Business supports Govt sustainable procurement
9th October 2006
Business supports Government's acceleration of sustainable procurement policies to tackle climate change
The Government's announcement that it is instructing central government agencies to accelerate the adoption of sustainable procurement practices is welcome.
More than a decade after the Government initiated its Environmental Choice label - a key part of its Govt3 sustainable procurement initiative - business has been concerned that some state buyers still award contracts apparently based on lower cost only. Today's announcement by the Minister for the Environment is an important part of changing attitudes towards procurement, says Peter Neilson, Chief Executive of the Business Council for Sustainable Development.
"If all of the 47 agencies, that are signed up to the Govt3 procurement programme, value the environmental performance of their suppliers alongside the cost and quality of the goods and services when they award tenders, this will lead to a major shift to sustainable procurement."
"We have been strong advocates of the need for central and local government to include sustainability criteria in their tendering process because their procurement policies are the sleeping giant which will make sustainable purchasing practices mainstream."
Neilson also agrees that targeting buildings and vehicle purchasing is the right move because these areas will have the biggest impact:
"If all new buildings and renovations include sustainable materials and resources as standard, we will really see the market change. At the moment sustainable buildings are very much the exception, a novelty, with builders confused about what they are been asked to do. We need to change all of that. We are also encouraged by the Government's plan to audit agencies with fleets of over 50 cars and addressing the "carbon footprint" of their travel impacts. These proposals will have much more substance than simply focusing on what type of paper we use in the office."
Neilson cautions however that change will be slow unless the potential additional costs of preferring sustainable products over the cheapest option, are factored into the Government's procurement policy and whole of life principles are applied to the process. Best value for money means more than just the best price and transparency. Up-front costs can also be offset by reduced travel, lower fuel bills and more efficient use of resources.
Business already knows this. Business Council members including Accor Hotels, Westpac, The Warehouse, IAG NZ and others are applying sustainability screening criteria to their procurement process.
"We look forward to working with the Govt 3 team to help make this a reality. We also encourage more local councils to introduce sustainable procurement policies because business really does want the public sector to lead by example." said Neilson.