Nohrcon France has interviewed Alice Piednoir, who is an expert in responsible public procurement. For more than 12 years, she has worked to bring sustainable development and procurement closer together, and in this interview she shares her knowledge and explains the importance of responsible procurement in our society.
Interview with Alice Piednoir, responsible purchasing expert in Paris
Nohrcon France recently conducted an interview with Alice Piednoir, a renowned authority in the realm of responsible public procurement. With over a decade of experience, she has dedicated her career to bridging the gap between sustainable development and procurement practices. In this enlightening interview, expertly translated, she imparts her vast knowledge and elucidates the profound significance of responsible procurement within our society.
For more than 12 years, she has worked to bring sustainable development and procurement closer together – and here, in this (translated) interview, are the main points in which she shares her vision and imparts her extensive knowledge of responsible and sustainable purchasing, as well as her advice on how to start implementing a strategy for responsible and sustainable purchasing today. You can also hear the interview in french, just click here to listen or read below the main theme of this interview, about responsible purchasing.
She has always been interested in environmental issues and consequently opted to pursue elevated academic pursuits in the realm of environmental and industrial engineering with the aim of becoming an adept expert in this specific domain.
Alice, currently works for the City of Paris, particularly in the finance and purchasing department, where she supports buyers to integrate sustainable development into their purchases.
The interview with Alice Piedrnoir, responsible purchasing in Paris:
“Alice Piednoir currently works for the City of Paris, specifically in the finance and purchasing department, where she helps buyers integrate sustainable development into their purchases. As someone who has always been sensitive to environmental issues, she chose to study environmental and industrial engineering in order to become a specialist in this field.
What is your definition of responsible purchasing?
Responsible purchasing refers to purchases made by professionals in the public or private sector that reduce the impact on the environment, increase the social value of the product or service, and consider the economic issues related to the purchase.
Why are we currently seeing a significant development in responsible purchasing?
Responsible purchasing has become increasingly important over the last decade because it is seen as a lever of political power when it comes to spending public money. We often have much more political influence with the euros spent than with a ballot.
And concretely, what does this represent for a buyer?
To be more virtuous in their purchasing practices, buyers must reflect on their needs and question their current practices. Are the quantities correct? Are we in a rental or acquisition system? It is important not to try to replicate previous markets identically. Then, it is a matter of taking into account the environmental, social, and economic issues related to the product or service. To do this, one must understand the industrial processes upstream, as well as the environmental and social impacts of the different production phases, such as the use of raw materials, the manufacturing process, and the end-of-life disposal. The criteria for responsible purchasing vary depending on the product or service purchased.
Can you give us some examples of purchases that take into account social and environmental aspects?
It could be ergonomics, when purchasing equipment that does not damage the health of users, or the accessibility of equipment for people with disabilities. Another example is hiring people who are far from the job market, who will find employment through the realization of the service being purchased. There is everything related to the eco-design of products, which allows, for example, to save energy during the production and use of the product. This could also be the integration of recycled materials or even better, reused materials. Finally, as a last example, there are eco-labeled products.
Does a responsible purchasing policy require more time and resources from buyers when it comes to a public procurement process?
It requires a willingness, that’s for sure. It is important to be part of a responsible purchasing approach and to bring aspirations at all levels. But as for the time needed to prepare the procedure, no, it should be the same as for a classic call for tenders. Of course, this involves additional constraints and elements to analyse, but this is also what adds value to the market.
How to evaluate the offers of candidates taking into account environmental and social criteria?
The candidates’ responses depend on what we, as buyers, have asked for. There are then two ways to evaluate the offers. The first way is to require things defined in the specifications, which guarantees a minimum level of compliance from all companies that will respond to the call for tenders. Therefore, we can also value environmental and social aspects through an offer analysis criterion. So, in addition to other more technical or financial criteria, this translates into questions asked to candidates on specific points that interest the buyer. Each candidate then proposes a response that will be evaluated and scored, which helps to select the best candidate.
What advice would you give to small businesses with limited experience or resources to implement a responsible purchasing strategy?
The advice I would give to these small businesses would be to start by researching and training themselves in the issues and practices of responsible purchasing.
It is important to understand the social and environmental impacts of their purchases and to become familiar with the relevant standards and regulations. Then, after carefully identifying their needs, it is essential to clearly communicate their expectations and requirements for responsible purchasing to their suppliers during the sourcing period. This allows companies to react and name what is feasible or not, which then allows the buyer to integrate criteria into the specifications of the tenders, taking care to balance their requirements. For example, the buyer may decide to require certain criteria or simply give them more weight. Finally, it is important to monitor and measure progress made in responsible purchasing and to communicate their achievements to inspire other companies to follow their example. It is not just about responsible purchasing, but also about adopting a continuous improvement approach.”
Are you interested in learning more about responsible and sustainable purchases?