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Procurement in the NFL: Going Local, Going Green

Procurement in the NFL: Going Local, Going Green

As a small business, is it possible to do business and win an NFL contract? Why, yes. In 1994, the National Football League launched the Emerging Business Program to give the opportunity to minority- and women-owned businesses to provide products and services to consumers during the Super Bowl.

This exciting initiative required hands-on involvement from Super Bowl Host Committees, local organizations that are tasked with preparing the cities that play host to the Super Bowl each year. Host Committees act as liaison between the League, the municipality and stadium where the game will be played, and must abide by detailed rules governing what the city must provide in order to host a Super Bowl.

In the buildup to the 2010 Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints (which was played in Miami, FL) nearly 2000 small businesses submitted proposals to provide products or services for the event. Ultimately, 548 of these businesses, mostly foodservice vendors, were awarded contracts to participate in the Super Bowl festivities, providing a huge boost for local small businesses in the Miami area.

This initiative is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the policies put in place surrounding the procuring of goods and services by the NFL. The league has also partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop procurement and operational policies that are ecologically friendly and environmentally sustainable, both year-round and on game day.

Green Purchasing Policies

The NFL encourages environmentally intelligent purchasing policies for its suppliers, and has outlined guidelines for procurement of paper products, cleaning products and services, appliances and electronics, laundry services, grounds maintenance, and interiors and décor services.

The webpage for the NFL Suppliers Purchasing Policy at greensports.org provides a sample of an environmentally conscious purchasing policy, which NFL teams and their suppliers can use to formalize sustainable procurement agreements with third parties.

Participating suppliers are encouraged to not only purchase recycled, biodegradable and/or sustainably-sourced products, but also to consider adopting efficient production and use standards that reduce the level of consumption on the part of the League. For example, paper producers are urged to offset potential cost increases associated with using recycled paper by being more efficient during the printing of materials, such as promotional flyers and internal documents, by using double-sided printing methods and reducing waste.

An emphasis on the use of less-or-non-toxic cleaning products is also an important aspect of the NFL’s purchasing policy. Many common cleaning products, from floor cleaners to abrasives, potent detergents, polishing agents and fabric softeners, have been identified as potentially harmful to human health in recent years. Responding proactively to this problem, the League is taking steps to ensure that the products they use to maintain a clean environment are as safe as possible in regards to environmental exposure.

Local NFL teams have also organized community-driven Green Teams - committees of volunteers paired with League employees - to encourage recycling and other environmentally-conscious behavior among fans and stadium employees on game days.

Conclusion

Local companies continue to benefit from the NFL’s policies of engagement with small and minority/women owned businesses through the NFL Emerging Business Program. Super Bowl Host Committees actively court the contributions of small business in the cities where the games will be played, providing valuable contract opportunities and national exposure to businesses that otherwise may be struggling to compete in the region. This important program dovetails with the green purchasing policies adopted by NFL teams, creating a strong foundation of sustainable and beneficial business practices at the heart of the League.

In a time of increasing concern about environmental degradation and health risks associated with industrial-era production and consumption norms, it is refreshing to see influential organizations such as the NFL take a leadership role in developing and implementing environmentally sustainable purchasing policies and supporting small businesses at the local level. From the sourcing of uniforms and game equipment to office and janitorial supplies, the League has taken a holistic approach to sustainable sourcing, in the process setting an example for organizations around the world to follow.

Nathan Munn | SourceSuite.com

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