Posts Tagged ‘sustainable purchasing’

New Report Reveals Trends & Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing and Ethical Sourcing

May 12, 2011

The following article has been re-posted with permission from our friends at Reeve Consulting and originally appeared on the Reeve Consulting blog.

Read on to learn about the current status of sustainable purchasing among Canadian municipalities. There’s also an introduction to an innovative project called the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing, a group of municipalities from across the country that are leveraging their collective experiences and resources to improve their sustainable purchasing practices.

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing recently released the first annual Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report, the most comprehensive discussion of municipal sustainable purchasing and ethical sourcing in Canada to date.

Beyond revealing key trends across the country and valuable best practices, the report offers a national snapshot of how Canadian municipalities are implementing sustainable purchasing programs.

Complete with a listing of common program barriers and recommended solutions, the report is a valuable resource for municipal decision-makers looking to implement impactful sustainable purchasing programming.

>> Download the Summary Report.

The full report is available from Reeve Consulting by request at tim@reeveconsulting.com or 604-763-6829.

Status of municipal sustainable purchasing in Canada

Sustainable purchasing has become a hot topic in the municipal sector. Few other internal sustainability initiatives can directly contribute to multiple civic agendas around zero waste, climate leadership, economic development, staff engagement, risk mitigation, improved operational efficiencies and cost reductions.

While comprehensive sustainable purchasing is still a relatively new field for local governments, municipalities are finding the support they require through the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP). Formed in 2010 as a pilot project, the MCSP is comprised of a group of Canadian municipalities that are leveraging their collective experiences, knowledge and resources to strengthen their respective sustainable purchasing programs.

The Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report documents the great wealth of expertise shared by these and other local governments, pulling from them practical insights for municipalities looking to advance their sustainable purchasing practices.

Emerging Trends in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Key findings of the study show that municipalities continue to give priority to environmental issues over social or ethical considerations. The study also found that achieving some noteworthy early returns on investment, particularly a strong financial return, is key for generating momentum and further senior support for the advancement of sustainable purchasing practices. Municipalities say that their efforts are focused on developing realistic annual action plans, implementing policies or guidelines and collaborating with others to share experiences and resources.

Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Readers wanting to fast track their efforts will find great value in the report’s identification and description of the 10 Program Success Factors required to maximize the impacts and benefits of sustainable purchasing.

Among these elements are following a written action plan, defining a clear sustainable purchasing policy and product guidelines, developing supplier scorecards and Codes of Conduct that outline fair labour standards, providing adequate training for purchasing and staff and engaging directly with suppliers in sustainability conversations.

These and more best practices are discussed in detail in the summary and full report.

Municipalities team up to overcome the challenges

The release of the report also marks the first year of full-fledged programming for the MCSP, which through its collaboration and resource sharing programs will help participating municipalities address challenges and priorities raised in the 2010 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report. This includes seeking goods and services that conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize waste, as well as increasingly using scorecards and eco-labels to evaluate suppliers based on multiple social and environmental measures.

Key activities and tangible deliverables for the MCSP in 2011 include:

  • 4 best practices peer exchange teleconferences
  • 2 technical training webinars on focusing specific best practices
  • The 2011 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report
  • Individual customized action planning sessions for each municipality
  • Access to a helpful resource library

Fast Track your Municipal Sustainable Purchasing Program – join the MCSP

Local governments of all sizes are invited to participate in the MCSP. If you’re interested in joining the project, or would like more information, please contact Tim Reeve at tim@reeveconsulting.com or Kevin McCarty at kevin@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.

The MCSP project is led by a steering committee comprised of the cities of Edmonton, Ottawa, London, Whitehorse and Victoria and is being facilitated by Reeve Consulting.

Sustainable Purchasing & Eco-Labels

May 16, 2010

Flickr / schizoform

A couple weeks ago I attended a Metro Vancouver Community Sustainability Breakfast. The focus of this month’s session was sustainable purchasing and eco-labels. Metro Vancouver did a great job in selecting speakers. The panel featured Trevor Bowden from Big Room Inc., Tim Reeve of Reeve Consulting and Bob Purdy from the Fraser Basin Council.

Ecolabelling.org

The session started with a ‘big picture’ description of eco-labels by Trevor Bowden. Big Room Inc. is the creator of ecolabelling.org, a website which hosts a database of all the eco-labels available on the marketplace. It’s a really helpful, free tool which anyone can use to look up a specific eco-label and find out the type of products it covers, the length of time its been in existence, how products are verified, links to additional resources and more. Basically it allows visitors to judge eco-labels on a variety of merits, and determine which programs are in line with their concerns.

So many eco-labels to consider…

Given the great number and range of eco-labels currently in action (ecolabelling.org tracks more than 300 different programs!) Trevor suggested breaking them down into categories based on the number of environmental attributes and life cycle phases a label covers. Energy Star, for example, is considered a single stage, single issue label since it looks at consumer use of a product and the amount of energy the item consumes. Ecologo on the other hand is a multi-stage, multi-issue label since it examines the manufacture, use and disposal of products and a variety of environmental attributes.

