Two measurable aspects of a company’s effect on the environment is their carbon footprint and waterprint.
The carbon footprint is “a measure of carbon emissions from a person, organization, building, or operation.” (APICS Dictionary, 16th Edition). This includes the amount of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) produced through burning fossil fuels and other activities. As much as 50% of an organization’s carbon emissions can come from its supply chain, so sourcing organizations should look at their carbon footprint over their entire supply chain, not just in their facilities.
Transportation decisions such as mode, shipment size, and distance have a carbon footprint impact. Software applications are available that can calculate the carbon footprint of truck transportation and suggest possible ways for reducing the carbon footprint. Companies and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun to publish carbon footprints of everyday products on the internet.
Due to population growth, as well as an increase in industry, the consumption and management of water is becoming critical in certain geographic areas. Much the same as a carbon footprint, companies are beginning to directly and indirectly monitor the water footprint, or waterprint, within their supply chains, and develop targets to achieve reductions in usage.
Overall, the guiding principle for environmental sustainability in procurement is long-term conservation that ensures the environment is able to maintain its supply of the materials necessary to sustain life.