GSK to slash emissions by 25% with new supplier exchange

Global chemicals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has set up a new information exchange for its suppliers to share best practice on energy efficiency and reducing environmental impacts.

More than 500 suppliers have been asked to join the network, which GSK expects to cut value chain emissions by 25% by 2020.

The British multinational, which sells healthcare products like Nicorette, Sensodyne and Panadol among other things, spent more than £2bn a year buying materials, with more than 40% of its carbon footprint coming from the procurement of those materials.

Powerful tool

“We established that 65% of our suppliers did not have an active programme in place to reduce energy costs,” said Matt Wilson, head of GSK’s global Environmental Sustainability Centre of Excellence.

“In addition, no one single supplier had more than a 1% impact on our carbon footprint, so the task looked huge. We were going to have to engage an enormous number of suppliers if we were to make a material impact in helping to reduce their carbon footprint – to help us reduce ours. Our challenge was how best to tackle this.”

The  result was the GSK Supplier Exchange, set up in collaboration with 2degrees, an information-sharing platform for sustainable businesses.

“The platform provides a powerful way to engage a large number of suppliers at one time, and we’ve been able to create multiple connections because of this,” added Wilson. “One innovative example is connecting our customer – the NHS – with our suppliers about their challenges. This is adding real value and is also motivating our suppliers to come up with the right solutions, first time.”

Holistic approach

Over the past year, GSK has also been running energy reduction workshops at supplier sites, identifying opportunities to save 5,000 tonnes of CO2 and reduce energy costs by 20-30%.

GSK has also started publically recognising its suppliers’ efforts to reduce their environmental impacts through the GSK Supplier Environmental Sustainability Award.

Packaging supplier Albéa, which supplies GSK with tubes for its toothpaste, was the first to win the award for its comprehensive energy efficiency programme. GSK has previously been identified by CDP as an industry leader in its work on reporting on indirect emissions and supply chain impacts.

Brad Allen

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