Waikato Regional Council’s sustainable procurement stance has been praised as leading edge, ground breaking and a first for New Zealand at an event attended by more than 160 current and potential suppliers.
Purchasing sustainably means choosing suppliers to enhance environmental as well as social, cultural and economic outcomes.
The council recently held the sustainable procurement event which involved experts offering advice and support on meeting sustainability requirements in tenders and contracts to the region’s business community.
One key note speaker, Calum Revfem from Envirostate, who has worked with Z Energy, Toyota and Honda, praised the council’s approach.
“I believe Waikato Regional Council is the most advanced regional council in New Zealand when it comes to walking the talk in terms of sustainability,” Mr Revfem said.
Three years ago the council adopted a policy whereby decisions on any tenders and contracts worth more than $50,000 must include a 10-15 per cent “sustainability weighting” of “non-price” matters, while contracts worth less than $50,000 must have “an appropriate sustainability weighting”. This makes the regional council the first to use an across the board sustainability weighting throughout its supply chains.
Council CEO Vaughan Payne said it was great to see that so many forward thinking businesses had come to the event.
“The council was involved in starting up the Ballance Farm Environment Awards 20 years ago in the Waikato and these have now gone national, helping to drive changes in farming practices. We’re hoping our leadership on sustainable procurement will have a similar impact.”
He said Waikato Regional Council’s mission was to work with others to build a Waikato that has a healthy environment, a strong economy and vibrant communities.
“One way we demonstrate that mission is through our sustainable procurement practices. We spend about $83 million annually, with over 1400 suppliers and contractors. This means that we have the scale and opportunity to make real, positive differences to our environment, our economy and our communities through its purchasing.
“We have a duty to spend our ratepayers’ money responsibly. That means not just financially responsible spending, but also socially and environmentally responsible spending.
“It is up to the council, to show leadership in this area and reward businesses and organisations which are innovative and sustainable, and use that as a driving force for change in the region.”
Anna D’Arcy, the council’s business sustainability advisor, said she believed the ripple effect of the sustainable procurement policy will change the way business is done in New Zealand, first in the Waikato and then nationally.
“Other councils and government departments are closely watching the Waikato to see how this goes, with a view to following suit,” Ms D’Arcy said.
The concluding speaker at the event, Dr Eva Collins, associate professor at Waikato University, agreed.
“Businesses are inextricably linked by the supply chain. When one influential organisation demands a greater level of sustainability, it raises the bar for everyone. Organisations discover they can conserve resources, save money, increase productivity and promote their values all at the same time."
See more at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/procurement