Today I received a copy of the latest “The CSR Report” publication in Romania (No. 4, available here), which will include my piece on the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) “Sustainable Procurement” standard, ISO20400, finalised and launched last June. As I write in the article:

With this, our industry now has a common framework to tackle the next frontier in sustainability: our purchases. As I have experienced in my home country Australia, this has the potential to transform industries; businesses can quickly capture market share, claim sustainability leadership, simultaneously reduce costs and increase quality, and improve business resilience. And it can transform Romania.

But I should make one distinction here; I am not talking about organic and sustainable food, ethical fashion, or other eco products that we buy as consumers. In this context, I am referring to corporate procurement. Buying the goods and services that enable an organisation to operate: raw materials, other inputs to production, outsourced services, maintenance services, operational goods like stationery, and operational services like IT support. The purchasing power of businesses dwarfs that of consumers; about 80% of a company’s environmental impacts come from its supply chain rather than internal operations, and businesses spend 40-80% of their total revenue on these areas. This is the biggest opportunity for change.

Corporate sustainable procurement was extremely popular and important around the time I left Australia, and it was part of a global movement of sustainability professionals examining their supply chains. Soon, I expect the sustainability expectations and demands for Romania’s most important industries to start growing quickly.

Essentially, the article explains this as an opportunity. It implores Romanian managers to jump ahead in the dialogue, because if they can start showing their sustainability strengths before their competitors do, it will help them retain and grow their contracts, and take their competitor’s.

The article was kindly translated by the folks at The CSR Agency, so I attach the English version of the article here.

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