Supply Chain Management for Environmental Improvement

Evaluation and Certification of Suppliers

In efforts to green their supply chain, some customers may require key suppliers, or all suppliers, to meet certain standards in their operations and practices. Some stipulate that suppliers meet equivalent standards to their own, while others implementation of a formal environmental management system (EMS) or certification to an existing industry or environmental standard.

Once standards and requirements are in place, there are different mechanisms of validating the supplier is meeting those requirements. In some cases, completed questionnaires from the supplier, or other written documentation is proof enough for the customer. Other evaluation methods may include inspection of goods received, onsite evaluations or assessments of suppliers, certification to an ecolabelling program, auditing per International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards 14010 and 14011, or other protocols for monitoring and validating supplier operations.

Who's Doing It?

Advanced MicroDevices (AMD), a manufacturer of processors for PCs, adopted a risk-based audit methodology to assess and prioritize types of suppliers according to potential risk

Andersen Corporation, a window and door manufacturer, evaluates suppliers for environmental, health and safety (EH&S) practices

Ashland Specialty Chemical uses different audit protocols for different vendors, and maintains an approved vendor database (see page 41)

Bristol-Myers Squibb, a developer of beauty, nutritional and pharmaceutical products, periodically monitors performance of key suppliers, through a range of tools including surveys, reference checks, publicly available information, and site visits

Compaq Computers notifies potential suppliers that environmental performance is one of five pre-selection criteria

Daimler Chrysler, an auto manufacturer, rates suppliers and uses scores in purchasing decisions (see page 32)

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

Intel Corporation, a computer and peripheral equipment manufacturer, requires contractors to confirm that any staff working on Intel property have received mandatory safety training

Occidental Chemical Corporation requires suppliers and contractors to meet the same health, environmental and safety (HES) standards required of itself. They also evaluate suppliers on HES practices(see page 47)

Quantum Corporation worked with other electronics manufacturers to develop a database of environmentally restricted substances, which is used in supplier evaluation

Additional Resources

"How Do You Measure Environmental Performance?" by Robert Pojasek, published in Environmental Quality Management, Summer 2001. The article describes a modification of the Malcolm Baldrige Quality model to define, assess, track and improve quality and environmental performance.

PPRC's Topic Hub on Environmental Measurement

Hewlett Packard's Supplier Environmental Questionnaire has a set of basic set of environmental questions to ask suppliers. (scroll down)

EMS Design Tools, hosted by the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, contains tools for Gap Analysis and Self-Assessments related to EMS.

Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management

Suggestions for Evaluating Suppliers for Environmental Management and Environmental Business Practices

checkbox Determine how to verify suppliers and contractors are meeting your environmental requirements


  • Documented confirmation from suppliers, such as a license or certificate of compliance to an ecolabelling program, ISO, CERES Principles, The Natural Step, or other environmental standards
  • Self-assessments results or environmental questionnaires from suppliers
  • Onsite audits or assessments conducted by your staff (see below for auditing/assessment tools)
  • Onsite audits conducted by third-party auditors

checkbox If you (or third-party auditors) evaluate suppliers, develop or adopt evaluation procedures and methods based on the established criteria


  • ISO 14010 or 14011 procedures, or auditing tools such as a high-level GAP analysis)
  • New Mexico Environmental Department's Green Zia Environmental Excellence Program, published this scorecard and set of procedures for their examiners to use in evaluating businesses - which could be adapted for use in evaluating suppliers.
  • The Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) self-assessment tools can be adapted for evaluating suppliers, including the Environmental Self-Assessment Program and the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Self-Assessment Checklist
  • Greenware's Environmental Management, Audit and Reporting Software Solutions

checkbox Determine level of evaluation for different suppliers

Example: Only evaluate strategic suppliers or sole source suppliers, or develop other criteria to trigger evaluation of a supplier. Bristol-Myers Squibb determines when and whether an evaluation is warranted depending on the extent of involvement in the operations of the contractor or supplier, and the nature of the supplier's operations.

checkbox Develop evaluation or certification schedules

Examples: How often will you evaluate suppliers/contractors?

  • One initial evaluation
  • Annual evaluation
  • As needed, based on risk
  • Each time a new or upgraded product line starts up

checkbox Determine a policy and plan for suppliers and contractors that do not meet the criteria


  • Will you offer assistance to help them meet your standards? (See Outreach and Assistance to Suppliers)
  • Will your evaluation team make recommendations and develop and track corrective actions?
  • Will you seek out new suppliers or contractors?


Continue Continue to the Outreach and Assistance to Suppliers Section

Back to Table of Contents Go Back to the Table of Contents