Green procurement can look vastly different depending upon the size of a business and the industry. From renewable building materials to recyclable coffee cups, there are opportunities to make choices that benefit our environment and health at every turn.
But for small businesses, oftentimes a leased office space limits your decision-making power in areas of opportunity such as the landscape company utilized (and its methods of pest control) or the type of lighting installed by building maintenance.
There are, however, purchasing decisions you can make today in your efforts to go green that can have an immediate, positive impact for our environment.
Batteries taken to landfills can release harmful metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium into the environment, as well as corrosive materials and an assortment of harmful chemicals. Rechargeable batteries have 28 times less impact on global warming, 30 times less impact on air pollution, 9 times less impact on air acidification, and 12 times less impact on water pollution. Additionally, they consume up to 23 times less non-renewable natural resources than disposable batteries.
Unbleached or chlorine-free paper products
Chlorine and chlorine derivatives used in paper manufacturing produce dioxin, which is one of the top 12 toxic pollutants categorized as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Paper vendors should be able to verify a paper’s chlorine-free processing status either directly from the paper manufacturer or from the pulp supplier.
This is a buzz word in many industries right now, but an important aspect of green procurement. Reducing your procurement of paper products by switching to electronic forms, contracts, and paperwork can have a big impact on paper consumption. One tree typically produces 16.67 reams of paper. A case of paper contains 10 reams. For every case and a half used in your office, one tree is required. That might not sound like much, but the demand for paper in our nation currently results in 4 billion trees being cut down annually.
Purchase recycling bins and select a collection service for your office. This may seem like one of the most obvious solutions, but most people don’t know the full impact of the choice to recycle. Let’s use paper as an example. Recycling one ton of paper can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,000 kilowatts of energy — enough to power the average U.S. home for six months. For context, the US produced over 411 million metric tons (slightly larger than the US definition of a ton) of paper in 2014.
Make an impact
These are just a few of the many ways green procurement can lead the way in sustainable business practices. Large companies often have a dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility officer in place to help procurement implement initiatives like these. For smaller companies, an easy way to get a green procurement program up and running is to form a green committee. Find employees in your organization who are interested in making a positive impact in this area. Collect their ideas and solicit their help in implementation.
One person could be tasked with finding local recycling drop-offs and instructions for recycling different items such as electronics, paper, aluminum, etc. Another could organize a company-wide training to educate team members on new initiatives and best practices. A third person could help re-write a standard RFP to include language surrounding energy-efficiency, carbon disclosure, and more.
Businesses of all sizes can implement these simple practices within their organization and we can all take up "green" habits in our own lives as well. Together, we can make a difference and strive to make a positive impact on our planet.
Do you need assistance sourcing the items mentioned above to help your organization go green? Contact Una today to learn more!