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Sustainable Materials Sourcing: Best Practices for Ethical and Eco-Friendly Procurement

Improving sustainability is a key focus for the construction industry. From the environmental impacts of the construction process itself, to the carbon emissions from the resulting buildings, there are many areas for improvement.

Materials procurement is one part of the construction cycle where positive improvements will make an impact. Sourcing sustainable materials involves considering both ethical and environmental factors. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you make more sustainable choices.

Understand Your Supply Chain

Conducting a thorough assessment of your supply chain to identify potential ethical and environmental risks is a great place to begin when improving the sustainability of your materials procurement process.

Engage with your suppliers to understand their practices, certifications, and commitment to sustainability.

Digital solutions can help you gain better visibility of your supply chain.

Set Clear Sustainability Goals

Defining clear sustainability goals for your organisations, including targets for reducing environmental impact and ensuring ethical sourcing, is an essential activity in sustainable materials sourcing.

Align these goals with international standards and certifications, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Fair Trade, or Cradle to Cradle.

Choose Renewable and Recycled Materials

Prioritise materials that are renewable, for example bamboo, cork, and hempcrete. Recycled materials, including recycled steel, glass and plastic are also important.

Opting for renewable and recyclable materials reduces the demand for new resources and minimises waste.

Consider the Lifecycle Impact

Evaluate the entire lifecycle of materials, from extraction or cultivation to disposal. Choose materials with lower environmental impact throughout their lifecycle, considering factors like energy consumption, water usage, and emissions.

Support Local and Fair Trade

Source materials locally when possible to reduce transportation-related emissions. Consider fair trade certifications to ensure that workers along the supply chain are treated fairly and receive fair wages.

Investigate Social Responsibility

Ensure that your suppliers adhere to ethical labour practices and respect human rights. Regularly audit and monitor suppliers to verify their commitment to social responsbility.

Look for Eco-Friendly Packaging

Consider the environmental impact of materials packaging. Where possible, try to opt for materials that use biodegradable, recycled, or recyclable packaging options.

Stay Informed About Certification Programmes

Familiarise yourself with sustainability certifications used within the construction industry. Some common certifications include BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and Cradle to Cradle.

Collaborate and Share Best Practices

Collaborate with industry peers, suppliers, and organisations to share best practices and learn from each other.

Engage with sustainability-focused networks to stay updated on the latest advancements and challenges in sustainable sourcing.

Regularly Review and Improve

Regularly review and update your sustainability practices in response to new information, technology, and industry standards.

Encourage feedback from stakeholders and be open to continuous improvement.

By integrating these guidelines into your sourcing practices, you can contribute to a more sustainable and ethical supply chain.

Streamline Your Supply Chain with The Build Chain

Are you looking to expand your supply chain with more local options? The Build Chain can help. Our online materials procurement platform is designed to make it easy to connect with local suppliers, reducing the carbon emissions associated with transporting materials to your sites.

We recommend booking a demo to see the full benefits!

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