Sustainable procurement and the TripleBottom Line

In 1987 a UN appointed think tank was tasked to develop options on how economies could continue to grow without effecting the environment.


Greg Jackson SR Supply ChainBy Greg Jackson, SR Supply Chain Consultants.

From this the term Sustainable development was born and defined as: ‘Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

So have we succeeded in providing an uncompromised future for the next generations?

According to recent studies, no! If current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us.

This is a worrying statistic; however the last 27 years have brought a deeper understanding of our surroundings and our impact on our planet. Terms such as carbon footprint, recycling, renewable, energy saving, living wages and investors in people are now part of our everyday vocabulary.

It is clear however, more must be done and for me as a procurement specialist (so probably a bit biased) it is through sustainable procurement that we can make the biggest changes.

We need to focus on more than just profit we need to consider a triple bottom line comprising of:

People In a sustainable procurement model everyone’s wellbeing is taken into consideration. The company offers health care, good working hours, a healthy and safe place to work, opportunities for advancement and education, and does not exploit their labour force.

Planet Companies take pains to reduce or eliminate their ecological footprint. Recognising that “going green” may be more profitable in the long run. But it’s not just about the money. They reduce their energy usage, dispose of any toxic waste in a safe way, use renewable energy sources where possible, and don’t produce products that are unsafe or unhealthy for people and the planet. Profit The financial bottom line is the one that all companies share. In a sustainable business the idea is that profits will help empower and sustain the community as a whole, and not just flow to the CEO and shareholders.