The Greening of Procurement: How Social Consciousness is Re-Shaping Procurement Practices (White Paper)

Posted on April 15, 2008


Who Can Benefit from this Paper?

Anyone and everyone who has an interest in the issues organizations as well as individuals face in terms of implementing a sustainable purchasing program within their company.

White Paper Excerpt from The Greening of Procurement

Cannibals with Forks?

“In our rapidly evolving capitalist economies, where it is in the natural order of things for corporations to devour competing corporations, for industries to carve up and digest other industries, one emerging form of capitalism with a fork – sustainable capitalism – would certainly constitute real progress.”

From Cannibals With Forks – The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, By John Elkington (Capstone Publishing, Oxford, 1997)

Do Cannibals With Forks Constitute Progress?

Taking his cue from Polish poet and aphorist Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, John Elkington’s book titled Cannibals With Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, attempts to answer the question, is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?”

I am certain that the aphoristic character of Lec’s writings were not lost on Elkington when he decided to use the “cannibals” analaogy as in many ways it symbolizes the at times vague certainty of the importance of sustainability. Or to be more precise doing something because it is supposedly good for you without really quantifying what the “good” actually is.

This is an important distinction as the substantive elements that drive corporate decision-making can and in fact does change based upon financial imperatives and the realities that drive them.

In a recent exchange I had with a well-informed environmental advocate, he made the following statement regarding the benefactors of change, which I believe strikes at the very heart of the sustainability issue. And I quote, “of course, the gains based on sustainability will not be enjoyed by the same companies as today, which profit from carbon extraction and emission. Industries like wind power, nuclear, solar etc. will benefit from a “carbon constrained” world. Others will lose. The latter are spending millions on disinformation campaigns and lobbying, just as the tobacco companies did for decades, to preserve their profits and to discourage competing technologies.

This is a true statement to be certain, and one that can be applied to any situation in which the demise of an incumbent is required to pave the way to a new future. If you were the incumbent in this case, the reality of your situation, and therefore the interpretation of the so called facts may be somewhat different.

Document Outline: 47 Pages, (incl. Appendices)

Main Sections: Do Cannibals With Forks Constitute Progress?, A Tale of Missed Opportunitiy (Kodak), A Different Type of Cannibal, The Environmental Connection?, A Final Word About Kodak, A Three Pronged Fork, A Preliminary Scorecard?, The Customer is Always Right!, Government Influence – The Fuel for Change?, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Other Industries, Greenwashing, Financial Disconnect

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