By: Sarah Scudder
Environmental sustainability has become an important topic among sourcing professionals over the past few years. A recent Google search using the term “sustainable procurement” returned just under 28,000 results, and that included only results for the past year. Searches using the terms “sustainable purchasing” and “sustainable sourcing” produced a similar number of results.
The growing interest of business leaders in environmental sustainability is easy to understand. Consumers have become more aware that the production of the products they purchase and use has repercussions on the environment, and they are increasingly demanding that companies providing those products minimize environmental impacts.
Business leaders are also recognizing that the environmental reputation of their company is strongly affected by their suppliers’ practices. And the reality is, a company’s supply chain usually has much more impact on the environment than the company’s internal operations. Recent research by McKinsey & Company found that the typical consumer packaged goods (CPG) company’s supply chain accounts for more than 80% of total greenhouse emissions, and more than 90% of the total environmental impact on air, land, water, biodiversity and geological resources.
These circumstances are causing business leaders to become more intent on working with suppliers that use sound environmental practices, and the job of selecting such suppliers and monitoring the environmental performance of the supply chain falls primarily on the shoulders of sourcing professionals.
For understandable reasons, sourcing professionals first focused their sustainable procurement efforts on direct spend categories. But applying sustainable procurement to indirect spending can also enhance a company’s reputation for environmental sustainability.
In Search of “Green” Printing
Printed materials are a significant category of indirect spending for many large and mid-size companies. This category typically covers a broad range of diverse products and involves purchases from numerous suppliers. The number of suppliers providing printed materials can make it challenging to evaluate the environmental practices of suppliers on a case-by-case basis.