United Utilities’ purchasing department has endorsed the firm’s sustainable procurement strategy, which is now saving £7 million a year.
A survey of the firm’s supply department, which employs 65 people, showed 90 per cent thought the company was socially responsible, 97 per cent thought the company is environmentally responsible and 90 per cent knew what action they can take to be environmentally responsible. All of the survey scores from the supply department were below 50 per cent when United Utilities first devised its sustainable supply chain strategy about two years ago.
Kieran Brocklebank, head of strategy and performance of United Utilities Supply Chain said the programme was delivered with a budget of less than £25,000. “We have not really spent anything other than time. Our CEO set every department a challenge to raise their game on sustainability and we decided to pick that up in supply chain and deliver.” Reputation was also a factor in the programme, he said. “We know that we can win new business by being sustainable.” United Utilities bids for capital programmes work for other utilities companies, in electricity, gas and water supply. Brocklebank said the sustainability programme would also help the firm attract the best talent.
The firm’s sustainability policy was devised with the help of not-for-profit consultancy Action Sustainability. Director Shaun McCarthy said United Utilities had gone into its sustainability programme for sound commercial reasons. Although a private company, the firm was perceived as a public utility, so a strong sustainability policy helped its reputation with the public and the regulator, he said. It was also good for United Utilities’ bottom line.