Javier Roig
Javier Roig Senior Procurement Manager
14 Feb 2024

Ground Control has ambitious, SBTi-verified targets to achieve carbon net zero by 2038. As recognising this is still some time away, we are focusing on what we can do by 2030. This includes reducing our direct operational emissions (scope 1 & 2) by 90%, and a 42% reduction in our value chain emissions (scope 3).

Effective procurement and supply chain management is essential for us to achieve our ambitious 2030 targets.

Although they only account for around 5% of our overall total, we should not diminish the importance of our scope 1 and 2 emissions, encompassing the electricity and fuel we buy, as they are the ones we can impact the most and have the greatest control over. While 2030 might seem a long way off, we cannot be complacent and need to achieve quick wins where we can rather than wait until the deadline is upon us. 

With that in mind, we have already implemented several initiatives in Procurement, designed to help Ground Control achieve its objectives. We’ve engaged an energy management company so we're now buying energy for our estate from companies who only supply energy from certified renewable sources.  We are also working with the landlords of our yards and depots around the country so we can do the same there as well.

We have implemented a procurement strategy to ensure all new equipment procured is battery-powered, where the technology is available, and are now well on the way with our transition from petrol and diesel equipment to battery-powered tools such as hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, and lawn mowers by 2026. One of our main challenges is around technology, but if you look at what’s available today compared to a year ago, things are moving on quickly. What’s also a challenge is getting buy-in from those who will be using the equipment. Some are quite attached to the kit they’ve been using for years, so there can be a little resistance to change.

Here’s where our close relationship with suppliers comes in. Companies like Stihl and Husqavana have an amazing level of expertise and have the technical data to show how viable the battery-powered alternatives are, so we are working with them to arrange demonstrations and get the new kit into the hands of our colleagues. We have demo days upcoming and are publicising them across the business so as many people as possible attend.

The expense of buying it is also a potential barrier to adoption for some, but the lower running costs mean there is a strong commercial argument for switching as well as the sustainability case. We have been working with our suppliers to present these whole life costs to back this argument.

We are also keeping a close eye on the market to see what’s available and monitoring developments. To date, we are a little frustrated we haven’t been able to transition some of our larger vehicles and equipment over to electric alternatives as quickly as we would have liked, but the technology is getting better, so it’s a case of watching this space. We have made great progress with transitioning our fleet, having replaced most of our cars and small vans with electric models, and are well on the way to having a fully electric passenger fleet by next year (2025).

We see this very much as a partnership. Many of our suppliers are much bigger companies than we are, have equally ambitious net zero targets, and in some cases are further along in their journeys, so there’s a lot we can learn from them too. I think we are now being far more proactive with them, building sustainability requirements into our tender processes and targeting suppliers who have carbon reduction plans in place and share the same values as us.

It is important to remember that what we do counts towards our clients’ Scope 3 emissions (those generated in a company’s supply chain). That’s why close cooperation with our supply chain is crucial. It helps us achieve our targets and, by extension, shows our clients we are committed to improving their overall environmental performance. This collaboration will enable Ground Control and our suppliers to be a net zero part of our clients’ supply chains, which will be an essential element of their own journeys.

Ground Control’s focus on sustainability played a significant role in me wanting to join the business and the Procurement team, which is critical to the company achieving its net zero goals. We have oversight across the organisation, but we also have strong links with our supply chain, so we do see the big picture.

While Procurement plays a leading role in this, everyone at Ground Control needs to be working towards our ambitious target, from our administrative staff at the head office to our field teams. What’s struck me since I joined the company is how ingrained in the organisation’s culture this is. From the top down, the commitment to leaving the world in a better place than we found it is evident throughout. And it’s exactly what we’ll need if we are going to hit our net zero target.

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