Procurement teams are playing a key role in the journey to net zero, and this will likely dominate the minds of business leaders as we move into 2022 and beyond. At Proxima, we are firm believers in utilizing procurement to drive positive change and recently brought together leaders in sustainable procurement to discuss emerging trends in decarbonization. This includes cross-discipline collaboration, technological innovation, and the importance of data.

We have set out what is needed when looking to move to a net zero supply chain and start tackling this new procurement challenge.

Collaboration is key

Collaboration both internally and externally is key to delivering emission reductions. Procurement professionals can take a central role in driving change; bringing together cross-discipline collaboration from sustainability experts, finance, and the executive team.

This challenge also requires many broken systems to be re-imagined with new ones. Net zero will not be achieved in a silo by one business and we need to ask new questions on where businesses compete and where they do not. Some voices argue that sustainability and tackling Scope 3 emissions could be viewed in the same way as safety – not to be compromised on or competed over.

Identify focus areas

In response to growing pressure from consumers and regulators, businesses have set lofty net zero ambitions. To turn this vision into a reality, focus is needed. Businesses must take a methodical and considered approach – identifying focus areas where impact can be made. These focus areas must be reflective of the type of business as this will impact where emissions are being sourced. As such it is vital that businesses are equipped with an in-depth knowledge of all the available ESG metrics across the entirety of the supply chain.

The data challenge

Data is the key to accelerating the journey to a net zero supply chain. A business must have a clear picture to identify where progress can be made but the challenge is that the data available is far from robust. Standardization doesn’t currently exist when it comes to ESG and it can be difficult to know where to focus efforts. The data will catch up, but we cannot wait around when it comes to taking action. The important thing is to take that first step and kick start the process. Identify the data you have, analyze where improvements can be made, and implement strategies based on those data points. Efficient decarbonization must be built upon solid data and businesses must navigate barriers like regulation and competitiveness which limit data sharing. Access to data will ultimately democratize decarbonization.

Whilst challenges certainly remain when it comes to emissions data, carbon accounting is progressing. Technological innovation using AI and machine learning means that there are increasingly advanced means of assessing data. This means that strategies can be more targeted and deliver more lasting impact and value for the business. Harnessing this technology and ensuring that progress continues on this trajectory is key – this puts the power in the hands of business leaders to enact positive change.

A vision for the future

At a point in the future, the term ‘sustainable procurement’ will become obsolete, with sustainability being fully embedded into business practices. Today, by taking on this challenge, procurement can help drive their businesses and the broader community forward to a better more sustainable future.

Are you trying to help your business reach net zero? Get in touch to discuss how Decarbonization-as-a-Service can work for you.