Because every purchase has an environmental impact, sustainability should be a focus of all personnel within the purchasing department, and incorporated into each process from beginning to end. Various principles of sustainability can be applied to the procurement functions.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Sustainability efforts should cover the entire product life cycle. A life cycle assessment (LCA) is “understanding the human and environmental impacts during the life of a product, process, or service, including energy, material, and environmental inputs and outputs. Sometimes called cradle-to-grave analysis, LCA includes raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling” (APICS Dictionary, 16th edition).
Explore an example of procurement activities using the LCA concept by clicking through the hotspots in the image below.
LCA also encourages supply chain partners to avoid making decisions that shift environmental problems from one part of the supply chain life cycle to another. An example of this would be using less packaging on food product to minimize weight, which might lead to faster spoilage rates, meaning more waste, and the need for additional product to make up for the unusable food.