Thursday, 10 March 2011

BT has introduced a climate change procurement requirement for all its suppliers

BT LogoBT has announced the introduction of a climate change procurement requirement that will apply to all its suppliers. The idea is to encourage companies to reduce carbon during the production, delivery, use and disposal of products and services supplied to BT.

BT now expects all contracted suppliers to:

  • Have a policy in place to address the challenge of climate change;

  • Actively measure and report carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions;

  • Set targets to reduce emissions and to report on progress.

Suppliers will be asked to complete a questionnaire to find out what actions they are currently taking and how they could be improved. The emphasis on improvements can be reinforced by specific requirements built in to procurement awards, such as achieving a set emissions reduction target. Suppliers are expected to drive similar programmes in their own supply chains.

To prepare for the introduction, BT, together with the Carbon Trust (the UK government’s low-carbon agency which recently had its funding cut by 40%), has been holding workshops with suppliers to help them with their carbon reduction policies.

The procurement requirement is part of BT’s ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions. I went to an update of progress last year, which listed the following among the company’s achievements to date:

  • A reduction in the carbon intensity of BT's global business by 54% compared to 1997;

  • Fleet mileage reduced by 15% and associated CO2 emissions by 12% in the year;

  • Cutting over 33 million kilometres and 6,700 tonnes of CO2 from company car travel;

  • A cut in waste sent to landfill by 15% compared with 2009 and a 44% recycling rate of total global waste generated by the company.


BT has a target of reducing energy use across the organisation by 3% (net) in its 2010/11 financial year. One of the long-term emissions goals is to reduce UK carbon emissions by 80% from 1997 levels by 2016.


BT is certainly doing its bit in reducing emissions and having been to a couple of their progress updates it’s clear that the company is putting a lot of time and effort into its actions. It’s all led by Chris Tuppen is BT’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Tuppen has had high-level involvement with the Global Reporting Initiative’ (GRI), the Global e-Sustainability (GeSI) and the European Telecommunication Network Operators Association’s environmental working group and he was also a co-editor of the SMART 2020 report.

The make or break of this new procurement initiative will be the level of support that BT provides to suppliers, particularly the smaller ones. While the programme is aimed at ‘encouraging’ suppliers, specific requirements and targets will be built into contract awards. It could create a negative reaction to what BT is trying to achieve unless the company also provides sufficient support and encouragement.

On the other hand, emissions have to be tackled up and down the supply chain and, realistically, it has to start with large companies applying pressure. BT has taken the initiative and is providing support to suppliers.

© The Green IT Review

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