The purchasing policy of the Coop is a dynamic guide which enables worker members and administrators of the Coop to evaluate what products would be the least damaging to our environment and the human condition. The guide is dynamic because the availability of products and services is constantly evolving, and the Coop will use the guide in order to always offer the best options available and to stay competitive in this market.
1. Is the product made locally?
a. To answer, we use a growing radial perimeter centered on Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, reaching outward towards the greater Montreal region, the province of Québec, other provinces and neighbouring states that touch the Québec border, etc.
b. Exceptions are made for products that fit all the other requisite categories but are not local (ex: organic and fair trade coffee).
2. Is the product organic/ecological/biodegradable/fair trade?
a. The coop first chooses products that have the least impact on the environment and society when compared with equivalent products.
Here we are talking primarily in terms of life cycle analysis. How is the product made, packaged and transported? Is it reusable? Does it perform well? Is it non-toxic, recyclable in its entirety, durable? Does its fabrication minimise wasted energy and materials? Is its packaging reduced to a minimum? etc.
Our choice is also dependent on standards with regards to working conditions and human rights, in order to respect the workers producing the goods that we consume. For more detailed information on these standards visit www.fairtrade.net.
b. The cooperative chooses products that carry a certification guaranteeing their quality. Whether they are organic, ecological, biodegradable and/or fair trade products, certified products will have the priority. By certification we generally mean ‘‘eco-labels’’:
“Eco-labels” is a term used to identify a label, seal or certification, given to a product in order to certify that its production is in accordance with certain environmental standards. These are different standards or certification systems intended to help consumers discern the products and services that are more favourable to the environment and humans. For an eco-label to be recognised it needs to include three components: (1) the certification standard, (2) an independent accreditation and (3) an independent organization to insure the certification. For more detailed information visit : www.cartvquebec.com/index.asp or transfair.ca/node or www.fairtrade.net or www.equiterre.org.
c. Exceptions are made if the products certified are not available locally, but the manufacturer or the cultivator can demonstrate to us that their products adhere at least to the norms of international certification.
3. Is the company that makes/distributes the product socially and environmentally responsible?
a. Priority is given to small suppliers and companies that have a positive reputation and have demonstrated good corporate citizenship.
b. Suppliers of the coop will be chosen based on the whole of the products they distribute.
c. All suppliers and producers will be encouraged to demonstrate leadership in responsibility through continued improvement in the reduction of the impact of its products and services on the environment and the health of humans while keeping a competitive position in the market.