Heathrow embeds sustainability in all contracts

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
6 February 2018

Heathrow Airport has developed a separate sustainability schedule that it includes in all contracts.

Dianne Armstrong, senior procurement manager at the airport, said this was a “massive move” that had helped the organisation cut its carbon footprint.

Speaking at the CIPS Best in Procurement event, Armstrong said the contract change was part of a wider strategy that included working with suppliers and stakeholders.

“We now have a separate sustainability schedule within all our contracts. That is a massive move,” she said.

Armstrong, who is a sustainability champion for Heathrow, said a sustainability policy had been drawn up with executive sign-off. Sustainability is included in evaluation criteria and KPIs, while the issue is covered in supplier newsletters, meetings and communications.

“Are the products you buy and sell and the contracts you manage sustainable? Are suppliers sustainable?” she said.

Sustainability continues to be a core area of focus. Not only has it been embedded in procurement programmes for many years, it has become more relevant to the airport as it moves to build a third runway.

Armstrong said it was important to recruit ambassadors and learn to “win hearts and minds” so you are “bringing people with you and not dragging them screaming”.

She said procurement controlled £1.7bn of spend and 700 contracts. They have 18 major categories and 65 procurement staff dealing with 1,500 tier one suppliers. Some 80% of spend is with 50 strategic suppliers.

Armstrong said the organisation’s sustainability journey started in 2010 when sustainability considerations were embedded in the airport’s ‘business as usual’ procurement programme. In 2017 Heathrow 2.0 was launched which saw a “massive step change” that involves “doing the right thing and running our airport responsibly”. This means “supporting the local and UK economy but also managing our impacts on the community and environment”.

Chris Allen, senior category manager at Heathrow, said they used a maturity matrix to measure progress across different work streams and categories.

Procurement staff were upskilled and ambassadors assigned to work streams. Colleagues also worked alongside suppliers, which saw the move from petrol and diesel vehicles to hybrid and electric models.

Allen said the matrix “allowed us to deliver another level of value”.

Armstrong said winning Best Contribution to Corporate Responsbility in the SM Awards had “raised our profile internally and especially with our new director”. “He is very impressed,” she said.

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