Three pillars of sustainable procurement (the environment, the economy and social value)

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You may have heard the term "sustainable procurement" before, but what exactly does it mean? Sustainable procurement is the process of procuring goods and services in a way that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

There are three main pillars of sustainable procurement: environmental protection, social responsibility, and economic prosperity. In this post, we’ll look at what each of these three pillars mean, and discuss how businesses can ensure they are accounting for all three areas in their operations.
Environmental protection

One of the main goals of sustainable procurement is to reduce the environmental impact of products and services throughout their entire lifecycle. This includes everything from extracting raw materials to manufacturing to using and disposing of products. To do this, procurers should consider things like a product’s energy efficiency, recycled content, toxins and emissions, packaging, and durability.

The pandemic has brought this particular pillar into sharper focus, with the rise in PPE use posing a serious threat to our environment. It’s important that businesses are aware of how to recycle PPE and other materials used throughout their operation, to help limit the amount of waste that’s generated.
Social responsibility

Another goal of sustainable procurement is to ensure that the goods and services being procured support social responsibility. This includes things like ensuring that working conditions are safe and fair, as well as preventing forced labour, child labour and human trafficking. Keeping local communities at the heart of your policies and processes will ensure your company has a greater and longer-lasting impact on our wider society.
Economic prosperity

Finally, sustainable procurement aims to create economic prosperity by promoting competitiveness, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This means supporting businesses of all sizes – including small businesses and businesses owned by marginalised groups – and investing in research and development. It also concentrates on ensuring that processes are streamlined and made as efficient as possible, to make the best use of resources and ultimately improve your bottom line.
What are the benefits of sustainable procurement?

When it comes to procurement, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor. Businesses are under pressure to reduce their environmental impact due to governmental targets, and sustainable procurement can help them to do this.

A big part of sustainable procurement is prioritising the use of greener products, such as those that are made from recycled materials or are more energy-efficient. By procuring sustainable products, businesses can reduce their environmental impact and show their commitment to sustainability. Not only does this benefit the planet, but it also can help to improve brand image and ultimately attract more customers and better workers.

Furthermore, sustainable procurement can also help businesses to save money. Sustainable products often have lower operating costs, and they may also last longer than traditional alternatives. As a result, businesses that focus on sustainable procurement can save money in the long term while also reducing their environmental impact.