Implementing a responsible purchasing policy

With the new regulations on sustainable development aimed at companies in the public sector, it is necessary to undertake a transformation to meet CSR criteria. Soon, companies in the private sector will also be affected by these obligations. The aim: to reduce the environmental impact of companies on society. More and more action is being taken to adopt more respectful practices and protect the environment as effectively as possible.

In this article, find out what you need to know about establishing a responsible purchasing policy. In the digital age, with a view to protecting the environment and promoting social progress, software has been developed to provide a framework for optimising purchasing processes and making them more effective.

Definition of responsible purchasing

Responsible purchasing is recognised for taking account of social and environmental requirements. The criteria of ethics, quality and price are important when a company wishes to make sustainable purchases. This is purchasing that guarantees respect for human rights, workers’ rights, health and safety standards and so on. The concept is increasingly used by companies concerned about environmental criteria, especially as current legislation is turning in their favour.

Responsible purchasing advocates respect for the environment. It is ethical and high-quality purchasing. Companies must take into account all aspects of the environment. They must ensure that their products do not harm either the environment or citizens. They must also respect consumers. This means that they must think about the consequences of their choices on the people who use these products.

The concept of responsible purchasing therefore represents an opportunity for companies wishing to implement a Corporate Social Responsibility approach. Buying sustainably means improving existing practices for the benefit of the environment.

Why establish a sustainable purchasing policy?

Establishing a strategy based on sustainable development is synonymous with change for the company. Instead of making more traditional purchases that do not necessarily take account of current environmental and societal issues, it is now possible to make so-called responsible purchases.

A sustainable purchasing policy has many benefits, including reduced costs, optimised business performance and greater efficiency. Indeed, with purchases that require less packaging or that favour short distribution channels, the company benefits. What’s more, it allows them to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices. Gone are the days of energy-consuming equipment, replaced by more economical consumption. Implementing this type of policy will certainly lead to changes, but they will be changes that are good for the environment.

This sustainable purchasing policy represents a real stake in a company’s success. The aim of the National Sustainable Procurement Plan is to ensure that companies include at least one social and environmental dimension in their public procurement contracts. Including sustainable purchasing means taking into account the company’s environmental and social impact, as well as making savings. This makes it easier for companies to meet their needs. What’s more, the policy fosters good supplier relations. The quality of these relationships will only improve.

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Implementing a responsible purchasing policy

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable development. For the purchasing function, this represents a real lever for business performance.

To begin with, it is important to understand the realities of the market and take stock of the company’s past purchases. Identifying what and how much the company buys is an important element in understanding and controlling its operations.

Secondly, we need to define the objectives and the various actions that will enable us to achieve them. In addition to this, there are a number of supplier procedures that need to be incorporated into the policy. The aim is to establish a healthy and trusting relationship with future suppliers and to maintain good supplier relations. When invitations to tender are issued, suppliers can be evaluated to encourage this type of relationship.

Implementing a responsible purchasing policy means rolling it out internally, where it is important to raise awareness and offer training to employees. Suppliers must also be informed of this new purchasing policy so that they can take it into account. This will ensure that the company has a good reputation with its suppliers and will also encourage responsible purchasing. Communicating with suppliers and other stakeholders is essential to ensure smooth operations and improved performance.

However, it is important not to forget the standards, in particular ISO 26000, which sets out the seven main principles of the CSR approach. It is very important in the application of purchasing policy because it contributes to sustainable development. Another standard, NF X50-135-1, is designed to facilitate the operational implementation of a CSR policy.

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The importance of life cycle analysis

In a responsible purchasing strategy, life cycle analysis is a method that must be taken into account. This analysis makes it possible to estimate quantitatively the impact of products and services on the environment. It also covers the impact of human activities linked to the use of natural resources and raw materials.

To do this, the analysis concerns incoming and outgoing flows. The idea is to gather information and study it. Using life cycle analysis (LCA), it is possible to compare two products that have the same role, but use different materials, for example. Once this work has been carried out, the company can deduce which product has the greatest impact on the environment and take steps to deal with the results. These include pollutant emissions such as greenhouse gases, which have harmful effects on the environment and society.

However, since LCA has a number of weaknesses, the method should be seen as an aid to decision-making. The results of the analyses can be used to make recommendations, reduce environmental risks and improve the system. It is important to integrate product life cycle analysis into your responsible purchasing policy.

If you had any doubts about implementing a responsible purchasing policy, you should know that you won’t be alone in the process. Purchasing management tools exist to structure your purchasing process and help you achieve your objectives. Establishing a sustainable purchasing policy remains a complex process, but if you follow our advice, it will be more accessible and easier to put in place. The long-term objective is to achieve improved performance and better returns.


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