Even though European retailers acknowledge the importance of sustainability, the ultimate recognition still has to happen: sustainability becoming a regular part of purchasing discussions.
After all, what is wrong with giving sustainable suppliers a better deal or with rewarding producers who help the retailer to reach his sustainability goals? Nothing at all! Still, almost every purchasing discussion only revolves around the “p” of price.
Wal-Mart sets sustainable example
In 2009, Wal-Mart was the first to present the sustainability scorecard, allowing the American retail giant to measure the sustainability score of every product it sells. British Sainsbury's followed that example this month with the installation of the Carbon Academy: a training program for employees and suppliers to limit the CO2-emission caused by Sainsbury's's activities as much as possible.
Sainbury's follows with Carbon Academy
“We want to make sure all our colleagues and suppliers are becoming advocates in the battle against CO2-emission”, says Neil Sanchev, director of real estate at Sainbury's. “We hope to make new environmental technologies as common and usual as possible.
“Our diary development group is a good example how we at Sainsbury's reward sustainable suppliers. This group lets Sainsbury's reward farmers who improve animal welfare, reduce the pollution load and work more efficiently with a higher price for milk”, says Ooi. “We hope this approach will find its way into every purchasing process.
Extra condition in purchase discussions
Nice words and targets indeed, but isn't the fastest and most effective way to accelerate the realisation of sustainability targets simply its permanent inclusion in purchasing discussions?
“A very interesting question”, says Sainsbury's spokesman Darragh Ooi. “I will suggest it right away.” Only a few hours later comes the disappointing formal answer: “The conditions of our contracts with suppliers is sensitive information and we can not discuss it in public”.
Sustainable purchasing is still not mainstream with retailers, but there is hope: thanks to the growing attention of sustainability monitors like Wal-Mart's, ever more people realise that both retailers and suppliers really can make a difference.
By Pascal Kuipers, Alsano Communicatie