When engaging with your stakeholders (internal or external), avoid highlighting the greenwashing that your competition might saturate the marketplace with. Instead focus on the clear vision of your business and how that meets your customers’ goals.

As a sustainable procurement professional, I often focus this conversation on the basic KPI elements used when doing a simple procurement review.

Price, service and quality equals “value”

Typically, we all want the cheapest price and reliable service, and when it comes to measuring quality in the recycling marketplace, we review the ability to achieve environmental accreditation by hitting recycling percentage targets (which also saves us landfill levy disposal costs). We also consider the ongoing maintenance costs of using recycled materials instead of products produced from quarried construction minerals.

Notice the theme here. Unless there are some economic drivers in place, it’s very difficult to implement sustainable procurement principles by measuring the social and environmental benefits alone.

When engaging with your supplier or building a stronger client relationship, please consider the following:

“Price” is critical, but how many times do you have to buy the same product. Is it three times a year or only once a year?

  • Measure the “cost” of disposal, re-manufacture and re-delivery into the overall spend.
  • Sometimes it’s cheaper to recycle spare construction products rather than pay to transport them off-site, then securely store them for re-use.
  • It’s even better to avoid buying them in the first place, but then we must consider the opportunity cost impact on a decreasing skilled labour force – better to have the spare materials, if it means that the sub-contractor can finish the job in one site visit, or you might not get them back again!

Improve on “service” and get some Key Performance Indicators in place to monitor and review service levels against internal and external quarterly targets.

  • Discuss and monitor these KPIs with your supplier and look for shared efficiencies.
  • As an example, consider transportation of bins when civil works finish and the building contractor takes possession of their new site; IWM often ends up taking bins back to the same site for different companies.

Assess the “quality” of the product you are purchasing. In waste recycling, this isn’t just the well painted and signed skip bin, although this can be a good billboard for marketing your company’s recycling advocacy.

  • Review the state government controlled licenses that your recycling company should be issued (ISO14001 requires you to have a copy of these licenses).
  • Determine if the license has any limitations on your generated waste stream and its tonnage limitations. It’s no good contracting with a small company that can’t process your major infrastructure or construction project’s waste outputs.

Regarding key use of “emotional language” around waste and recycling, we tend to purchase even our largest assets using emotional words like “I love this house and I like the feel of this recycled timber floor” using the right side of our brain. It is not until after that first impression that we start to look with the left side, at the practical details of where you’re going to put the four kids and two dogs in this lovely one bed apartment with no garden.

Once people emotionally engage with waste and we reassure our client’s fears that they will be seen doing the wrong thing (which is a stronger selling tool than telling your client that they are doing the right thing) we can then dig down into the detail of what is happening with our wasted resources.

Yes we should be calling it a “resource” instead of “waste” but let’s be honest with ourselves. If we didn’t want it and it’s in the way of our shared goals, it’s wasteful to spend too much time managing this typically contracted “prelim” item in great detail.

Instead we need to sell the concept of doing the right thing to all our external stakeholders and then allow the recycling professionals to solve our problems by looking at the detail behind the choices we make on waste and recycling in construction.