Supply Chain Management for Environmental Improvement

Supplier Standards, Criteria, & Environmental Management Systems

In efforts to green their supply chain, some customers may expect suppliers to meet standards equivalent to their internal standards. Others may request that their suppliers implement an environmental management system (EMS) or become certified to other industry standards.

Many environmental standards and models are available, from national ecolabel certifications to international standards. One of the better known environmental standards is put forth by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), known as ISO 14001. "It is becoming more common for companies to include ISO 14001 compliance as a minimum standard in their procurement policies." (Reference: ISO Online).

Who's Doing It?

Bristol-Myers Squibb, a developer of beauty, nutritional and pharmaceutical products, works with major suppliers to align their environmental management systems (EMS) with the requirements of ISO 14001.

Ericsson, a communications equipment manufacturer, has a brochure on "Supplier Environmental Requirements - A Life Cycle Approach", which discusses their mandatory supplier requirements for EMS.

General Motors and other auto manufacturers (e.g., Ford and Toyota) require suppliers to certify implementation of an environmental management system or ISO 14001 compliance.

Hewlett-Packard worked with other electronics manufacturers on a standardized questionnaire for environmental evaluation of supplier practices, in attempts to minimize duplication of suppliers' efforts for the multiple customers conducting similar evaluations.

Nokia published environmental guidelines for suppliers.

The State of New Mexico's Green Zia Environmental Excellence Program is a voluntary program, supporting and assisting all New Mexico businesses achieve environmental excellence through continuous environmental improvement. The Green Zia criteria were adapted from the Malcolm Baldridge Quality model.

Additional Resources

(Scroll down for) A set of basic set of questions to ask suppliers

Improving Environmental Performance and Compliance: 10 Elements of Effective EMS

P2 Regional Information Center's Topic Hub on EMS

The Ford Motor Company has published their ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Workbook which is used in training suppliers, and discusses their related supplier requirements.

USAID sponsored a report on Candid Views of Fortune 500 Companies regarding ISO 14001, which discusses ISO 14001 implications for suppliers.

Hewlett Packard's Supplier Environmental Questionnaire

The BULLTEK website discusses ISO 14001 Advancing, Globally

United Nations Environment Programme's Technical Workbook on Environmental Management Tools for Decision Analysis states that the integration of environmental management into regular operations includes procedures governing internal operations, as well as goods and services and suppliers and contractors

The ISO 14000 Information Center

Suggestions for Setting Supplier Standards and Evaluation Protocols

checkbox Develop and/or adopt existing criteria, standards, or management systems


checkbox Decide what environmental criteria, standards, management systems, etc. will apply to which suppliers

Example: Will you use more rigorous standards for certain suppliers?

checkbox Develop an evaluation or certification plan and schedule

Example: See Supplier Evaluation and Certification

checkbox To ease the supplier's role, notify them well in advance, tell them why, and offer assistance, incentives and flexibility


  • Tell suppliers why it is important to meet your criteria
  • Notify suppliers of evaluation protocols and schedules, including milestone dates for partial and/or full compliance
  • Educate and assist suppliers in how to meet the requirements (See Outreach and Assistance to Suppliers)
  • Provide incentives, such as long-term procurement commitment, or shared savings
  • If supplier's other customers are stipulating environmental requirements, offer to cooperate with the other customers to minimize duplication of efforts on the suppliers' behalf

checkbox Develop policy for suppliers and contractors that cannot meet your criteria



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