ISO 20400, Sustainability, Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400

At the Sustainable Brands New Metrics ’18 in Philadelphia last month, I spoke about sustainable procurement. In particular, I discussed Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400.

City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall



Few people in the audience knew of the relatively new Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400 standard. As a result, I want to spread the word!

Why is a sustainable procurement standard so important? Sustainable procurement reduces risks associated with negative impacts (e.g., human rights, pollution) in your supply chain. It can highlight opportunities to prevent supply disruptions and foster communications with vendors. Your reputation and leadership can be improved by establishing sustainable purchasing policies.

Whether you work for a for-profit, nonprofit, or government agency, your organization buys things. Some organizations buy more than others and focus on short-term cost reductions. Attending to your purchasing beyond the concern for short-term costs matters. You may say you do not manufacture products but provide only services. Purchasing involves so much more than just raw material purchases because it includes buildings, janitorial supplies, equipment, and office supplies.

Does your organization need a systematic approach to sustainable procurement policies?  Do you evaluate human rights and ethical behavior in selecting a supplier? How do you get top management to support sustainable procurement? How do you start or how do you improve your approach? Find answers to these questions in ISO 20400.

It is not a requirements standard but a set of guidelines for incorporating sustainability into an organization’s purchasing processes. Any organization of any size can use this. The topic areas include:

  1. Fundamentals – core principles of sustainability and sustainable procurement
  2. Policy and strategy – ways of adapting sustainability and sustainable procurement into policy and procurement context
  3. Organization – conditions (e.g., governance, leadership, personnel, and engagement) needed for sustainable procurement
  4. Procurement – process example provided to help create greater sustainability in supply chain


Hope you find this useful!


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), GRI Certified Training, ISOS Group, SDGs, Sustainability, Sustainability Reporting, Sustainable Development Goals

ISOSGroup GRI Standards Training in Seattle and Chicago

This past month I have been busy delivering ISOSGroup GRI Standards Training in Seattle and Chicago.

Linda Glasier, an excellent trainer, and I delivered a course on GRI Standards at the Recology Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Seattle. The participants represented companies in the recycling, mining, cruise ship, oil extraction, and public transit sectors. Their engagement in the training and discussion from their diverse experiences resulted in rewarding sessions for all. You may recall from a prior post, I wrote about being hosted by Recology at their headquarters in San Francisco.

At the Recology MRF, we toured the Seattle facility where paper, plastic, and metals are separated to be recycled. The facility is quite impressive.

Recology MRF


Recology MRF
Recology MRF Sorting Process

In Chicago, Burson Marsteller hosted the GRI Standards training at their office in the Merchandise Mart. At this session, participants represented consulting, nonprofit, mining, and technology organizations. Because of their engagement and great questions, we had thorough discussions about the application the GRI Standards! As you can see from the picture below, we had a great view.

View of Chicago street from Merchandise Mart


I enjoy all these trainings and hope that you can join in future events. If you need to learn about GRI Standards, CDP, or SDGs, the ISOSGroup offers courses in San Diego December 3-7, 2018. Take a look at the schedule to see what fits your needs.



CDP, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), SDGs, Sustainability, Sustainability Reporting

Sustainability Training in San Francisco

Last week I was working with the ISOSGroup delivering sustainability training in San Francisco. During this 3 day session, we covered the GRI Standards, the CDP Climate Change Program, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was a great training hosted by Recology at their corporate headquarters. The group that we trained was as amazing as the view. There were people from Recology and other companies along with students from the Presidio Graduate School.

San Francisco
View of San Francisco Bay

These trainings are meeting the increased demand for information about organizations’ economic, environmental, and social risks. The GRI Standards provides organizations with the tool to better manage these risks. Do you have an interest in learning more about the GRI Standards? You are in luck because ISOSGroup has two scheduled trainings in October. I will be training in Seattle and Chicago for the next two events.

Hope to see you there!



