3 Areas of Focus For More Sustainable Procurement Practices

By: CovestAdmin
April 10, 2023

With procurement at the helm of supply chain management, a focus on improving sustainability initiatives can maximize impact and savings. When working with your GPO and supplier partners, concentrate on products and services that can help support and achieve your organization’s sustainability goals. Here we examine three focus areas for procurement with outsize outcomes.

1. Facility Efficiency

Implementing green processes in your facilities can significantly reduce negative impacts on the environment. According to the World Economic Forum, buildings consume 40% of global energy and contribute 33% to greenhouse gas emissions. A change in the way you manage your facility’s suitability efforts can lead to a 3% increase in productivity, a 30% reduction in employee absenteeism, and a 5% increase in talent attraction (Stok 2018). Begin changing your operations to minimize its harmful impact on the environment and people with these two methods:

Energy Management Across the Organization

CoVest supplier partner, Logical Utilities, takes a consultative approach and works with organizations towards a net-zero future. These sustainability initiatives encompass “on-site staff behavioral training, teaching staff from boardroom to shop floor to work sustainably, procuring green energy contracts, project management and installation of renewable energy generators, carbon offsetting schemes and technology to track energy consumption at site level to manage and reduce usage across the organization.”

Addressing the Elephant in the (IT) Room

Data Center optimization enhances energy savings by keeping your total cost of ownership down and your operations up. According to the EPA, it is estimated that U.S. data centers use over 70 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, which is more than 1.8% of total U.S. consumption. Heat generated by networking equipment and their necessary cooling products consume a tremendous amount of energy. “Graybar network systems specialists can advise on solutions that range from efficient data center design and use of IT rooms, closets and rack space to intelligent solutions that can control, monitor and reduce energy costs up to 30 percent.”

Bonus: Facility upgrades such as lighting retrofits, data center optimization, HVAC maintenance and efficiencies, and a facility assessment scorecard are additional areas to focus procurement’s sustainability efforts, facility efficiencies, and impactful savings.


2. Closed-Loop Manufacturing

Each year, companies in the United States generate and dispose 7.6 billion tons of non-hazardous industrial solid waste. Incorporating a closed-loop manufacturing strategy not only decreases your organization’s contribution to that amount but also lowers costs and increases efficiency. Instead of a straight line moving from raw materials to production to consumer to landfill, closed-loop manufacturing ensures your materials can be reborn into something new with fewer environmental impacts.

By understanding your products’ lifecycle, you can take measurements, make adjustments to the product accordingly, and reset your KPIs. In doing so, you will see substantial long-term savings, increase security of raw material supply, less reliance on external suppliers, garner a positive public perception, and, of course, reduce any negative impacts on the environment. Here are two methods that can help your organization begin the closed-loop process:

Sustainably Efficient Equipment

Sustainable efforts should begin at your products inception. Making office equipment smaller and lighter, while increasing its performance, is one way to reduce raw materials and energy consumption. Another way to conserve energy is through closed material-loop manufacturing of plastics from end-of-life multi-functional printers and incorporating those plastics back into the manufacture of new models.Konica Minolta has made significant strides in green office products, reducing environmental impacts and decommissioning office equipment.

From Hand to Land

Also look for eco-friendly products, including those with minimal packaging, recycled content, or created from biodegradable material! SHOWA launched their Eco Best Technology (EBT) gloves in 2012 as the industry’s first biodegradable nitrile glove.

Did you know that of the 150 billion pairs of gloves produced every year, an estimated 100 billion pairs of gloves are thrown away annually? As a result, piles of gloves end up in landfills each year.

Thanks to its special composition, SHOWA’S EBT gloves decompose within 1 to 5 years in active landfills, where regular nitrile gloves need more than 100 years.” CoVest has recently developed an OEM partnership with SHOWA available to CoVest Members through the Grainger program. Contact us to learn more, memteam@covest.com

3. Site Recycling

Recycling is a common area procurement can focus on to work towards increased sustainability and reduced costs. It can be beneficial to implement a national recycling program for office sites, but concentrating on the plant / facility level would require a far more comprehensive recycling program with an in-depth analysis of waste streams. You can improve you’re recycling strategy and reduce waste through Republic Services BluePrint™ Waste Assessment. Identify potential recycling materials that are being mixed in with waste streams; recycling these materials could help your business be more sustainable and through rebates, achieve cost savings. Prevent cross-contamination in manufacturing recycling and learn more about what types of recycling markets are available for your facility.

Republic Services offers solutions for manufacturers through modern landfills, saltwater wells, industrial wells, and waste treatment options. In addition, Republic Services has state-of-the-art facilities, like their Plano, TX facility, which uses highly advanced sorting technologies to process 350 tons of recyclable material per day – separating material in milliseconds. This includes optical sorters, next-generation anti-wrap fiber screens and other innovative techniques. Additionally, an automated, touch screen control system and tablet-based capabilities allow for real-time systems management and monitoring, data acquisition and remote access from anywhere in the world.

Procurement can play a key role in working towards a more sustainable future and these are a few areas to focus concerted efforts to gain momentum on your organization’s goals.

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