Growing the vision of sustainable procurement

“Organizations realize the tremendous impact their purchasing decisions can have on the environment, the economy and definitely their bottom line.”

The next generation of procurement professionals will build their programs around sustainability, says Darin Matthews, one of the nation’s leading advocates of sustainable supply chain management practices and the founding chair of the UCSC Silicon Valley Extension Procurement and Supply Chain Management certificate program.

“Organizations realize the tremendous impact their purchasing decisions can have on the environment, the economy and definitely their bottom line,” he says.

Matthews, who heads up Procurement and Supply Chain Services for University of California, Santa Cruz, designed the certificate program to reflect global best practices, but often it is UCSC out in front of the movement. He cited its community composting partnership, a sushi redistribution program, fair trade practices, and local spend targets as examples of how sustainability is integrated into everyday student life and the business of running the campus.

The campus commits at least 25 percent of its total spend to suppliers within Santa Cruz County and is a member of the Monterey Bay Seafood watch program. Currently, 68 percent of its $10 million food procurement budget is spent on suppliers within a 250-mile radius.

“It’s fresher, it tastes better, the transportation costs are lower, and there are fewer preservatives,” Matthews says. “It’s one of several sustainable purchasing strategies that a leading organization should have.”

While director of contracting and procurement at Portland State University, Matthews helped establish a donation portal for the campus student food pantry that provided non-perishable food to students needing assistance. When suppliers checked on bid opportunities online, they were encouraged to “click below” and make a donation.

In his 2-1/2 years at UCSC Matthews has extended that focus to procurement decisions and increased partnerships with local organizations.

Along with the campus sustainability director, he’s signed a safer furniture pledge requiring suppliers to meet health standards and implemented sustainability in all RFP selection criteria.

“We’re the first to do that—not because we have to, but because that’s what we believe in.”

Matthews serves on the UC Procurement Leadership Council and the UC Sustainable Procurement Working Group. He’ll be teaching Sustainable Supply Chain Strategies, a five-week evening course starting in October.

Students will hear real case studies of best practices from leading organizations, including UCSC, and learn from guest speakers that are experts in the sustainable food purchasing field.

Learn more about our new Procurement and Supply Chain Management certificate program.
Note: This article also appeared in the Agricultural Supplements of the Monterey Herald and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

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