Sustainability – It’s the New Black for Strategic Sourcing and Procurement

Sustainability – What Does it Really Mean?

The increasing effects of polution on the world, has changed consumer, business, and governemental behavior.  No longer is it ‘ok’ to have an underwater oil spill causing irreperable damage to an entire ecosystem, or cutting down half the rainforest for profit, or even drive gas guzzling SUV’s that spew out obnoxious amount of air pollution.

While looking for a better life consumers are searching for options that are healthier for them, their homes, and future generations. No longer can we turn our heads, and pretend that what we are doing doesn’t have a larger impact than we could ever imagine.

Now I’m not blaming the Silent Generation and the Boomers, but I kind of am pointing my finger a bit their way. Maybe it was out of ignorance, or maybe they knew and just didn’t care.

Either way, the damage that was caused must now change into more sustainable business practices and consumer behavior.

So it’s no wonder the younger generations have taken it up with pride. They know the effects earlier generations have caused, and are actively seeking to change these practices to save the environment.

What does sustainability really mean?

Maybe it’s caring about your impact on the world, influencing governmental mandates, caring about future generations, and owning your carbon footprint.

Or maybe it’s taking into consideration the environmental impact of every move you make. Either way, it’s ensuring we all have a future.

At the end of the day, the majority of consumers are willing to pay a premium to ensure the companies products they are buying are not only sustainable for the long term, but are organic in nature for the short term (think biodegradable).

So for new or existing suppliers in the market place, sustainability must be top of mind. Without it, they will lose share to companies who have made it a priority.


A 'Natural' Rise in Sustainability Around the World

When it comes to purchase behavior, it’s become abundantly clear that consumers care. In fact, the majority (73%) of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

Nielsen Insights Article

The Rise of Sustainability in Sourcing and Procurement

If there is only one theme in the world of strategic sourcing and procurement, it’s constant change. And as Category Managers, you tend to get used to it. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that there is a huge increase in the movement for sustainable practices. Especially, since it’s a step in the direction to modernize the entire ecosystem.

To be able to say that you changed each process and that they are sustainable, you better first address the three main pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental.

Which basically means, you better be able to quantify cost and impact, and be proactive in finding suppliers that are focused on the same. Their supply chain impact will have just a sizable one as your own. Because let’s get one thing straight, it’s a direct reflection of you as a consumer or as a large corporation.

Why focus on Sustainable Sourcing Practices?


First, you don’t want to be that person or business who intends to watch the world burn around in an attempt to find profit. Being an a-hole is so last season. But, there are more legitimate concerns including:

  • Brand Image (attractiveness to younger generations who will be purchasing your product based on this)
  • Financial (by assessing the entire lifecycle of your business and it’s impact on the environment)
  • Values and Ethics (it’s the right thing to do, so just do it!)
  • Risk Management (who knows when the government will throw another mandate your way!)

Ms Category Management and Sustainability

Now I’m not saying I’m Ms environmental sourcing partner of the year. Far from it. I recently had an argument with a business partner who wanted me to pick out the plastic bottle I threw in the trash to make sure it was in the recycle bin. Spoiler Alert – she ended up doing it for me.

What I am saying is that we’d be all remiss to jump on the bandwagon. If Sustainable Sourcing is the new black, we better all get our acts together to ensure we have a process in place to ensure it’s a success.

Since strategic sourcing is all about change and adaptation, we might as well lead the way to ensure we have something left for our future generations and brand image. Otherwise we might as well name our groups the SS Titanic!

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