UK Construction in ‘World First’ for Sustainable Procurement

At the official London launch last week (10 May) of the new International Standard for Sustainable Procurement BS ISO 20400:2017, leading UK contractor and Supply Chain School Partner Balfour Beatty was announced as having completed the assessment already, achieving what is believed to be a ‘world first’ for the UK, construction and the School.

The standard was formally published last month, following a process started in 2013 and involving a committee from over 40 nations. Balfour Beatty were assisted through the assessment process by Action Sustainability, acting as expert third-party evaluators. Director of Action Sustainability and Chair of the Supply Chain School, Shaun McCarthy OBE had himself played a pivotal role in the ISO 20400:2017 committee and been highly influential in shaping the structure and content of the Standard. He is especially pleased that a Partner of the Supply Chain School and representative of the UK construction industry should be pioneering sustainable procurement with the first assessment:

“Societal expectations for supply chains to minimise impact on the environment and respect human rights are at a tipping point. In response, ISO 20400 sets out a strategic framework for achieving sustainability and value for organisations competing in a global market.

“Procurement professionals and their stakeholders need to step up to this sustainability challenge and the standard provides a global framework for doing so. We at the School are delighted Balfour Beatty, one of our UK Partners, is leading the way, worldwide.”

The guidance standard incorporates the most recent developments in sustainability thinking including the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business and ISO 26000. It is designed for all organisations, public and private, of all sizes. The value of assessment against the new standard is tangible and significant, even to market-leading organisations with tried-and-tested sustainability policies and practices already in place, explains Aaron Reid, Sustainable Supply Chain Manager at Balfour Beatty:

“We are extremely proud to be the first company in the world assessed against ISO 20400. The standard gives us a clear framework to determine what good looks like in terms of sustainable procurement and how we compare against it. The assessment itself was robust, practical and coherent. It held a mirror up to us as a business, enabling us to uncover areas of existing good practice to be shared and areas for improvement to focus upon.”

Balfour Beatty will be sharing their experience of the process as part of a presentation at the Supply Chain School construction Supplier Day, taking place in London this week (17 May)

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