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New group seeks to spearhead sustainable purchasing

New group seeks to spearhead sustainable purchasing

Purchasing managers who try to make sustainable choices have a lot of questions to grapple with: What paper has the least impact? What eco-label is the most important for cleaning products? How do you choose a sustainable computer?

Hoping to give purchasers guidance as well as recognize leaders, leaders in business as well as nonprofit and goverment groups are forming the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC). It will launch July 23 with a GreenBiz Group-hosted webcast.

"I'm really excited to see a group coming together to do what all of us purchasing managers have been wanting to see for a long time," said Nicole Jackson, sustainable sourcing and travel manager for the World Wildlife Fund, in a statement.

The overarching goals of the SPLC are to define, guide, measure and reward sustainable purchasing. It's planning to get there by bringing together industry, government, academia, standards organizations and non-governmental organizations.

"By providing organizations with credible guidance and a leadership recognition program that rewards them for choosing sustainable solutions," SPLC's Jason Pearson said in a release. "We will empower institutional purchasing to lead the transformation of our economy.”

While the U.S. government and major companies like Walmart, Procter & Gamble and Kaiser Permanente have sustainable purchasing policies or rank suppliers based on their environmental impacts, not all companies have the resources to devote to sifting through all the different eco-labels, ratings, seals and claims to make the most sustainable choices.

The SPLC aims first to define what it means to purchase sustainably, codifying best practices. It will also create methods for measuring the impacts of a company's or organization's procurement spending, as well as identify ways to address those impacts for the better.

As a last step, the SPLC takes a page from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program and will create a recognition program for leaders in sustainable procurement.

The SPLC will expand on its mission and plans during a launch webcast on Tuesday, July 23.

The SPLC is an outgrowth of the Green Products Roundtable, a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder forum started in 2008 by the Keystone Center, an independent facilitator for national energy, environment and health issues.

Founding members include Office Depot, FedEx, Ecolab, UL Environment, FairTradeUSA, California Department of General Services, Arizona State and Michigan State universities, and the cities of San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The group is planning a summit August 27 and 28 in Washington, D.C.

BY Jonathan Bardelline

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