Finding the Intersection of Sustainability and Sourcing

White paper from Spend Matters finds that leading organizations are adopting green procurement practices to drive bottom-line benefits and competitive advantage

Chicago — October 13, 2008 — The worlds of sustainability and sourcing intersect in new best practices that are enabling leading organizations to "go green" while also bringing bottom-line benefits to the table, according to a new white paper from Spend Matters, the industry blog.

Many organizations still view "green" as a marketing tool, highlighting efforts to reduce their environmental impact in response to heightened consumer interest in the eco-friendliness of the businesses they patronize.

However, Spend Matters, headlined by longtime sourcing and procurement blogger Jason Busch, writes that "more advanced procurement organizations" are going beyond corporate social responsibility as a way of boosting their companies' competitiveness in the marketplace.

"Some measure these savings in direct cost reduction and cost avoidance. Others look at soft factors such as maintaining access to resources and risk avoidance. But both types of organizations have expanded their definition of green and sustainable procurement initiatives to not only meet regulatory requirements and fuel their sales and marketing efforts, but also to maintain and enhance their competitive position in the market overall," Busch writes in a Spend Matters white paper called "Redefining Sustainability: Saving Money, Reducing Risk and Going Green."

These procurement organizations have been reluctant to publicize their successes to date, according to the white paper, because they still view their projects as a competitive advantage over their peers, or they fear negative publicity from non-governmental organizations working on green issues.

But Busch says that, through conversations with industry insiders, he has divined emerging best practices that the leaders are using to drive savings while pursuing green and sustainability. These include adopting a more flexible strategic sourcing process that takes into account "soft factors" such as safety, quality, environmental concerns and overall supplier stability.

In addition, the white paper suggests taking a more collaborative approach to working with suppliers in pursuit of green interests, for example, by allowing suppliers to offer substitute goods or materials during the sourcing process. "In contrast to more confrontational approaches to negotiation, this type of collaborative effort can also help solidify relations with suppliers," Busch writes.

The paper goes on to offer additional examples of the practices that leading organizations are adopting and provides recommendations for turning green into a "bottom line" issue within the enterprise.

The white paper is available free for download (registration required) at