Sustainability Reporting in the US – a Growing Trend

The US Government is another government taking the lead when it comes to sustainability in the supply chain

GSA blog 2

 When the UK Government published its Action Plan to become the “greenest government ever” in November 2010 it made a clear commitment to improving the environmental performance of its own suppliers.

However it was not the first government to do this.

In 2009 the US implemented a similar piece of legislation requiring all federal agencies to meet a range of targets pertaining to environmental performance, including a 26% reduction in water consumption by 2020 and a 50% increase in recycling by 2015.

Since then the General Services Administration (GSA) – the agency responsible for overseeing $66 billion of procurement each year – has undertaken a number of efforts to green its supply chain, for example creating a Green Products Compilation and a dedicated office to manage emissions.

As the GSA moves away from the checkbox approach of ‘green purchasing’ to a more flexible approach of ‘sustainable acquisition’, suppliers should expect more stringent requirements in terms of their sustainability performance.

In 2011, for example, the GSA began an internal pilot whereby its procurement teams considered a supplier’s greenhouse gas emissions when awarding contracts.

This is now being expanded to include sustainable management practices more holistically, such environmental impact statements and a waste minimisation plan.

The GSA isn’t the only federal agency increasing its efforts in this area.

In its 2012 sustainability report the US Postal Service states how it will continue to press its suppliers for more environmental data including on energy and water efficiency.

The US Army has had a Green Procurement program since 2004 and while much of the detail is kept confidential, its latest sustainability report aims to expand the market for green products and services whilst achieving important internal goals, such as zero waste.

With these hugely influential institutions now moving in the same direction, it is evident that suppliers which become more sustainable have greatly improved chances of becoming a preferred supplier to the US Government.

Considering the potential reward of such contracts, would-be government suppliers should rest assured that sustainability reporting is an effort well worth making.

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