Sustainable procurement on track at Network Rail

6 August 2010

6 August 2010 | Angeline Albert

Network Rail looks likely to make sustainable a quarter of its spending on seven key materials by 2014.

The firm, which is responsible for the UK’s railway infrastructure, published news of its sustainability target in its 2010 corporate responsibility report.

In the past 12 months, the company has implemented a sustainable procurement strategy focused on these seven major materials: ballast, steel, transmission oil, fuel, paper, timber and concrete.

In terms of recycling, the firm already cleans and reuses old ballast used for track beds, but in 2011 it will begin doing this at its new recycling centre in Whitemoor Yard depot. Most cleaned ballast will be sold on as aggregate, but a small amount will be put back on to track beds. This means less raw material is used, the amount of waste sent to landfill is reduced and money can made from the sale of recycled materials.

Network Rail is also working with its suppliers to source more sustainable timber. Approximately 75,000 wooden sleepers and bearers are needed each year for track maintenance and the company’s target is for at least 95 per cent of its track timber to come from sustainable sources.

What it learns from focusing on the seven materials would influence its further integration of sustainability across its supply chain, it said.

Network Rail is working with the Ciria, the construction industry research and information association and Action Sustainability to integrate sustainability into its supply chain. The firm has set up a sustainable procurement steering group for this programme.

It won the 2009 CIPS Supply Management award for best process improvement initiative. At the time judges found its revamped purchase-to-pay process had streamlined the way procurement works at the firm and improved its image.

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