Sambal and Sustainability

Although I have been away from my blog this summer, I have been encountering interesting things. One in particular is a new business that incorporates sambal and sustainability. Sambal is a hot sauce commonly used in Indonesia and Malaysia. Years ago, I had the good fortune to try sambal while on a faculty exchange program on the island of Java, Indonesia. Now I have found an authentic source for sambal in the U.S.

Kick Gourmet Foods has the best sambal I have tasted since I left Indonesia. If you like “spicy” food with heat and flavor, you will like this!

Jars of sambal
KICK Sambal

This company has incorporated the three pillars of sustainability in its business credo. If you purchase the gift box order, you get a wooden box that holds the jars; and you can re-use the box! As you can see below, I turned the box into a jewelry holder. I lined the bottom with a piece of scrap velvet cloth.

Repurposed box
Sustainability – New jewelry box

My next post will be published soon!


Circular Economy, Cities, Cities and sustainability reporting, Sustainability

Resilient Cities and the Circular Economy

This post on Resilient Cities and the Circular Economy is the third in my series on the Resilient Cities 2018 conference.

I participated in a discussion about Resilient Cities and the Circular Economy at Resilient Cities 2018 – Cities in transition: From waste management to circular city economies.

Panelists- Sunandan Tiwari, Gwen White, Catherine Allinson, Johannes Paul, Lisa Junghans, Keith Weitz

My presentation focused on circular economy activities in the city of Bloomington, Indiana.

Sunandan Tiwari, Gwen White, Catherine Allinson

Where is Bloomington?

Facts about Bloomington

Waste Management

There appears to be a lot of circular economy activity going on in cities, but it may under reported. How and where the waste data is reported depends a great deal on a city’s waste management system. Waste collection can be done by a private contractor or a public utility or a combination. This is the case in the city of Bloomington, Indiana, which is home to Indiana University. The city’s population is 85,000 people; half of these residents are students. The university, the city, and private collection companies collect waste. The city and the university track recycling. At present, private collectors track by regions not by cities.

Are there other waste disposal options in Bloomington?

There are several NGOs involved with the circular economy that report annually on their work. For example, the Monroe County Habitat for Humanity Restore collects donated used building materials and appliances to resell to the public at discounted prices. In 2017, 1.1 million pounds were diverted from the landfill. This does not include all the construction waste from the demolition of buildings. Collection of this data would be a complex endeavor, but lessons could be learned from the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It has plans to create a circular city that in part organizes the building chain to incorporate the reuse of building materials in new construction. It is a new program that will require considerable coordination from setting up a storage facility to measuring and monitoring the materials. It will involve a multi-year effort, but Amsterdam is on the cutting edge of becoming a circular city.

Another example of the circular economy in Bloomington is a local NGO foodbank, Hoosier Hills Foodbank (HHFB). HHFB coordinates food collection with local grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. It in turn makes food donations available to over 100 nonprofit organizations including emergency food pantries, daycare centers serving low-income children, youth programs, shelters, residential homes and soup kitchens.


Hoosier to Hoosier (H2H), an annual event that diverts reusable items from the landfill during Indiana University’s student move-out at the end of each spring semester, illustrates the reuse of post consumer goods. This program prevents new resource consumption by selling collected items to students and community members at the beginning of each fall semester. The funds raised are donated to local charities and other organizations. H2H is a partnership between the city of Bloomington Sustainability, Indiana University Office of Sustainability, and Cutters Soccer Club. In 2016, it successfully diverted 60 tons and collected $45,000 from its sales.


Yard waste collection in Bloomington is another example of the circular economy. Each fall the city collects residential yard leaves with trucks equipped with vacuum hoses. The leaves are delivered to Green Earth Recycling and Compost, a private company, which charges the city a dumping fee per load. The company processes the leaves into compost for sale to the public.


There may be many more examples that are not widely publicized so an assessment of progress in Bloomington is incomplete. Collecting data on other examples needs to be made a priority if we are to assess progress and make decisions about new initiatives for the city. One issue for better assessment of progress is getting all the information together in one place. This could be accomplished on the city government website. Having the information in a central location could provide more opportunities for partnerships across the city.