All purchasing practices have the ability to deliver outcomes beyond the simple delivery of goods, services and works. Sustainable procurement is an approach to assessing “total cost” of purchasing, including economic, social and environmental costs (“triple bottom line”). Traditionally, economic cost has been the key consideration in procurement, but this is evolving towards a “triple bottom line” approach as procurement practices increase in sophistication.
Practical benefits of adopting a sustainable procurement approach include:
- Meeting community expectations regarding sustainability
- Avoidance of supply chain management issues relating to unsustainable practices
- Cost savings through procurement of more efficient goods and services
- Showing leadership in the adoption and delivery of innovative solutions
With annual expenditure of nearly $1 billion on goods, services and works, the local government sector in South Australia has a key role in delivering sustainability outcomes and objectives.
The local government sector can formally integrate sustainable procurement processes in their procurement policies and procedures (and broader values and governance), but can also ask general questions in reviewing their current practices. Such questions could include (adapted from WALGA Sustainable Procurement Guide 2017):
- Are our procurement practices and decisions delivering the best value to our community?
- Are our procurement practices and decisions causing short or long-term environmental issues, either locally or through the entire supply chain? If so, how can this be addressed?
- Are our procurement practices and decisions considering the social impacts through the entire supply chain, including use of slave labour, poverty, repression and inequality?
- How does our current procurement policy address these issues (and others), or what do we need to change to ensure they get considered in future procurement processes?
Within the procurement planning phase undertaken by a council, consideration should be given to the development of a procurement strategy that will ensure delivery of a council's sustainable procurement objectives.
LGA Procurement also considers a range of matters relating to sustainable procurement in the establishment of preferred supplier panels.
For further information relating to sustainable procurement, see the below resources: