10 Steps to Starting a Sustainable Purchasing Program

The Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) is an international network of buyers dedicated to socially responsible and environmentally sustainable purchasing.

10 Steps to Starting a Sustainable Purchasing Program

1. Assemble a Sustainable Purchasing Team

  • Identify key players and other resources
  • Assign responsibilities
  • Get input early from end-users and other stakeholdersLogo for Responsible Purchasing Network
  • Get support from the top

2. Establish a process for working together

  • Create goals, a timeline and a meeting schedule

3. Define the scope of the sustainable procurement initiative(s) 

  • Target environmental problems to solve under the program
  • Review existing policy drivers and practices
  • Adopt or revise your Sustainable Procurement Policy, if needed

4. Prioritize contracts to change 

  • Look for products with greatest impact
  • Identify low-hanging fruit (including products for which there are existing specifications, certifications or cooperative purchasing opportunities)
  • Determine contract re-bid schedule

5. Research environmentally preferable alternatives  

  • Evaluate availability, price, environmental attributes and performance of potential substitutes
  • Conduct pilot tests with end-users, if desirable or necessary
  • Develop a strategy for incorporating environmental considerations into your bid solicitation process

6. Revise bid specifications 

  • Identify potential vendors of products that meet your specifications and solicit their feedback
  • Develop bid specifications, bid forms, and bid evaluation criteria
  • Develop contract language for information disclosure, product take-back, packaging requirements, etc.

7. Evaluate bids

  • Assess both mandatory requirements and desirable attributes
  • Issue new contracts

8. Advertise the availability of sustainable products on new contracts 

  • Educate using web sites, “list serves”, purchasing bulletins, EPP guides
  • Publicize through Cooperative Purchasing Programs
  • Inform end-users about existing environmental policies and goals
  • Encourage vendors to educate and market environmental goods and services

9. Get feedback from end-users

  • Address problems as soon as they arise

10. Track and publicize successes

  • Quantify economic and environmental benefits
  • Celebrate and reward participants!
  • Identify obstacles and additional work to be done

You can find more information about the Responsible Purchasing Network at the RPN website. You may also want to look over the information below about how Transformations Furniture can help you take some giant strides toward renewability.
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