Crown Commercial Service and Cabinet Office: Partnership and Collaboration of the Year

Crown Commercial Service and Cabinet Office won edie’s Partnership and Collaboration of the Year award for the implementation of the innovative ‘Carbon Reduction Plan’ policy, which aims to leverage Government procurement to drive carbon emission reductions and achieve net-zero by 2050.

Crown Commercial Service and Cabinet Office: Partnership and Collaboration of the Year

At a glance: 
Who: Crown Commercial Service and Cabinet Office 
What: Carbon Reduction Plan policy implementation 
Where: The UK 
When: Implemented since September 2021 
Why: To decarbonise the supply chain 

The Challenge:  

The vast majority of the Government’s carbon footprint comes from its suppliers, making decarbonising the supply chain critical for achieving net-zero by 2050.   

Understanding the critical role suppliers play in the Government’s carbon footprint, the two entities aimed to implement a policy that would not only have a significant environmental impact but also minimise disruption, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  

The Solution:  

Crown Commercial Service and Cabinet Office jointly developed the ‘Carbon Reduction Plan’ policy, in a bid to address the imperative of reducing the Government’s carbon footprint by leveraging procurement practices.   

The policy mandates that suppliers bidding for major contracts, valued at £5m per annum and above, disclose their strategies for mitigating carbon emissions and achieving net-zero targets by 2050. It serves as a comprehensive framework for suppliers to outline their current carbon footprint, detail environmental management measures and commit to specific actions for reducing emissions over time.   

How it works:  

Under the policy, suppliers are required to demonstrate a commitment to net-zero in their carbon reduction plans to be eligible to proceed with the procurement process. This requirement is applied at the selection stage, ensuring that all interested suppliers are influenced to adopt sustainable practices. Suppliers who fail to submit a compliant carbon reduction plan are deselected from the procurement process.   

To facilitate compliance with the policy, Crown Commercial Service and Cabinet Office provide support and guidance to suppliers. This includes the provision of a carbon reduction plan template, FAQs and detailed guidance documents to assist suppliers in preparing their plans. Additionally, the organisations collaborate with industry bodies to deliver training and support sessions for suppliers, ensuring that they have the resources and knowledge needed to develop robust and ambitious carbon reduction plans.  

Furthermore, Crown Commercial Service and Cabinet Office continuously monitor and evaluate the implementation of the policy to identify areas for improvement and ensure its effectiveness in driving carbon emissions reduction. This includes collecting data on carbon reduction plan submissions, monitoring supplier compliance and soliciting feedback from stakeholders to inform future policy revisions and enhancements.  

The results:  

Since its inception, the ‘Carbon Reduction Plan’ policy has been integrated into more than £280bn worth of Government contracts. Additionally, more than 98% of suppliers have provided compliant carbon reduction plans, indicating widespread industry acceptance and adoption of the policy.  

The initiative has also garnered international recognition, with the UN Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other governments citing it as best practice in commercial and environmental standards.  

Moreover, the Cabinet Office and Crown Commercial Service have supported the US, the World Bank and Canada to develop similar measures for their own procurement regimes, underscoring the UK’s leadership on climate action.  

The Judges said:  

“This was a brilliant example of partnerships done right. It is integrated by design, giving it much wider leverage, influence and impact. It is a game-changing and world-leading initiative that will embed sustainability across industries.”  

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