Driving Sustainability: The Strategic Shift in Procurement for a Circular Future

By Karen Daniels, Principal, Pedersen & Partners:

Driving Sustainability: The Strategic Shift in Procurement for a Circular Future

In my 20 years as a Procurement Professional, I have witnessed and been part of the evolution of procurement from a back-office operational activity to a strategic function. Gone are the days when procurement was just about squeezing suppliers for the best deals, placing orders and making sure the goods arrived on time. There has been a professionalising of the function and radical developments over the last 2 to 3 decades elevating procurement to a strategic partner to the business.

In organisations today, where sustainability is the new license to operate, it is the procurement teams that are the unsung heroes leading the charge towards a more sustainable future. By prioritising suppliers who are embracing sustainability in their operations and responsible sourcing, procurement is closing the loop on waste and emissions. They're not just buying products; they're transforming how things are made.

From Raw Materials to Remanufacturing:

  • Procurement favours bio-based and recycled raw materials
  • They push for low-carbon, energy-efficient manufacturing
  • Remanufacturing old parts saves up to 85% of energy vs. new

But it's not just about the planet – it's about people too!

  • They champion fair labour practices and living wages
  • Prioritise suppliers who support local communities
  • Good governance and transparency are non-negotiable

And they are including these fundamentals in their supplier screening and onboarding, asking their suppliers about their sustainability goals, how are they ensuring human rights best practices in their operations and their strategies for reducing the impact on the environment.

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