• International Workplace
  • 23 May 2017

Meeting your sustainability responsibilities: new Standard

Designed to assist organisations to meet their sustainability responsibilities, business standards company BSI has launched ISO 20400:2017 Sustainable procurement – Guidance, a new Standard that outlines what sustainable procurement is, and how an organisation can implement sustainable procurement practically.

The overarching concern of the new International Standard is to make the supply chain integral to an organisation’s sustainability goals. ISO 20400 outlines in detail the sustainability impacts and considerations that should be incorporated across the different aspects of procurement activity, and is applicable to any organisation, either public or private, irrespective of its size or location.

ISO 20400 replaces BS 8903:2010 Principles and framework for procuring sustainably – Guide, and one of the key changes in the new Standard is a section dealing specifically with integrating sustainability into the procurement process. It has been updated to take into consideration new concepts such as life cycle analysis, due diligence, complicity and global cost.

With organisations increasingly driven to demonstrate their environmental, social and economic impact, the guidance says adoption of ISO 20400 is a tangible signal that the organisation prioritises sustainable procurement as integral to its day-to-day operations. Supply chains are a critical consideration for any organisation aiming to bolster its environmental credentials, and adopting ISO 20400 would likely boost the reputation of an organisation amongst its customers, stakeholders and the wider public.

David Fatscher, Head of Market Development for Sustainability at BSI, said:

“As the need for supply chain transparency grows, the global benefits of sustainable procurement are more evident than ever. ISO 20400 has captured best practice from experts from over 40 countries on six continents and delivers a global solution to a global challenge. It has been closely modelled on the existing British standard BS 8903, which should place UK organisations at an advantage in its early adoption.”

According to the guidance, sectors particularly likely to benefit from implementing ISO 20400 include construction, facilities management, hospitality, catering, clothing, food, public procurement, manufacturing, timber, print and paper, and packaging.

Users most likely to benefit from ISO 20400 include senior procurement and purchasing professionals, commercial directors, finance directors, contract, tender and supply managers, supply chain managers, sustainability managers, environment / waste managers, operations managers, and facilities managers.

Importantly, while the Standard outlines how an organisation can integrate efficient procurement steps into its existing procurement methods, it does not make recommendations for changing the procurement methods themselves.  

As well as experts from over 40 participating countries, ISO 20400 was created with additional input from leading international organisations including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC), Independent International Organisation for Certification, and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).