustainable Procurement Barometer looks at the manufacturing and retail sectors and finds that 97% of the 120 respondents said that buying sustainable products is among their highest priorities. That’s up from 93% four years ago.

The findings are similar to those in Forest Trends Supply Change project, which shows steadily increasing corporate action to halt deforestation, says the publication.

Still, cost savings, compliance and risk reduction rank even higher in the Sustainable Procurement Barometer. But being sustainable is a business driver.

“Sustainable procurement is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s an integral business function responsible for protecting and improving brand reputation, driving revenue and mitigating business risk,” said Pierre-Francois Thaler, co-CEO of EcoVadis, as quoted in the story.

To that end, 76% of those surveyed said improved brand was the main driver while 55% said it strengthens relationships with suppliers. Twenty-eight percent said it led to cost savings. Going forward, though, the procurement managers said that internal resources were an issue, along with tracking supply chains and over all costs.

“While executives are finally on board, procurement teams still report that a lack of internal resources holds them back,” Thaler said, as quoted in Ecosystem Marketplace.
While the initial moves may have been prompted by regulations or consumer demands, many companies now want to ensure that everyone up-and-down the corporate chain of command is committed to the cause — from the chief executives to the folks on the shop floor. They have determined that they are not just getting environmental benefits but also financial returns.

“More and more investors are starting to ask questions about non-financial issues,” says David Harpring, director of global sustainability and engineering for Yum Brands in Louisville, KY. Yum owns about 43,000 Taco Bells, Kentucky Fried Chickens and Pizza Huts based in 140 countries, although many are franchised. 

Harpring says that Yum’s biggest challenge is in trying to measure the total greenhouse gas emissions. It has determined that 97 percent of those releases are coming from the restaurants, although it also examines such things as travel by car and airplane. It then provides a template to report that data.

It’s also about building a brand and one that can be trusted by all stakeholders.

“It starts with regulations,” says Andree Blesgen, senior process engineer for Evonik Industries in Mobile, Ala.. “Then it moves to minimizing our environmental footprint. All investments will have a payback: some quickly and some long term.”

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