Procurement is well placed to lead on scope three emissions ©  querbeet/Getty Images
Procurement is well placed to lead on scope three emissions © querbeet/Getty Images

Don't mandate net zero in supply chains, buyers told

Procurement should work with suppliers to meet net zero targets, rather than mandating commitments, a conference was told. 

Patrick Dunne, CPO at Sainsbury’s, told delegates at the CIPS Global Conference that while the retailer does not currently mandate net zero ambitions with its supply chain, procurement does build it into sourcing decisions. 

“There's scope one and two missions that many people within the business can affect. But for scope three emissions, which is fundamentally the supply chain, procurement is well placed to lead and coordinate that agenda,” he said.

“I would advise people not to mandate at this stage as I don't think it's right to penalise a company who have a willingness to improve so help them. It starts with the procurement team. It starts with your decision making, your sourcing decisions and how do you at least measure the carbon footprint of different options that you have in your sourcing decision. That's where we're at in the Sainsbury's model. 

“We're working alongside the vendor base to try and educate and all improve. No one organisation has the answer to all of this and so having to share and work across industries because it's for the good of the planet that we do this together. Procurement is well placed for that.” 

Also speaking as part of a panel, Leigh-Ann Russell, CPO at BP, said while measuring suppliers on their net zero plans is one thing, mandating it is very different. 

“It can be quite easy actually to say, 'We're going to be supply chain net zero by 2030', but how does that help our diverse suppliers who perhaps haven't built those skills yet?” she said. 

“I am a huge believer in my position as CPO of actually developing and enabling our supply chain, particularly those diverse suppliers who are still early on this journey. Collaboration and partnership is really key here, and we should help our suppliers along their own ESG journey and build that capability together.”

Clare Jones, group procurement director at Mace Group, said the construction firm had also chosen to not mandate net zero commitments to suppliers.

“We've been going through the supply chain to establish how many have net zero carbon strategies. Ones that don't have net zero carbon, we're offering assistance and working with them to look at ways to get to net zero,” she explained. 

She said the main challenge in the sector is the manufacturing of steel and reducing scope three emissions there as whole production plants have to be altered. 

“Some steel contractors have set a target of 2050, which does sound quite a long way off, but they would have to rebuild, re-engineer and reshape all of their plant and production lines to actually meet that. They'll be able to do the scope one and two very quickly but it's the longer term. When you're manufacturing materials from raw materials that will take time, but we are working with our supply chain to get there.”

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