IT & Operations

Webinar: Companies are forced to choose sustainable procurement

December 11, 2013

More and more companies practice sustainable procurement, says Bart Vos, NEVI professor of Purchasing Management at Tilburg University. Most of the times companies are forced by law or by their customers. ‘An example is the news about some Dutch clothing companies who were criticized by minister Ploumen, because they didn’t sign the agreement by the clothing branch for better working circumstances in Bangladesh.’

Image: © Nationale Beeldbank

Why should sustainable procurement be a topic for companies?

“There are several reasons for companies to practice sustainable procurement. One reason is when they are forced by the government or customers. An example is the news about some Dutch clothing companies who were criticized by minister Ploumen because they didn’t sign the agreement by the clothing branch for better working circumstances in Bangladesh. Also NGOs are better organized; they now know how to better persuade companies to become more sustainable.
And there are companies who see sustainable procurement as a responsibility. They choose to be sustainable or social. An example is the coffee company Max Havelaar. At first that can be a small action, but sometimes it become a driver for the whole sector. Now also Albert Heijn or Douwe Egberts try to be more responsible.”

Boring topic and a bit odd

What is more common: internal reasons or forced by the outside world?

“Most companies are forced. More and more customers want a sustainable supplier. The question is off course if customers really want to pay money for it. Future research is needed to show that.
For me sustainable procurement has been a topic for ten years. When I started doing research, the topic was boring and a bit odd. That’s not the case anymore. It’s definitely becoming more important.”

Which companies are doing it?

“Manufacturers were the first sector to adopt sustainable procurement. They had to because of excessive demands of available resources. Big manufacturers like Akzo Nobel or Philips are doing it for years. Sustainable procurement is a new topic for the banking sector. Triodos and ASN Bank are already good examples.”

Part of the company strategy

How do you start as a company?

“It takes time and money; it’s not something to be taken lightly. Most of the times sustainable procurement is part of the policy corporate sustainable responsibility. And that should be part of the company strategy. Otherwise it only will only cost money and companies will not benefit. During the webinar I’ll show the advantages and disadvantages of sustainable procurement and I will give some examples.

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