Balfour Beatty announced the completion of the assessment at the official London launch of the standard last week. The assessment, which is the world’s first international standard for sustainable procurement, was initiated in 2013 by a committee of more than 40 nations, and Balfour Beatty was assisted through the process by third-party evaluators Action Sustainability.

“We are extremely proud to be the first company in the world assessed against ISO 20400,” Balfour Beatty’s sustainable supply chain manager Aaron Reid said. “The standard gives us a clear framework to determine what good looks like in terms of sustainable procurement and how we compare against it.

“The assessment itself was robust, practical and coherent. It held a mirror up to us as a business, enabling us to uncover areas of existing good practice to be shared and areas for improvement to focus upon.”

The standard incorporates UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business as well as the requirements of the ISO 26000. All organisations, public and private, can apply and it outlines the sustainability impacts and considerations that should be incorporated across the different aspects of procurement activity. It is an update to BS 8903 in that it takes into consideration new concepts such as life-cycle analysis, due diligence, complicity and global cost.

Top of the class

Balfour Beatty is also a member of the Supply Chain School, an initiative which represents a common approach to sustainability within supply chains that includes companies such as Carillion, Skanska and Willmott Dixon.

The School’s chair Shaun McCarthy OBE, has helped shape the structure of the new standard, and has previously noted that the “time is right” to launch new standards and guidelines and promote resource efficiency in the current political and environmental landscape.

Commenting on Balfour Beatty’s assessment, McCarthy said: “Societal expectations for supply chains to minimise impact on the environment and respect human rights are at a tipping point. In response, ISO 20400 sets out a strategic framework for achieving sustainability and value for organisations competing in a global market.

“Procurement professionals and their stakeholders need to step up to this sustainability challenge and the standard provides a global framework for doing so. We at the School are delighted Balfour Beatty, one of our UK Partners, is leading the way, worldwide.”

For a detailed explanation of what the new ISO standard is and how it could impact your business, the edie Explains download features explanations from Action Sustainability and BSI. 

Matt Mace

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