4 ways IT buyers can embrace a more eco-friendly approach

Ian Nethercot, MCIPS, supply chain director at Probrand discusses sustainable procurement practices for IT buyers, and how they can be more eco-friendly

When we talk about sustainable procurement, the focus is often on some of the big ways that buying teams can impact change through social, economic and environmental factors. This might be the vetting of first-tier suppliers to ensure they’re not associated with poor labour conditions, compliance with local laws or due diligence on social and environmental standards, such as The Equality Act. While these are all hugely important, they are part of a bigger, more complex strategy that often needs several parties to deliver it over a long time period. After all, ensuring that the organisation is working towards various sustainability goals is an ongoing journey.  In spite of this, there are still many quick wins that can be effective in the short term. Here, Ian looks at four areas that buying teams can implement today to become more sustainable. 

Consolidation of delivery

When a new piece of technology is needed, procurement comes under pressure to secure the right equipment and deliver it immediately so that productivity isn’t hampered. Ensuring that the business has what it needs to remain operational is essential – but the rush to get it into users’ hands as soon as possible can result in multiple, low-volume shipments. Each of these deliveries creates carbon and energy waste as well as excessive packaging. However, by consolidating any non-urgent orders, organisations can immediately start to lighten that load. One of the ways procurement teams can best influence this is by working with suppliers who offer consolidated shipments whereby multiple orders can be streamlined into one shipment and/or a single delivery. This helps to lessen the number of trucks on the road, as well as reduce the amount of packaging. 

Delivery to desk services

Everyone has experienced ordering a small item only for it to arrive in a giant box with excessive packaging. Even for items that are packaged more economically, if you’re a large organisation putting in regular orders, it can add up. ‘Delivery to desk’ services can help here – as the name would suggest, this involves delivering equipment right to the user’s desk, unboxing it and taking all packaging away to be properly recycled. An added bonus is that this helps to free up space and avoids hundreds of boxes lying around. 

Whole life costs

Certain IT products can often have a shorter life span because they’re poorly designed, low quality or unable to be easily repaired. When securing equipment it can be easy to overlook the expense of an item over its entire life, including consideration of the running costs. For example, it might make sense to buy a more expensive printer because it has an ‘auto power off’ feature which means it’ll use less energy over time.

How are you disposing of materials?

A recent survey asked people how they were disposing of their undesired electronics, with 82% saying they don’t know the proper ways to recycle old kit. This isn’t exclusive to consumers – no organisation wants defunct kit ending up in landfill if it can serve a better purpose. Encouragingly, there are steps that can be taken, including breaking equipment down into parts, with components re-used and recycled. Ask suppliers if they offer IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) services or disposal services that conform to WEEE regulations. These types of certifications include being able to scan each unit for a serial and asset number so that, when goods are then disposed of and recycled, a certificate is provided to say that they’ve been properly disposed of. 

By following some of these steps, procurement teams can be confident that they are playing an active role today to secure a more sustainable future.

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