How to make more responsible purchases?

As more and more companies position themselves on the CSR (corporate social responsibility) front, you want to follow suit, but you don’t know where to start? You’ve probably heard that responsible purchasing is a winning strategy, but you don’t know what it is? The following article  examines the different aspects you need to consider as you are looking for responsible purchases.

Know the various aspects of responsible purchasing

Responsible purchasing means making purchases that take into account the social, economic and environmental aspects.

The social aspect

The social aspect can cover several elements, including the following:

  • Good working conditions
  • Employee health and safety
  • Local purchasing
  • Investment in the social economy sector
  • The fight against corruption

The economic aspect

Responsible purchasing also affects the economy and touches upon various criteria. Here are a few examples:

  • Efficiency and productivity
  • Equity
  • Attracting customers and investors that are mindful of these themes
  • Improving CSR and brand image
  • Risk management and compliance with regulations.

The environmental aspect

It goes without saying that responsible sourcing must respect the environment. Here are some points to consider that come with responsible purchasing:

  • Reduction of raw materials, waste and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Elimination of hazardous materials
  • Eco-responsible design (ecodesign)
  • The possibility of recycling
  • The reduction of packaging
  • The use of transport means that are less polluting
  • Ensuring a low ecological footprint during use and at the end of the product’s useful life

Look into the different stakeholders

Before starting the responsible purchasing process, it’s important to look into the various stakeholders who are part of the manufacturing process and to consider their social, economic and environmental impact.

For example, is the supplier mindful of employee health and safety when it extracts raw materials and does it operate in a fair environment? Does it ensure the renewal of resources while respecting the environment?

Does the manufacturer use renewable energy in the manufacturing process? Has it made every effort to design an eco-responsible product while focusing on efficiency and productivity to minimize costs and reduce waste?

Does the retailer avoid overpacking? Does it verify whether the products it procures have a low impact on the environment? Does it offer good working conditions to its employees and does it source locally?

Will the customer be attracted to the product resulting from responsible purchasing? Does it have to rely on a large source of energy to be able to use it? Does it have access to the resources to recycle the product when it reaches the end of its useful life?

Examine the various steps

Through the previous examples, we note that in order to make a responsible purchase, it’s essential to ask questions as early as the manufacturing stage, starting from the exploitation of raw materials. It’s also important to consider the energy required to create, distribute, sell and use the product. These concerns must therefore be taken into account through the stages of transport, use and end of useful life of the item.

Take it further

If you decide to make sustainable purchases, there are certifications that can help you make informed choices. However, it’s important to be vigilant and to know these certifications well in order to avoid falling into the trap of greenwashing, which consists of a form of marketing manipulation that gives a false eco-responsible image.

In addition, you can also refer to the principles and guidelines adopted by the l’Espace québécois de concertation sur les pratiques d’approvisionnement responsable (ECPAR). These principles are:

  • Socioeconomic development
  • Equity and efficiency
  • Exemplarity
  • Governance
  • Environmental integrity

When it is impossible to meet all social, economic and environmental standards at the same time, seek to find the best possible compromise. But before that, determine if your purchases meet a real need and verify that they offer quality and durability that minimize waste.

Follow the example of Ecolopharm

For more than ten years, Ecolopharm has been committed to acting both environmentally and socially. It is also concretely committed to a CSR process recognized and audited by the B-Corp certification.

The company is part of a true responsible purchasing approach as both buyer and supplier. Its products are ecodesigned, which means they are designed to leave the smallest possible carbon footprint. In addition, the company fosters local purchasing, and it also turns to suppliers with a high level of CSR.

Taking action as pharmacists

Pharmacies have great purchasing power. As a pharmacist, you can implement a responsible purchasing policy that will have a real impact on society by raising awareness and taking action. Different resources are available in this regard. So, what are you doing or what can you do to make an impact?

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