Green procurement is the adoption of ecologically responsible practices in business activities used to meet needs for materials, goods, utilities and services. The approach is one component of sustainable procurement along with a dedication to social responsibility and good corporate citizenship.
Companies sometimes make an individual purchasing decision with an eye to its ecological impact, realizing the positive public relations benefits that action may bring. Green procurement, however, is a continuous commitment to start-to-finish process management with consideration for environmental impact. The product lifecycle and its ecologic impact through production, operation, maintenance and disposal are all considered in green procurement. Similarly to choices in products, service providers are chosen with ecological consideration in mind, including a commitment to the use of less harmful or environmentally friendly products and practices to provide their services.
Green procurement and the related supply chain sustainability requires coordination and collaboration with internal and external supply chain partners to reexamine delivery methods, products and packaging and measurement systems. Environmentally responsible or green procurement is the selection of products and services that minimize environmental impacts. It requires a company or organisation to carry out an assessment of the environmental consequences of a product at all the various stages of its
lifecycle. This means considering the costs of securing raw materials, and manufacturing, transporting, storing, handling, using and disposing of the product.
Green procurement is rooted in the principle of pollution prevention, which strives to eliminate or to reduce risks of human health and the environment. It means evaluating purchases based on a variety of criteria, ranging from the necessity of the purchase in the first place to the options available for its eventful disposal. Consumers, investors, shareholders and regulatory agencies are increasingly demanding that organisations behave in an environmentally responsible manner. Practicing green procurement demonstrates an organisation‘s commitment to considering and minimizing the environmental consequences of its activities. It thus makes both environmental and economic sense. Green products are generally produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources or
uses them more sustainably, as with sustainable forestry. There may involve less energy in their manufacture and may consume less energy when being used, and they generally contain fewer hazardous toxic materials.
Green products are also generally designed with the intention of reducing the amount of waste created. For example, they may contain recycled material or use less packaging, and the supplier may operate a ―take-back‖ program. Green procurement can also offer cost savings. In particular, buying ‗green‘ usually involves products that are easily recycled, last longer or produce less waste. Money is therefore saved on waste disposal. In addition, green products generally require fewer resources to manufacture and operate, so savings can be made on energy, water, fuel and other natural resources. Moreover green products generally involve fewer toxic or hazardous materials, reducing associated expenses such as permit fees, toxic materials handling charges and staff training.
Organizations often require a green procurement program as part of their environmental management system, as certified under the EMAS and ISO 14001 regimes. In addition, new sustainable development act in Manitoba, for example, requires all publicly funded organizations to integrate procurement guidelines into their daily operating practices. Meeting these and other environmental regulations is easier for organizations that already practice green procurement.
Green procurement also has benefits for health and safety, both of workplaces and of the wiser community. Organizations that practice green procurement will also be recognized as good corporate citizens and influence those around them. As markets gradually change, the availability of green products will increase and prices will fall.