Here's How the City of Edmonton Is Delivering on Its Commitment to Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada

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Both commercial enterprises and public sector organizations today face a rising tide of regulations and an increased awareness among the general public concerning the sustainability (or lack thereof) of the goods and services they buy. To meet the demands of regulators and consumers, procurement teams must be prepared for a drastic increase in transparency regarding the sustainability and compliance of their suppliers.

Earlier this year, a network of nineteen leading public sector organizations from the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) released a new Annual Report on the State of Public Procurement in Canada. Established in 2010 by Reeve Consulting, the MCSP is a member-based network of Canadian public sector institutions working together to align their spending with their values and commitments to sustainability. "Sustainable procurement has reached a turning point in its relevance as a strategic tool to drive sustainability in the public sector," say the report's authors. "We are seeing a vibrant national conversation around sustainable procurement as a core strategy for the public sector to take action on climate change, poverty reduction, and building healthy communities."

The City of Edmonton

The City of Edmonton ("the City") is a committed member of the MCSP. Together, the network offers a best practice framework for sustainable public procurement, helps benchmark organizations, facilitates webinars and working groups for members to exchange lessons learned and develop new tools and resources, and provides the widely-read annual report.

According to this year's report, there are some significant trends to watch — with social procurement receiving a lot of attention, in particular. Social procurement considers how procurement can positively impact the social wellbeing of their communities and addresses aspects such as poverty reduction, economic and social inclusion, and supporting local economic development and social enterprises.

A number of the City of Edmonton's accomplishments and success stories were highlighted in MCSP's report — including its new social procurement policy, created by the City's Corporate Procurement and Supply Services Branch. The pilot scheme aims to provide an opportunity to involve the business community in the City's goal to end poverty. As part of the pilot, the City is looking for organizations that support training and employment for a number of diverse groups — including indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities, veterans, and recent immigrants — as identified in the Infrastructure Canada's Community Employment Benefits Initiative. As an aid to helping the business community incorporate social value benefits into their operations, the City will make available a list of organizations that support employment training and placement of individuals from these groups.

In another initiative highlighted in the report, the City of Edmonton also reviewed and updated its Supplier Code of Conduct this year to reflect more relevant language and standards. This update is based on research and analysis of international best practices and a jurisdictional scan of other municipalities and organizations.

"The City of Edmonton believes that a strong commitment to transparency and accountability and a strategic approach to procurement are essential for delivering goods and services. Implementation of social responsibility, environmental requirements, and business ethical standards enhances the City's ability to manage its sourcing process in a sustainable way," writes the City of Edmonton. "This Supplier Code of Conduct supports the City's Sustainable Purchasing Policy and outlines the minimum performance standard expected from suppliers and their subcontractors who participate in any City sourcing process."

Delivering an Effective City Program

City of Edmonton's initiative to ensure the sustainable end-of-life management of oil and oil products from its Eco Stations and fleet maintenance shops was also featured as an MCSP Member Success Story in the report. The City of Edmonton's Eco Station program provides Edmonton residents with four convenient, environmentally sound, cost-effective and safe facilities to drop off household hazardous waste (including oil and oil products), universal waste, recyclables, and general waste.

To win the contract, the City required bidders to validate their downstream processes to ensure that products were ethically processed and recycled, and that used oil filters, containers, and waste fuel would not end up in Edmonton landfills. The City's Corporate Procurement and Supply Services Branch worked with the Waste Services Branch to ensure that a credible processor received the contract.

Through the new tender, high-quality used automotive oil is now re-refined into new lubricating oil, while lower-quality used oil is processed into a fuel that can be used by pulp mills, cement plants, asphalt plants, and other industrial applications. Oil filters are crushed and processed by a metal recycler for manufacturing into construction materials, and plastic oil containers are pelletized and used as feedstock for products such as new containers, fence posts, and railway ties.

"We were able to facilitate this procurement because we have the appropriate infrastructure in place," said Hieu Lam, Senior Buyer in the City's Corporate Procurement and Supply Services. "The City's Eco Stations do a great job in collecting and separating product, which makes it easier for the processor to collect and haul the product to their site. In this case, the City has taken a full life cycle and multi-stakeholder approach that involves engaging with suppliers as partners in delivering an effective city program."

Final Thoughts

Sustainable procurement is a high-profile matter for the public sector today, and the MCSP is pushing the agenda forward. The City of Edmonton's accomplishments thus far are exemplary, and it will be exciting to see what new developments will emerge as part of its work with the MCSP in the future.

"The MCSP fulfills a very important niche as the only known Canada-wide sustainable procurement network catering specifically to public procurement professionals," said Tim Reeve, Managing Director of the MCSP and President of Reeve Consulting. "We have a new strategic plan to chart our course to 2022 and are looking forward to supporting a diverse range of public sector organizations to gain better business and social value from sustainable procurement."

You can hear Ramish Siddiqui, Department Team Lead, Procurement & Contract Management at the City of Edmonton, speak at ProcureCon Canada 2020, taking place in May at the Marriott Toronto, CF Eaton Centre, ON.

Download the agenda today for more insights and information.