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A sustainable purchasing policy by Nikita

07 March 2017

Optimising purchasing has been one of the VO group’s aims for a number of years. A significant part of our business (events communication) is short-term, so it is essential for us for both in-house and client projects to select suppliers who are as committed as possible to sustainability.

Actions taken since 2012:

  • Systematically selecting “sustainable” caterers for internal events
  • Gradually replacing workstations with laptops
  • Making the people in charge of purchasing aware of environmental, sustainable and fair trade labels
  • Systematically purchasing recycled or FSC paper
  • Purchasing organic soups in winter and organic fruit baskets in summer: each week we offer team members organic products
  • Systematically buying from eco-friendly suppliers who meet the requirements we have implemented
  • Creating a Sustainable Purchasing Guide for all of the group’s agencies
  • Organising lunchtime talks to educate team members
  • Replacing coffee and sugar with Fairtrade products

Since the end of 2016, we have gone even further by launching a campaign aimed at our suppliers. We regularly ask them to let us know whether they have certifications, labels or charters that demonstrate sustainability.

Our dedicated supplier database means that we can prioritise the suppliers who are clearly committed to environmental and social issues.

When we purchase things for in-house use, such as office supplies and maintenance products, we use just one supplier whose strategy covers sustainability through the “ECO FUTURE” programme. This encourages change within the company, centralises ordering, and therefore reduces the number of deliveries.

After a month-long test period with our team members, our water coolers have been adapted or replaced from bottle-fed to mains-fed fountains.​
The aim of this is to reduce:

  • the waste generated by plastic bottles​
  • the carbon footprint linked to transporting water around the country
  • the money spent on buying bottles and transporting them
  • handling 20 L bottles, which is good exercise but dangerous in terms of ergonomics!

After several months, everyone is used to it and we’ve had nothing but positive feedback!

Our conclusion? Purchasing is something that moves quickly as it is easy to adapt and (almost) entirely dependent on our good intentions. The CSR Team is always looking into other actions so feel free to let us know if you have any ideas!