Buying Green With Green Buying.
Bird chats with Matt Roper, founder of GreenBuying.co.uk, and how he aims to bring ecological decision making into procurement.
Matt , every startup has a story behind it. What’s yours, and GreenBuyings?
Hi Bird.. My story – well I come from a procurement background, and have advised many companies and public sector bodies on best practice procurement over the last 17 years. Given my personal passion for sustainability, I became more frustrated from a buyer’s perspective that it wasn’t straight forward to source eco friendly products and services for businesses, schools, councils, and so on. Yet I know from experience that organisation’s supply chains are one of the biggest single impactors on our environment – every time a buyer decides to spend money, the supply chain response is to take more resources from the earth, use energy to manufacture and of course this process also generates waste materials too. If we’re to make serious inroads into protecting the planet, my view is that procurement people need to step back from their day-to-day activities and reflect on whether they’re considering the environmental impact when making their purchasing decisions. What behaviours are they encouragaging and discouraging through their decisions?
So because I see how critical this is, I decided that we must start to develop a web-based sourcing tool to help busy buyers to more easily procure products and services which are more eco friendly, whilst acknowledging that any procurement is not perfectly eco. As innovations in materials come on line, then we want to be showcasing these new products too. I see it as a continuum, and even if we can marginally change buyer behaviour, we’re progressing. So that’s why I started GreenBuying!
Ok Matt, well this is interesting, I can safely say I’ve never really considered procurement and supply chains in this context… Hmmm. I can see the logic of it though, and if you know the industry from the procurement perspective you’ll understand it from the buyers view…
I’m guessing the challenge is to deal with what might be rather slow moving organisations? Are you finding them willing and able to change suppliers for the ecological benefits? I’m guessing price also has to be comparable…? When did you start this business anyway…? Sorry for the stream of consciousness questions!
Yes I started it back in 2005/6. Yes organisations can be slow in changing – it’s an educational journey! They’re under more pressure now from a CSR perspective so I think demand is growing. I don’t think we’ll attract those who are focused purely on price – whilst we seek to be price competitive we can be slightly more pricey than non-green equivalent products, though the gap is very small. We need to educate buyers that they need to start building into their buying decisions the need for environmental protection. Then they might stop fixating solely on unit price! That said, I’ve read research into buyer behaviour which states that price only makes up 10% of a buyer’s decision. Quality and service are also key, as is the story of the company they’re buying from. We can differentiate our offer versus all the non-eco big corporates, and that makes us attractive – particularly bearing in mind that we want to invest some of our revenues and time into developing our Schools Programme (see this link: https://www.greenbuying.co.uk/schoolsprogram.php). This is the other side of GreenBuying’s vision…we have 2 missions: a) to change buyer’s behaviour in favour of environmental protection and damage mitigation, and b) we want to educate school children – the next generation of consumers – about sustainability and the importance of challenging retailers re the products they sell.
I get it Matt. Schools and education is a great place to start. Not only are they major users of these products, they have the ability to educate on the importance of it. Let’s continue talking this through. And we’ll be helping you connect with other EM members who can benefit from GreenBuying.
Thanks Matt, looking forward to working towards a greener and more eco conscious World.