How can your business develop sustainable procurement practices?

Author
Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Manager
9th May 2022

The latest report from the IPCC’s working group warned that we have approached an era of irreversible damage caused by the climate crisis. 

UK businesses are heeding the warning as data released by the UK Government ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that more than half of the UK’s largest businesses have committed to eliminating their contribution to climate emissions by 2050. However, almost half (49%) of CEOs globally say they are not clear on how they should operate in order to hit the 1.5C warming target. 

To help businesses formulate a standardised approach to reporting, emissions have been classified into different scopes: 1, 2 and 3. Scope 1 are direct emissions which come from business operations, scope 2 is indirect such as through the generation of purchased electricity and scope 3 are the emissions associated, not with the company itself, but that the organisation is indirectly responsible for, up and down its value chain.

The CDP, a non-profit which helps companies disclose their environmental impact found that while 71% of suppliers are reporting scope on emissions, just 55% report scope two and 20% scope three. However, green house gas emissions from a company’s supply chain are on average over 10 times higher than operational emissions.

We spoke to Paul Thomas, Business West Chamber Member and Carbon Solutions Consultant at Auditel, a cost, procurement and carbon solutions company which helps organisations to reduce their carbon emissions and costs, about how they are supporting companies to reach carbon neutrality.

Why is it important for businesses to become carbon neutral now?

En route to net-zero, an achievement more attainable in the shorter term is carbon neutrality, where under the internationally recognised technical specification PAS 2060, businesses need to reduce their emissions year-on-year and they can make a carbon neutrality declaration by offsetting their remaining emissions through purchasing high quality carbon credits. This activity funds worthy carbon reducing projects elsewhere, often in developing countries. Carbon neutrality can be declared as early as after year one, and when independently verified for credibility, can help a business demonstrate its commitment to protecting the environment.

What are the main challenges businesses face in achieving carbon neutrality and how does Auditel help them overcome these?

The first challenge a business faces, especially SMEs with little or no dedicated staff in this area, is understanding and having confidence in calculating their own carbon footprint.  This important baselining exercise informs their carbon reduction plan and is the foundation from which any carbon neutrality claim or progress towards carbon net-zero is measured against. 

Auditel’s specialists work with our customers to identify and map out their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions sources, and then apply PAS 2060 guidelines to calculate their carbon footprint so that a reliable baseline is set to a recognised standard. From here we identify carbon reduction options and suggest a prioritisation based on effectiveness, timescale, and business case - this builds the carbon reduction plan. 

For businesses wishing to make a carbon neutrality declaration, we help source high quality carbon offsets to neutralise the remaining emissions and prepare the neutrality declaration with supporting data and justifications for independent verification by a recognised body such as the British Standards Institution (BSI) or National Quality Assurance (NQA). We also manage the verification process itself.

What has been Auditel’s biggest achievements over the last year?

Over the last year, Auditel’s carbon and sustainability specialists have worked closely with the BSI who have awarded us with ‘Associate Consultant’ status. Following on from that, we have also achieved ‘Associate Partner’ status with NQA. Being recognised by two of the major independent verification bodies provides our customers with confidence that our work is of high quality, and they can stand behind their neutrality claims.

In addition to helping our customers understand their carbon footprint and drawing up their carbon reduction plans, we are now selecting and delivering carbon reducing projects which have realised some significant benefits. 

For one customer we eliminated landfill through a combination of recycling and waste to energy, yielding a reduction of 290 tonnes of CO2 per year and over 40% savings. Working with our extensive supply chain, we have delivered several LED and solar projects which are realising CO2 and cost savings. One small local example is Chew Valley School near Bristol, who’s solar array is reducing CO2 by 20 tonnes and saving the school £25,000 per year. 

Have you experienced an increase in demand for your services? 

We have found that businesses are being increasingly driven by strengthening market forces to reduce their carbon emissions. Consumers, from the general public to large multi-nationals are demanding greener credentials from their suppliers and carbon reduction is figuring in their buying decisions. 

In today’s economic environment of high inflation and record high energy costs, businesses are incentivised to evaluate green energy projects. We have seen an increased interest in onsite power generation projects such as solar and wind, where faster payback and savings are achieved, and we are in strong position to deliver with our sustainability and procurement experts.

If you would like to get in touch with Paul about the services Auditel offers, please contact paul.thomas@auditel.co.uk.

Do you want to learn more about carbon reduction and offsetting?

Business West’s lunch and learn series will be delivered every other month throughout 2022 and will focus on different topics within Net Zero. 

Book here today for our third in the series of Net Zero Lunch and Learn events that are designed to give SME’s practical and helpful advice within an hour! We will be joined by Sam Jackson who is the Climate Impact and Partnership manager at the locally based company, Ecologi.

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