ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Audits

Sustainable Procurement: What you need to know about the new ISO 20400 Standard

Dr. Thijs Willaert CSR & Responsible Sourcing

Sustainable procurement, or responsible sourcing as some prefer to call it, is a key aspect of the transition towards a more sustainable economy: as soon as organizations begin to consider sustainability when making purchasing decisions, they yield their influence to steer their supply chains towards responsible business practices. The new ISO 20400 standard recognizes the importance of sustainable procurement and provides a framework for its practical implementation.

The purpose of ISO 20400 is to assist organizations of any kind and size with the development and implementation of a responsible sourcing strategy. The standard offers both an overview of the general principles of sustainable procurement as well as guidance on the implementation process.

ISO 20400 does not contain requirements for suppliers and is not a tool to assess the sustainability performance of suppliers. Rather, it describes how organizations can integrate sustainability into the procurement process.

ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Standard Audits

Development process and background

The ISO 20400 standard, published in April 2017, incorporates many aspects of BS 8903, a British Standard for sustainable procurement published in 2010. The new ISO standard, however, will adopt the terminology and principles of ISO 26000, the international standard for social responsibility. This should make it much easier to integrate sustainable procurement into the overall sustainability management.

Structure and Content: The Sustainable Procurement Model

The standard consists of four main blocks:

  • Clause 4 provides an introduction to sustainable procurement, describing the underlying principles as well as the reasons to implement a sustainable procurement policy
  • Clause 5 provides guidance on how to handle sustainable procurement at the strategic level
  • Clause 6 describes the organizational conditions and requirements for implementing an effective sustainable procurement system. The clause focuses primarily on enabling staff.
  • Clause 7 describes the actual procurement process and the way sustainability considerations can be integrated

The resulting model looks as follows:

ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Cycle

Benefits of working with the standard

The main reason to adopt ISO 20400 is that it enables organizations to integrate sustainability into procurement in a systematic way. As such, it helps the organization to:

    • Meet the demands of customers and other stakeholders to assume responsibility for its supply chain
    • Identify legal, financial and moral risks associated with sustainability in the supply chain
    • Monitor and improve the sustainability performance of suppliers
    • Build supplier relationships that create long-term, sustainable value

How DQS helps you implement a sustainable procurement strategy:

sustainable procurement certification ISO 20400

  • Sustainable Procurement Certification 
    Our qualified auditors confirm the implementation of a sustainable procurement system through an on-site assessment. The detailed audit report outlines their key findings and makes recommendations for improvement, if applicable. After passing the audit, the organization receives the Global Conformity certificate withthe Sustainable Procurement label. The certification requirements are based upon the principles and concepts of ISO 20400.
  • Supply Chain Assessments
    When developing a sustainable procurement strategy, it is of vital importance to understand the current risks, strengths and weaknesses of your supply chain. With its global network of auditors, DQS performs risk-based assessments of selected suppliers to give you a full picture of the current situation, including a recommendation of KPIs to focus on to monitor improvement. This helps you set priorities for the supplier selection process.
  • Supplier Audits
    Once a specification or standard for your suppliers is in place, DQS can monitor compliance through supplier audits. This can be based on a company-specific code of conduct or an established auditing scheme, such as Sedex SMETA, FSA 2.0, REDcert 2.0, UTZ and many others.
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Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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