Guide

Supply chain efficiency

How to select a sustainable supplier

Using a supplier who can meet your standards for environmental and social issues can help you reduce your impacts through your supply chain.

Ways to select more sustainable suppliers

You may decide to reward a supplier who can exceed your requirements and provide a more sustainable product or service.

You can evaluate the environmental and social performance of a supplier before you award a contract to them for goods and/or services. This is called pre-qualification.

You may choose to use a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) to check that a supplier can meet your standards for environmental and social issues.

In your pre-qualification questionnaire you can ask your potential suppliers about:

  • environmental management practices, eg ask if the supplier uses a certified environmental management system (EMS) such as ISO 14001 to assess their own environmental impacts, monitor their environmental impact and performance, maintain legal compliance and gain senior management commitment
  • compliance with environmental legislation, eg check your supplier has not been prosecuted for breaking the law
  • a product's environmental impact, eg ask about its resource use, whether waste is created during its manufacture, whether it uses hazardous substances, how much packaging it uses
  • delivery of your own specific environmental or social aims, eg to reduce the carbon footprint throughout your supply chain, becoming a signatory of the Ethical Trading Initiative base code
  • the supplier's buying practices - this can be useful in identifying environmental and social risks further down your supply chain
  • social responsibility policy and practices, eg whether the supplier identifies and assesses their own social risks and those of their supply chain and whether the supplier monitors compliance with International Labour Organisation standards in their supply chains