Green: A Primer on the Benefits for Buyers and Suppliers Alike

No one said being green was easy. After all, the act of chartering new ground in any industry with multiple partners often brings with it the need not only for creativity and collaboration, but also the willingness to jump out in front of the pack. I recently came across this undated article (hat-tip: Amy Edwards) from The Green Business leader which does a good job summarizing many of the benefits of green for buyers and suppliers alike. In this early stage of the market, the story notes that there's "no cookie-cutter approach to greening suppliers … At some companies, environmental procurement initiatives are comprehensive, with extensive performance criteria and evaluation processes given to all, or most, vendors. At others, the efforts are smaller and more targeted, focusing on packaging, for example, on a specific type of emissions, or on only the largest suppliers."

What sucessful companies -- and initiatives do share in common -- according to the piece are "clear and consistent communications". And they also "have high-level environmental commitments, backed by clear, strong mission statements and top management's understanding of the benefits of integrating the environment throughout company operations." The rest of the piece walks through some of the different green operating and supplier management approaches of Volvo, Compaq, IBM, HP, Herman Miller, and S.C. Johnson. After that, it ends with a list of some of the key questions to ask suppliers as part of green initiatives. All in all, a worthwhile read. As I continue to come up to speed on green and sustainability, I've found there's not enough written about it to provide what I'm looking for. But perhaps the silver lining in the green procurement movement is that some of the companies I've spoken with and studied are more willing to talk about what they're doing around green procurement than other Spend Management areas. After all, let's not forget that, above all, green is good marketing (as it should be). And that should bode well for all of us seeking to learn more in the next year, as more companies share their stories.

- Jason Busch

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