BT emissions policy helps vendors cut costs

17 March 2011
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17 March 2011 | Angeline Albert

BT suppliers are achieving savings by following the company’s new carbon reduction policy, a senior buyer has told SM.

Liz Cross, head of CSR and sustainability in procurement, who is managing the carbon policy for BT’s supply chain, said suppliers are seeing the benefits of reducing emissions.  

BT’s climate change procurement standard, launched earlier this month, expects the firm’s vendors, who account for the company’s £12 billion annual purchasing spend, to have an environmental policy in place. The strategy must include measurement of greenhouse gas emissions, the setting of “challenging” reduction targets and producing progress reports.     

“We’re very aware of how our suppliers are contributing to our carbon emissions and some have already begun working towards carbon reduction,” said Cross. “Procurement has, through the negotiation of energy contracts, helped. Nearly all of the electricity we use in the UK comes from renewable sources. The renewal of our green energy contract until 2014 means we continue to meet approximately 40 per cent of our electricity needs in the UK from renewable sources, and almost 60 per cent from combined heat and power generation.”

Following a series of supplier workshops about the policy, Cross said feedback had been very good. One BT vendor who provides installation services for communications equipment said that by focusing on the reduction of emissions his firm had already succeeded in saving 30 per cent on its energy bills.

BT aims to reduce its carbon usage by 80 per cent by 2016, against the base year of 1996/97. It said in its 2009/10 sustainability report: “We are on track, having reduced [carbon usage] by 54 per cent.”

“The challenge for us as a procurement organisation is to find a sustainable and low-cost solution. Our focus is to get our suppliers to be engaged,” said Cross. “Downstream there may be investments they need to make to reduce emissions, but the intention is that suppliers will both be more sustainable and save money through their efforts.”

Although no specific targets had been set, each supplier is expected to set themselves increasingly challenging goals. Cross said that monitoring progress would not be built into BT’s existing audits, but a questionnaire will be sent out to gauge their engagement and areas where improvement is needed.

“We expect BT suppliers to be actively managing and driving engagement in this area with their own supply chains,” she added.

Allison Drake, operations director of Hudson, who attended a BT supplier workshop, said: “I enjoyed sharing ideas with other delegates and found the event useful. It put concepts into targets and targets into sound action plans to help reduce our carbon footprint as far as possible.”

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