The City of Mississauga is updating its purchasing practices in order to make the decision-making process much more sustainable and ethical, with positive social impacts.
Yesterday, Council approved a proposed draft that city staff presented at the end of May. Making Better Choices: A Sustainable Purchasing Approach ensures that purchasing decisions favour environmentally preferable products and services, and views unethical vendor behavior as unacceptable. Supporting actions are expected to begin in 2018.
The City is seeing both environmental and financial gains from its greener cleaning supplies and services and projects like LED street lighting, but says it could do better.
“Sustainable purchasing in the broader sense of looking for savings on energy, packaging, waste materials or other sustainability issues isn’t new to the City of Mississauga, but it is ad hoc, and not nearly as impactful and effective as it could be when benchmarked against similar programming in other large Canadian cities,” the report states.
Next steps in the three-year implementation plan include testing these practices and introducing a Supplier Code of Conduct, which will promote the city’s intention to purchase from vendors with ethical practices.
“Price, quality and service have always been important purchasing criteria in Mississauga,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “We are now expanding our approach to make sure we take into account social, ethical and environmental aspects when we procure our goods and services. We need to look at the total cost of our purchases and change our corporate culture to put sustainability at the heart of our business.”
Environmental attributes will be considered to mitigate impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, toxicity, energy consumption, waste generation and excessive resource use. Ethical factors will avoid sweatshop labour and ensure fair labour practices within production facilities. Social factors consider how purchasing promotes health and safety, local economic development, minority groups, indigenous economic development, social enterprises, Fair Wage, local food, Fairtrade or other measures.
The new policy will inspire staff to develop five core sustainability values. For example, “considering purchasing alternatives.” This could include reusing, refurbishing, sharing between divisions, ordering appropriate quantities, leasing rather than buying and dividing large and multiple contracts to provide greater access to bidding opportunities for suppliers of all sizes.