Eco procurement – the first step in going green

When hosting an event, a range of different products and services need to be procured.  There are always a variety of options to choose from, but it is at the point when money actually changes hands that the real decision is made. From securing a venue, to arranging the menu, selecting the conference bags or appropriate lights – all these decisions can impact on the greening of the event.

Eco procurement gives preference to products and services that are not harmful to the environment. It also supports the concept of local economic development through the procurement of local goods and services which reduce transport costs.  Through supporting an SMME you are also encouraging job creation and creating a social benefit for the local economy.

You are encouraged to buy only what you really need, and to consider innovative alternative solutions that will provide high environmental performance and waste reduction. Conference bags used to be a standard item, but trends have moved towards more sustainable options.  This extends to the selection of venues (hotels, conference facilities), transport (buses, airport transfers) and other services or suppliers.

It’s best to include some of these eco procurement criteria in your request for quotes or tender documents that are sent out. This encourages companies to consider their environmental impact as part of their service.  Where possible you can request certified products, such as FSC paper or fair trade coffee.

What can you do with your next event to include some eco-friendly criteria into your procurement process to encourage a shift towards a more sustainable future?

A few questions to consider:

  • Do we really need to have it?
  • Has it been made locally?
  • Can we avoid single-use disposable products?
  • Is it resource efficient?
  • Can we have local, seasonal and organic food?
  • Is the fish on the SASSI green list?
  • Are there any fair trade options available?


Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company, or the environmental benefits of a product or service. This could take different forms, such as hidden trade-offs, a lack of proof, vagueness, irrelevance or lies.  Look out for certified products to avoid greenwashing.

Fairtrade ( is an ethical certification whose main aim is to promote more equality and sustainability in the farming sector. A product that carries the Fairtrade Certification Mark has met the rigorous standards, which focus on improving labour and living conditions for farming communities and promoting a way of farming that doesn’t harm either people or the environment.

Marine Stewardship Council ( has a fishery certification programme and seafood eco-label that recognises and rewards sustainable fishing. It is a global organisation working with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental choice in seafood.  They work closely with SASSI (

Forest Stewardship Council ( is a certification system that provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment, as well as providing ongoing business value.


Originalyl posted at: