Truly understanding what traceability means from your suppliers is a key to your CSR initiatives.

May 8th, 2009

I had the TODAY SHOW on in the background this morning and heard something about tracing products from trees to napkins that caught my attention.

I had the TODAY SHOW on in the background this morning and heard something about tracing products from trees to napkins that caught my attention.

We certainly are all aware that paper and paper products come from trees. We are also aware if we care of the impact deforestation has on our planet. It just makes sense to source products from recycled materials in order to limit this process.

It occurred to me as I listened to the show that a question that we in the procurement profession might all ask since we are aware that napkins come from trees is; Can we trace the napkins that we purchase all the way back to the forest that that napkin came from? This would be an excellent test for our suppliers, distributors and wholesalers that claim to support traceability beyond one forward one back.

The TODAY SHOW segment I was watching was a review of the eight-part original series, “Eco Trip: The Real Cost of Living”, hosted by eco-adventurer David de Rothschild, which premiered on Sundance Channel on April 21st at 9:00pm e/p. The series traces the origins and environmental impact of common everyday products such as a cotton t-shirt or a gold ring. “Eco Trip: The Real Cost of Living” is airing as part of THE GREEN, Sundance Channel’s weekly ecological programming block. This is a great opportunity for a team meeting and educational opportunity relative to traceability and eco focused sourcing.

This author believes that tt is incumbent on all procurement professionals to understand where the products they procure for company use as well as for resale come from and how through a well thought out procurement process they can have a positive impact on the environment. In this case choosing suppliers that offer recycled product alternatives and doing something as simple as posting signage that indicates that taking just one napkin instead of a handful at all locations in a store that offer branded (another area for consideration) napkins from salad bars to bakeries to break rooms can have a positive impact on the environment while also providing backbone to your companies CSR initiatives.

A good question to ask oneself is where we can find suppliers that carry these types of products, what certifications do these suppliers carry and does our e-procurement solution provider offer best practices in this area as part of our existing fee structure.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Ron Southard

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