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Meeting the Government’s green agenda

According to the National Audit Office, about one-third of Government spending is awarded to external suppliers. That equated to £255 billion in 2018-2019. When choosing a contractor that delivers, the bar is (rightly) set high. So how does Kuehne+Nagel ensure it is hitting the mark when it comes to winning this high profile work, broadening its reach in this sector?

Working in the public interest

Government contractors have always been obliged to provide services in the public interest.  Last June, a National Procurement Policy Statement issued to government departments specified that they should ensure contractors for public procurement show regard in the following areas - creating new businesses, new jobs and new skills; tackling climate change and reducing waste, improving supplier diversity, innovation and resilience.

The greater the complexity, cost and risk, the more important a project or programme will be, so a more robust and rigorous a process is required to successfully set up, procure and manage contracts relating to it. 

Managing complexity

Public sector procurement can mystify anyone who bids for it.  It’s a bit like applying for jobs; there’s no guarantee you’ll get the work. 

That’s why for Sarah Donmez, Kuehne+Nagel’s tender expert, preparedness and clear goals are crucial.  This includes the importance of setting a winning strategy; clearly identified win themes supported by evidence to demonstrate that the company is able to deliver the solution. 

Specialist expertise

Sarah and her team’s specialist expertise has been in high demand due to a slew of recent government contract wins; some in support of new Covid-related measures, such as Covid testing kits, to transporting vaccines through customs.  It’s fair to say the past 18-months have been exceptionally busy.

While logistics in any sector isn’t straightforward - as it requires specialist knowledge or an in-depth understanding of Standard Operating Procedures - in the public sector, this can mean jumping through additional hoops.

It requires as a minimum, familiarity with a wide range of procedures from legal, compliance, regulatory frameworks, codes of conduct, procurement, tender processes, knowledge of health, safety and environment (HS&E) good practice, to the knowledge of environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters, and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies. 

Sustainability agenda

With the UK Government’s ten-point plan, for a green industrial revolution setting the scene in 2020, the publication of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy in the run up to COP26 last year brought even greater attention to the UK’s drive to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

And, in addition, the previously mentioned policy statement is the responsibility of every government department and every supplier is required to respond to it. 

Another practical implication for organisations, like Kuehne+Nagel, is a new requirement for any organisation submitting a tender for the public sector worth over £5 million to have a published carbon reduction plan (CRP). However, Sarah was in the enviable position that Kuehne+Nagel had already published a verified science-based target for carbon reduction - the gold standard in this field, with the aim of reducing our scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions 33% by 2030 from a 2019 base-year.

Green for our customers

Government departments that we work with, in common with other customers, are able to benefit from offsetting carbon emissions, using greener fuels for transport, and using technology platforms to measure emissions in order to make decisions that could positively impact carbon footprint.   

So too, where we manage buildings or logistics centres for the government, we ensure where possible the carbon footprint is minimised and waste reduced as much as possible.

Our green commitment

While our sustainability plans help our customers to reduce their footprint and do things more sustainably, Kuehne+Nagel also needs to show how it’s getting its own house in order in its CRP.

As a sizeable business in the UK, we either own or manage a lot of built space – warehouses, special fulfilment centres, offices, car parks and suchlike – so it’s incumbent upon us to work and behave in sustainable ways. 

This includes ensuring our warehouses are energy efficient, in lighting and heating and where feasible, with solar panels on the roof.  This also includes the vehicles used in our logistics facilities being electric, as much as possible and, wherever packaging or wrapping is required, it’s either made from renewable materials or, it can be re-used, where possible. 

Travelling less during lockdown

As around 5-15 per cent of greenhouse emissions are generated through business travel, it’s great that, like other businesses, we’ve managed to reduce our carbon footprint through several lockdowns.  However, we know this won’t last.  So, plans are afoot to see how we could do more.

We’re also taking care to minimise the waste generated in our operations, upstream transportation and distribution, as well as downstream transportation and distribution.

There’s a requirement too, for businesses who contract with the public sector, to refresh their CRP plans annually and make them publicly visible on their websites.  Future tender KPIs will also relate to a bidder’s CRP, something that Sarah says Kuehne+Nagel is prepared for.

Not resting on our laurels

Putting our money where our mouth is means going the extra mile.  In this respect, we recognise the importance of building a sustainable, robust and resilient business for ourselves and for our customers.

To this end, we appointed a new sustainability director for the first time in the UK, in October 2021.  Now, we can focus more on our sustainable solutions and how we can bring these into every area of our business and every contract. 

This won’t just be about our sustainable initiatives but also how we measure the commitment that both we and our customers are giving to this.

At a local level

Throughout the business, Kuehne+Nagel is embracing a green agenda with a growing number of site champions, who help our colleagues adopt more ‘green’ ways of doing things, whether it’s recycling or raising money for good environmental causes. 

As a business that’s keen to support its local communities, we’ve made sure that where there’s a local dimension to the work, for instance, as the Official Logistics Provider to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games next year, we will ensure we employ people in the local Birmingham area, where extra support is required to meet demand.

Next steps

Sarah’s keen that we evidence our green credentials as much as possible.  After all, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon in an effort to show willing but, she stresses, it’s important to prove that there’s rigour to our approach. 

So, for now, our customers can expect quarterly business reviews and KPIs, with an aim to agree on joint commitments on sustainability and a global sustainability report, published each year. 

Pride in our work

We’re rightly proud of our track record winning government contracts – especially during the difficult conditions imposed throughout the pandemic – but we know all too well not to take it for granted. 

This is why sustainability is yet another area of our business that requires continuous improvement.  Anywhere we can maximise our efforts to reduce carbon – for our customers, in our places of work and, in our lives outside of work – are under constant review.

About our expert

Sarah Donmez

Like many before her, Sarah ‘found’ her way into a career in logistics.  After managing international shipping worldwide for Clarks Limited, she joined Kuehne+Nagel and has remained with the business for over 20 years. 

She has held a variety of roles; each has served as a great foundation for her role today where she heads up the UK Commercial Bid Team and is the Industry Champion for Government.  Sarah enjoys the challenges of her role and is stimulated and highly motivated.

During this time, Sarah has relocated several times, once to her husband’s home country of Turkey and also to the UAE, where she started her family.