Driving Incremental Sustainability


Driving Incremental Sustainability Through Effective Category Management

By Leandé Fergie |

In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, achieving sustainability goals often appears as a daunting prospect requiring radical changes.

However, for the realm of large-scale organisational procurement, a path to incremental improvements might be more effective. Enter category management—an approach that has the potential to drive sustainability through a series of small yet impactful changes within supply chains. In this article, we explore how aligning sustainability objectives with category strategies can yield significant advancements toward a greener future.

Introduction: The Power of Incremental Change
Category management operates on proven principles of change management, aiming to foster both incremental and transformative improvements. While the world clamours for radical shifts, the steady power of small changes cannot be underestimated. A notable example is the transformation of the cycling Team Sky, which progressed from its inception in 2009 to a position of dominance by 2012 through a series of incremental changes. While the allure of significant leaps is undeniable, it’s crucial to recognise the significant impact that consistent small improvements can yield.

Bridging your Sustainability and Category Strategies
This paves the way for a compelling proposition: can we harness the power of incremental changes in our supply chains to foster sustainable improvements aligned with our organisation’s strategic goals? The answer seems affirmative. By dissecting supply chains and embracing sustainable practices, organisations can align their strategies with broader sustainability goals. Let’s delve into how these two realms intertwine.

Integrating Sustainability into Categories
At an individual level, the journey begins with this. For instance, ponder over how single-use plastics relate to your products and services. Explore how concepts like recycling, reusing, reducing, and rethinking can be integrated. Crafting a supply chain map to identify sustainability bottlenecks is also crucial.

The Importance of Sponsor Support
Initiating a sustainability-driven agenda necessitates the support of sponsors, yet the pervasive nature of sustainability issues within procurement organisations is often overlooked. The diligent experts within these departments are often spread thin, and it’s unlikely that a single individual can wield enough influence to instigate the widespread awareness and change required.

Influencing Category and Supplier Strategies
While some organisations are ahead in this journey, we all possess the potential to shape category and supplier strategies toward sustainability. Begin by evaluating your category alongside your organisation’s ESG objectives. This introspection prompts you to ponder your current contributions and contemplate potential changes – no matter how small, as every step counts.

Driving Incremental Sustainability

Navigating the Path Forward:

  • Building Sustainable Supplier Selection: Integrate sustainability metrics into supplier selection processes to align with environmental objectives. Prioritising suppliers who align with sustainability principles.
  • Low Carbon Transportation Options: Seek greener/ eco-friendly transportation methods within supply chains to reduce carbon footprints.
  • Renewable Energy Evidence: Demand evidence of renewable energy usage and planning from suppliers.
  • Smart Packaging Solutions: Embrace sustainable packaging alternatives to minimise environmental impact.
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation: Encourage suppliers to adopt energy-efficient practices and water conservation initiatives.
  • Waste Reduction Strategies: Employing techniques like TIM WOODS (an acronym for Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overprocessing, Overproduction, Defects and Skills) and encourage waste reduction in supply chains.
  • Sustainable Facilities Management: Opt for sustainable practices in facilities management for holistic environmental gains.
  • Reducing Carbon Footprints: Collaborate with suppliers to reduce carbon footprints through thoughtful initiatives.
  • Lifecycle Assessment: Evaluate products’ environmental impacts across their lifecycle to make informed decisions.

Taking the Next Step
The journey towards sustainability begins with a single step—one that’s taken by individuals willing to make a difference. Evaluate your category’s contribution to sustainability and envision ways it can evolve. Even the smallest change contributes to the larger goal.

Engage with Us
For more insights into sustainability and its integration with category management, reach out to us. Let’s embark on a journey that drives not only incremental improvements but a sustainable future we can all be proud of. Together, we can leverage the power of category management to spark transformative change—one small step at a time.

Further reading

Blog post: Sustainability in Category Management – what it means for Porters 5 Forces

Blog post: Sustainable Procurement

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