Comment on the new International Standard for Sustainable Procurement

18 November 2015

BSI, the business standards company, has opened the public consultation period for ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement. It follows a 2-year programme of work with participation from such countries as Australia, China, Egypt, Israel, Japan, USA, and many others from Europe, Africa, south and central America. Comments can be made on the draft until 12 January 2016.

Sustainable procurement is a process that ensures only goods and services that are really needed are purchased, and buying items or services whose net effect of production, delivery, use and disposal minimize negative impacts and encourage positive outcomes for the environment, economy and society.

Since publication of Sir Neville Sims’ report “Procuring the Future” in 2006, it has been acknowledged that supply chains play an increasingly important part in driving social, economic and environmental sustainability. The world’s first standard for sustainable procurement practice, BS 8903 published in 2010 and pioneered best practice. As supply chains and the organizations that operate them have globalized it has become necessary to create a global solution to a global challenge.

The UK experts involved in the development of BS 8903 are members of the ISO committee producing ISO 20400 to support sustainable procurement along global supply chains. The structure and content of ISO 20400 will not be unfamiliar to those using BS 8903 (however it has four sections where BS 8903 has three).

What to expect from ISO 20400:

Fundamentals deals with the scope and principles of sustainable procurement and examines why organizations should undertake sustainable procurement. Important considerations include prioritization, exercising due diligence, exercising influence and avoiding complicity

Policy and strategy - Integrating sustainability into policy and strategy gives guidance on how sustainability considerations should be integrated at a strategic level to ensure that the intention, direction and key sustainability priorities of the organization are documented and understood by all parties involved in sustainable procurement. It especially helps top management define policy and strategy

Enablers - Organizing the procurement function towards sustainability describes the organizational conditions and management techniques for successfully implementing and continually improving sustainable procurement. Conditions and practices should be in place to help individuals responsible for procurement of goods and services integrate sustainability considerations into the procurement and management of contracts

Procurement process - Integrating sustainability into the procurement process  describes how sustainability considerations should be integrated into existing procurement processes and emphasizes that the creation of a parallel process should be avoided. It addresses the procurement process and is intended for individuals who are responsible for the actual procurement carried out within their organization

David Fatscher Head of Market Development for Sustainability & Services at BSI said: “So much valuable input has already been made into this standard by delegates from around the world. This shows the global importance of sustainable procurement especially as matters of supply chain transparency grow more important. To ensure that the draft is as relevant to the global market as possible, we welcome comments from all areas of the community.”

The standard is expected to publish towards the end of 2016.

Organizations involved in the development of ISO 20400 includes: Action Sustainability, Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Environment Agency, Ministry of Defence, UK Sustainability Network for Standardization.


Notes to editors

- Some of the other organizations involved in the development of ISO 20400 includes: ADS (Aerospace Defence Security), BAE Systems, British Safety Council, CPI (Confederation of Paper Industries Ltd.), Department for Work and Pensions, Energy Institute, GLA Group, NHS, Loughborough University, LRS Consultancy, Marks & Spencer Group plc. and Value Wales/Gwerth Cymru