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Case Story Title

Procurement drives sustainable innovation

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Issues Addressed

  • Principle 8 - Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility
  • Principle 9 - Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

Case Story Category

Partnership Project

Countries of Impact

Case Description

Imagine the potential impact of a radical change of procurement patterns at one of Europe?s Top Ten employers. ISS A/S did. Now, the industry leader in cleaning and facility services is reaping the benefits of a new procurement strategy, based on Q3E ?the principles of Quality, Economy, Environment and Ergonomics.

One of the most exciting achievements has been made in the area of cleaning aids and methods. More than a year ago ISS A/S appointed an expert team to test and develop aids and processes. At that time country operations were using a wide range of requisites, chemicals etc., from a variety of suppliers. The task of the expert team was to identify cutting edge methods, to allow for focused procurement with much fewer suppliers & products and more scale efficiencies.

The entire supplier market was screened, and 28 suppliers selected. Next, the team performed 5500 quality measurements of the cleaning methods, based on the Q3E criteria, including issues such as use of water, chemicals and the life cycle of the product. The findings were remarkable. Some popular methods turned out to deliver disappointing results on all counts. More importantly, the team singled out a few key methods, which had minimal environmental and health & safety impacts while delivering superior economic value. These new methods are already applied in some countries, and senior executives from all operations have been encouraged to embrace best practice methods. A complete rollout of the methods would cover a majority of the 245.000+ employees in the ISS Facility Services division.The Q3E strategy is evolving, and it is too early to establish the total effects. Still, the experience from cleaning aids and methods is a strong eye opener. The expert study demonstrates that by adopting best practice methods the water use in standard cleaning can be reduced by as much as 80%. Likewise, chemicals use is reduced significantly. In terms of ergonomics the selected methods offer large improvements on conventional practice. Heavy lifting, wringing and some of the most disadvantageous movements can be eliminated. The study shows, that these highly desirable effects actually go hand-in-hand with significant cost reductions and improvement in quality.

The cleaning methods example demonstrates how sustainability concerns can be aligned with business objectives to produce exciting all-round improvements. The example testifies to the large potential of the Q3E strategy. ISS A/S is currently considering new areas, where the Q3E criteria could be applied. Onwards, Q3E promises to be an important source of value ? to employees, customers, shareholders and society.


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