Leading businesses push boundaries of corporate responsibility into the supply chain

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Seven large businesses have demonstrated their sustainability leadership by becoming the first organisations to be awarded the new Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain, launched at an event at the British Academy in Central London. The new certification is the world’s first independent certification to recognise organisations that have put in place a framework to measure, manage and reduce carbon emissions across their supply chain.

The pathfinder companies – ABP Food Group, Aviva, Central England Co-operative, Deloitte UK, Nationwide, PwC UK and Willmott Dixon – each have procurement spends that are measured in hundreds of millions, or billions of pounds. This purchasing power gives those organisations an opportunity to have a positive influence outside their operational boundaries, through engaging with key suppliers to get them to reduce their own carbon emissions.

Darran Messem, managing director of certification at the Carbon Trust, explained why the new certification was developed: “In most sectors the direct environmental impacts of an organisation are dwarfed by the carbon emissions relating to the products and services in their supply chain. As leading businesses get better at reducing carbon emissions in their own operations, they recognise the responsible thing to do is to focus efforts on where they can have the greatest impact.

“Large organisations often harness their procurement power to secure better quality or lower prices. But if they also engage and demand higher environmental standards, they can change the behaviour of both direct and indirect suppliers, helping them to become more sustainable.

“At the Carbon Trust we recognised that to do this well they need a framework to support them to identify the most significant areas of emissions and opportunities for reduction in large and complex supply chains, often with thousands of individual suppliers. This is why we created the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain, which provides a management system that helps guide efforts, drives continuous improvement and recognises success.”

To achieve the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain organisations need to complete a detailed hotspot analysis to identify the most significant areas of carbon emissions within their supply chain. This is then used to determine a quantitative baseline for emissions reduction and prioritise suppliers for future engagement. To retain the Standard on an ongoing basis organisations must demonstrate evidence of supplier engagement, demonstrate reductions in specified parts of their supply chain, and then expand their approach to engage different areas or suppliers.

Looking beyond just environmental impacts, going through a process of measuring the carbon footprint of a supply chain and engaging with suppliers can have hard financial or operational benefits. This can pinpoint areas of inefficiency and risk, helping to drive cost savings or increase resilience to threats such as the supply chain disruption, resource scarcity and regulatory change.

Dean Holroyd, the group technical and sustainability director at ABP Food Group, said: “At ABP, we believe it is our duty to do everything we can to ensure that our growth is not at the expense of our natural environment. We also recognise that our responsibility does not begin or end at our door, so we are committed to working with our suppliers and partners to learn from each other to improve environmental standards across the board. Having acted as a pathfinder on the new Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain we are delighted to be the first organisation to be awarded this prestigious certification.”

Tom Spink, group procurement director at Aviva, said: “In these days of increasing focus on clearly articulating the wider responsibility and actions of business, we continually seek ways of having our work independently verified by industry recognised bodies.  We believe that as a responsible business, we can use our procurement power for good.   The Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain provides this assurance to our stakeholders, and at the same time drives us forward to improving the sustainability of our business and products and services in collaboration with our suppliers.”

Paul Garton, energy efficiency programme manager at the Central England Co-operative, said: “When we first heard about the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain we were keen to be involved as it supports our existing plans for supply chain engagement as part of our wider corporate responsibility framework. The Standard provides external recognition of our achievements to date, but more importantly provides specialist support and guidance into our supply chain analysis and future plans, providing real benefits towards reaching our long term sustainability goals.”

Jenny Groves, director of branch and workplace transformation at Nationwide, added:  “As a company we operate for the benefit of our members which, amongst other things, means doing what we can to help reduce the environmental impacts of our business. To do this well we need to look outside of our own four walls and work with our suppliers, because most of the impact related to our business is not in our operational control. Going through the process of achieving the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain has helped us to focus our existing efforts so that we can further improve our sustainability and continue to reduce our indirect carbon footprint.”