The first international standard to help businesses develop and implement sustainable purchasing practices and policies has been launched.
The International Organisation for Standardisation has published ISO 20400 for sustainable procurement, enabling companies to vet their supply chains for ethical and environmental impacts.
The new standard provides guidelines for integrating sustainability into an organisation’s procurement policy strategy and process, defining the principles of sustainable procurement such as accountability, transparency, respect for human rights and ethical behaviour.
Jacques Schramm, Chair of ISO/PC 277, the project committee that developed the standard, believes the benefits of sustainable procurement can be far-reaching.
He said: “It is no longer enough for businesses to rely on suppliers to provide them with what they want, no questions asked. Organisations benefit greatly from getting to know their suppliers – understanding what their requirements are as well – to ensure their demands are not unrealistic and that the suppliers they work with have good, ethical practices.
“The risks of not understanding and managing practices throughout the whole supply chain are great. At best, poor quality products or ruptures of stock can result. At worst, disasters like the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 can happen. Sustainable procurement helps to minimise risks such as these by encouraging buyers and suppliers to work closely together for a better result for all.”
The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh is said to be the worst ever industrial incident to hit the garment industry. The incident led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people and left thousands more injured.