Principles for Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing

A Vision for Sustainable Purchasing

A screenshot of the webinar recording.

Watch the webcast presentation of the Principles, hosted by Joel Makower of GreenBiz Group.

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) envisions a world where the production, distribution, use and disposal of goods and services enhance the long-term health and vitality of society, economies and the planet. SPLC supports and recognizes leadership in sustainable purchasing to accelerate the transition to an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future.

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council and its membership strive to define and accelerate environmental, social and economic progress through sustainable purchasing. Organizational purchasing decisions send powerful economic signals up and down the entire supply chain, with environmental, social, and economic impacts throughout the lifecycle of purchased goods and services.

By adopting a consistent, practical definition of leadership in sustainable purchasing, organizations can collectively advance a positive future for society and the planet by using their purchasing power to promote marketplace innovation that delivers broad benefits to customers, suppliers, employees, investors, other stakeholders, and society at large. To this end, we define leadership in sustainable purchasing according to the following principles.

The Principles

An organization demonstrates leadership in sustainable purchasing through:

  • Understanding. Understanding the relevant environmental, social, and economic impacts of its purchasing.
  • Commitment. Taking responsibility for the relevant environmental, social, and economic impacts of its purchasing by committing to an action plan.
  • Results. Delivering on its commitment to improve the relevant environmental, social, and economic impacts of its purchasing.
  • Innovation. Actively promoting internal and external innovation that advances a positive future.
  • Transparency. Soliciting and disclosing information that supports a marketplace of innovation.

The full version of the Principles includes detailed explanations of each principle, as well as interpretations for stakeholders other than institutional purchasers, including: suppliers of products and services; standard and certification developers; and public interest advocates. This enables the entire purchasing community to share in and accelerate progress on addressing the most significant environmental, social, and economic impacts of purchasing.

Principles Development Process

The Principles were developed through an 18-month multi-stakeholder process that engaged leading organizations from a number of sectors, and included the collection of more than 300 comments through public forums and a 30-day SPLC Member Comment Period. Initial drafts of the Principles were prepared by the SPLC Steering Committee members and informed by input from workshops, including:

  • B4E Summit (Berlin, Germany, May 2012),
  • Greenbiz Forum 2013 (New York, NY, Feb 2013),
  • Corporate EcoForum (Chicago, IL, May 2013),
  • Greenbiz Forum 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ, Feb 2014), and
  • SPLC Founding Summit (Washington DC, Aug 2013).

The following SPLC Members took part in the Principles Comment Period: American Chemistry Council; City of Portland, OR; EcoVadis; Elliott; Kuhn Associates and Sustainability Advisors, LLC; Lockheed Martin; Province of Nova Scotia; Pre Sustainability; SCS Global Services; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. General Services Administration (Central Office); and U.S. General Services Administration (Regional Office). Download the Member Comments and SPLC Responses.

Members of the Principles Technical Advisory Group (TAG)

The final iteration of the Principles reflects the deliberation of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) made up of SPLC members from the purchaser, supplier and public interest advocacy communities.

  • Karen Cook, County of Alameda
  • Nancy Gillis, Ernst and Young
  • Johanna Kertesz, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Alison Kinn Bennett, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Lara Korizke, ISEAL Alliance
  • Warren Lavey, American Clean Skies Foundation
  • Anastasia O’Rourke, DEKRA
  • Jeff Pitts, U.S. General Services Administration
  • Tad Radzinski, GreenCircle Certified
  • Raymond Randall, Waste Management
  • Laura Rauwerda, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • John Riley, Arizona State University
  • Karen Shapiro, Product Stewardship Institute
  • Rob Shimp, SCS Global Services
  • Eric Sutherlin, IERS

Download the Principles TAG Charter.