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ISO 20400 sustainable procurement

February 16, 2021 | Posted by Amy

ISO 20400 image

ISO 20400 sustainable procurement in office supplies

In this “era for change” should we all be considering the ISO 20400 sustainable procurement standard?

Companies now more than ever need to start taking action and need to start looking deep into both their own and their suppliers supply chains. As a B Corp we already check the impact we have on the environment, on society and on the economy – but not everyone does.

To us, just like being a B Corp, sustainable procurement just makes good business sense.

We have always driven the message home about not just purchasing on cost alone. We CANNOT continue with the race to the bottom mentality without any consideration for natural resources, carbon emissions and the like.

What is ISO 20400 sustainable procurement?

Firstly its not a requirement by law,  it is simply a standard that acts as a useful roadmap to help organisations navigate their way to becoming better. Aligning your companies goals and aspirations with procurement can be daunting, more so when a company needs “top to bottom” buy in.

But ISO 20400 can be achieved regardless of company size or sector, so don’t leave it just to the big corporates and step forward and be a leader.

Just in case you don’t know before we progress what is ISO? Well its the International Organisation for Standardisation. An independent, non-governmental international organisation that’s supports many global challenges and is present in almost every sector.

Many people we speak to say the pressure on being sustainable is mounting but also a very daunting prospect. We couldn’t agree more. But this doesn’t have to all be done on day one. Accreditations like ISO 20400 are there to assist and help companies understand this journey even if they are right at the start.

It’s a broad brush stroke agreed, but procurement makes up a huge part of any organisation’s trading expenditure.  Start with the low hanging fruit, like your stationery supplier, who is likely to be somewhere near the bottom in terms of priority and spend. Red-Inc are the leading sustainable office supplies company in the UK. No other office supplier has had our commitment since our conception back in 2008.

How can it help my company?

Well of course firstly, this should be done for ethical reasons, but we also understand that as a commercial business there is often a balance needed.

It will certainly help enhance your credentials or corporate image to potential clients and in tender bids. It shows you have a clear purpose on behaving better. We’ve also found that its helps build better relationships with suppliers, and builds longer term transparent relationships.

Is some cases where the mutual commitment is appreciated its driven down cost of services too.

Its helps build confidence in your work force. Everyone needs to know their employer is doing the right thing and looking at all section of the supply chain and procurement.

It could also help under pin any other certifications you might have, like the B Corps certification for example.

Ultimately it will open your eyes to better purchase decisions and processes. What and how we buy as organisations wholeheartedly matters. Each decision we make as people and companies has a huge implications and a knock on throughout the supply chain and the companies involved.

If like us you care about being authentic, honest and put your reputation above all else, this could be the standard for you.

We don’t want to be buying from suppliers that don’t take this seriously, so nor would we expect someone to buy from us with out that level of due diligence.

And finally

20400 Sustainable procurement isn’t about buying ‘green’ products. Its designed to help with a long term road map of integration.

So, lets try and all do more and ask more of our partners and suppliers.

We look forward to the day that more companies ask us “what are we doing”. Not just our B Corp friends.

Have a think and see if you can answer this question:

Does your own company screen or evaluate Significant Suppliers for social and environmental impact?


Do any of your suppliers have a third party certification that cover the company or its product/service?

We conclude that ANY standard that helps you understand your environmental, social and economical impact, should be the only way forward from now on.

Why not check out the ISO 20400 standard here and do some more reading.