Reducing O2's supply chain emissions with the Carbon Trust

By Keithley Martin, Head of Supplier Development and Vijay Chouhan, Energy Manager

At O2 we’ve worked hard to hardwire sustainability into our operations. We have strived to not just take responsibility for the social and environmental impact of our products and services, but to be recognised as a leader in sustainability.

In 2010, we were the first in the telecoms sector to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for Carbon, recognising our achievements in successfully reducing our carbon footprint. And we have maintained this certification with a focus on continuous improvement.

Then in 2012, we launched our first sustainability plan, the Think Big Blueprint, working with our customers, employees, charity and business partners, suppliers and peers to build a more sustainable future.  We set ourselves three ambitious goals to support young people, help our customers make sustainable choices and reduce our own environmental impacts. .

Thanks to our work in delivering these goals, in 2014, O2 became the first telecoms company to achieve triple certification to the Carbon Trust Standard, gaining recognition for our progress on waste and water, alongside retaining our certification of our carbon emissions reductions. By this point we had delivered a significant reduction of our carbon emissions and associated savings along with it – leading the way in our industry.

Last year we began the next phase of our Think Big Blueprint with a new target to help 20 million people to live better with technology by 2020. This coincided with O2 successfully achieving triple re-certification to the Carbon Trust Standard. And we also added in another new element to our sustainability progress.

We know that as a business with a large procurement spend we have the opportunity, the responsibility and the influence to improve sustainability within our supply chain. Working with the Carbon Trust and likeminded suppliers, O2 has now become the first organisation globally to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain at Level 3 – the highest level.

The standard is the world’s first independent certification for recognising organisations that are measuring, managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions within their supply chains. It is particularly challenging to take action on environmental impacts outside of one’s direct control, so there are only a handful of organisations globally that have achieved this leading certification at any level. To retain it in future we will need to continue to engage with our suppliers, driving tangible reductions in their carbon emissions.

We have taken a particularly strong approach, ensuring that commitments to carbon reductions are included in supplier contracts for each major purchase.  It’s a testament to our commitment to being a responsible business that we use our procurement process to not only deliver high quality products and services to our customers, but to also push our suppliers towards making commitments to emissions reductions.

Today we are already contractually engaged in carbon reduction progammes with suppliers representing nearly 20% of our total supply chain emissions. And having integrated carbon reduction into our procurement process, we anticipate actively engaging even more of our suppliers over the coming months.

For more information about the Carbon Trust certification click here.

For more information about O2’s sustainability commitments and Blueprint click here.