When choosing an eco-label, a good starting point is considering what the largest impacts of a given product will be. For example, with a new computer, certified sustainable packaging isn’t nearly as valuable as a logo recognizing low energy consumption or clean production.

Characteristics of a good eco-logo

To further simplify your eco-logo choices, Trevor shed some light on the characteristics of good ones, including:

  1. Independent 3rd party verification of claims – A party other than the manufacturer or certifying body has verified the claims. A study from Yale University showed the most trusted eco-labels are validated by environmental groups. Not surprisingly, the least trusted are validated by industry.
  2. Life-cycle based – The entire life of the product is considered
  3. An open and  transparent standard development process
  4. Publicly available standards

An additional characteristic Trevor raised is the level to which an eco-label is “future proof”, meaning that as new standards and science develops, the eco-label is able to adapt and change.

The International Standard Organization (ISO) has put together a group of standards for governing environmental labeling. You can read more about it on the ISO website.

Eco-labels for purchasers

While these guidelines and tools are helpful, without a deep understanding of the field and exposure to constant updates, it can still be tricky to choose an eco-logo program that represents your organization’s needs.

(more…)

Shanghai’d – Day 4 New Sewing Factory

January 7, 2010

Suggestion box for worker complaints

Day 4 found me at a new bag sewing facility we plan on working with near Shanghai. It’s run by Jorden Rosenberg, a Canadian guy (from Forest Hill Collegiate, like a # of the guys I seem to be meeting here) and it was great to see the Chinese and Canadian flags flying high at the entrance of his facility. I planned my trip to both check out his products and facility and meet the auditor from Openview, who we had arranged to audit the facility.

Jordan runs a great factory and difference between this facility and the one at Huaitai was immediately noticeable. The scale of the operation is much larger but the sophistication of their production processes was of a different standard. In addition to the bag workshop Jordan also runs Motherwear, a women’s maternity wear online retailer (check it out for fabulous bamboo and other products) and manages production for that line in his facility.

The facility was well laid out, with clear signage vis a vis fire safety and first aid. The attention to detail on the quality control front was impressive and they were working for major brands from all over North America and Europe. (more…)

Shanghai’d Day 2

January 3, 2010

Offerings at the Confucious Temple

Spent the day wandering the streets and neighbourhoods of Shanghai – Fuxing Park, Xintiandi, Confucius Temple & Yuyuan Gardens. Wandered down many an alley through ‘wet’ markets full of seafood, veggies, frogs and other unidentifiable things.

Cargo bikes - very impressive.

Marveled at the kites, sites and madness on the streets where a mix of buses, taxis, cars, mopeds, bikes and pedestrians try to co-exist without too many casualties. Loved the bikes, the bike lanes, the bike parking and the cargo bikes – very inspiring.

And what up with the donuts? There are a serious number of donut shops in this city, Mister Donut, Dunkin Donuts, Donut Express – it seems fried dough is universally loved.

The enormous amount of development on what seems like every corner is for the upcoming World Expo this summer – the Expo logo is everywhere as are the little blue mascots that look alarmingly like gumby. (more…)

Shanghai’d Day 1

January 2, 2010

Photo by Jakob Montrasio

Arrived last night in the hazy, warm early evening vowing to not go straight to bed  (which my body was telling me to do after a 10 hour flight and 15 hour time change). I was last in Shanghai in 1999 and my has it changed. Apparently it now homes 20+ million people, 1+ million of those are ex-pats and it has grown skyward at a dizzying rate.

I’m here on a rather whirlwind tour visiting 3 factories we work with manufacturing tote bags. I’m here to meet factory management and  work with them on the status of corrective action plans coming from a series of social compliance audits we did earlier this year. And schedule permitting, I’ll be adding updates, photos and videos of the week as I go.

While I was immediately hit with the modern cosmo flair of the city at dinner & drinks last night – it was a rude reminder of where I am when I realized I can’t log into Facebook, Twitter, etc. – it seems that last summer in advance of Tianamen Square anniversary, most social media access was blocked by the Chinese goverment (will see if this post loads, WordPress is on that list).

Ethical & sustainable purchasing around the dinner table

December 15, 2009

This post was written by Tim Reeve of Reeve Consulting and re-posted with his permission. For more great posts, view the full Reeve Consulting Blog.

Photo by nodomain.cc

What happens when you bring some of the leading policy makers and practitioners in ethical and sustainable purchasing together over dinner? Lively and informative discussion on maintaining VANOC’s Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing (ESP) momentum, the influence of larger contracts vs. smaller ones, concerns of audit fatigue, as well as the importance of supplier engagement and looking inward at your own practices were all subjects discussed in a recent congregation of Vancouver-based thought leaders.

On November 30th Reeve Consulting hosted an Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing dinner with the goal of facilitating conversation between some of Vancouver’s movers and shakers and exploring the opportunities and challenges facing the ESP movement. (more…)


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