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Buy That! A New Tool to Guide Green Purchasing

October 18, 2013NiSEFeatured, SustainabilityComments Off

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Over three years of University of Minnesota research to create a streamlined method for assessing the environmental performance of products is being put into practice. In partnership with the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), researchers at the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NiSE) are leading a team of scholars, business intelligence practitioners and corporate experts in developing an interactive decision tool for sustainability and supply chain professionals.

The GEMI Supply Chain Sustainability Tool™ (SCS) will help users assess the sustainability of procured product/service systems by linking market-oriented sustainability indicators (e.g., recycled, renewable, organic, local), scientifically based assessment methodologies and supply chain operational metrics. The free, Web-based module “will include new functionality, which will help companies prioritize supply chain processes, identify opportunity indicators, model ‘hot spot’ processes, and provide guidance toward ‘hot spot’ reduction,” said GEMI Solution Tools chair Steve Shedroff of the Procter & Gamble Company.

“The new GEMI SCS™ tool will open a new, and much needed, degree of transparency deep into the supply chain using a practical and scalable platform,” said GEMI Supply Chain Work Group co-chair Bill Gill of Smithfield Foods.

In the initial pilot year, tool development will focus on identifying high-impact purchases of large institutional and corporate buyers, leveraging the software platforms of Climate Earth, Inc. In addition, parameterized streamlined life cycle assessments will be conducted to assess improvement opportunities for three to five commonly purchased product categories. Finally, in collaboration with colleagues at the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, functionality will be developed to help managers evaluate economic trade-offs and efficiencies associated with alternative purchasing strategies.

Unlike current approaches, it is anticipated that the GEMI SCS™ Tool will be expandable to include a wide range of purchasing categories, improvement scenarios and methodological upgrades over time as the science and product systems evolve.  “The result of this unique collaboration will be an extraordinarily valuable, publicly available tool for use by many companies and organizations – linking GEMI’s commitment to creating valuable solutions tools to cutting edge research and expertise of universities and information systems developers,” says GEMI Supply Chain Work Group co-chair Keith Miller of 3M.

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