Newport City Council’s journey to decarbonising procurement

This case study outlines the significant project Newport City Council has embarked on to identify the carbon emissions stemming from procurement, with the aim of decarbonising to reach our target of Net Zero by 2030.

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This case study outlines the significant project Newport City Council has embarked on to identify the carbon emissions stemming from procurement, with the aim of decarbonising to reach our target of Net Zero by 2030. The case study outlines the initial steps taken, including the identification of a diverse range of businesses and engaging with them in carbon reduction efforts. 

The challenges encountered with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are addressed through an innovative project designed to educate and support them. The case study emphasises the importance of empowering organisations and enhancing supplier engagement in the transition to sustainability.

The challenge

The need for public sector organisations to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 grows more urgent with each day. To meet this target, drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are necessary. Our Climate Change Plan states that in 2020/21, 77 per cent of our Carbon Emissions can be attributed to Procurement activities (Scope 3). This presented a challenging yet crucial opportunity to identify areas where we can drive the most impactful changes. As we endeavour to achieve carbon neutrality, our intent is to inspire, encourage, and motivate external organisations to follow suit. Collaborative endeavours are imperative to effectively combat climate change.

In order to reduce our procurement emissions, we needed to update our carbon emission data with contemporary, nuanced methodologies that reflect the intricacies of our supply chain landscape. This recalibration would not only enhance the accuracy of our emissions reporting but would also empower us to foster partnerships with environmentally responsible suppliers, paving the way for a greener, more conscientious future.

The initial objective for this project revolved around engaging with the major organisations and businesses within our supply chain. The aim was to gather insights on their Carbon Reduction Plans and ascertain whether they currently record their emissions. Extensive data analysis concluded that 50% of our spend was with a small number of businesses.

Once the list of initial suppliers to engage with was finalised, I initiated conversations with our Procurement team, Heads of Service, and Service Managers. The objective was to secure the necessary contact information for the relevant individuals in our top suppliers.

A substantial portion of our top suppliers were contacted without difficulty. Larger corporations displayed swift responsiveness as they readily shared their sustainability reports or provided consumption figures for gas, electricity, and fuel usage, which were instrumental in calculating kgCO2e through relevant emissions factors.

However, engaging with the smaller organisations within our top 50 per cent of spend presented challenges. These businesses, due to their limited exposure to emissions reporting, posed hurdles in the data collection process. Their lack of familiarity with reporting requirements underscored the need for guidance and support.

The solution

Recognising this pivotal juncture, we embarked on a project to produce our own Carbon Emissions Calculator for our supply chain. This ambitious project was grounded in adaptability, designed to cater to all of our suppliers, regardless of their carbon reporting experience. Our collective aspiration was to reshape the landscape, empowering organisations of all sizes to embark on this crucial journey of emissions reporting, and inevitably, becoming more sustainable.

The inception of the NCC Carbon Reporting Toolkit took place in May 2023, utilising the emission factors and structure of the Welsh Government toolkit. Ours has been carefully structured, comprising various sections, with an initial emphasis on asking for suppliers’ general information. This segment poses a series of pertinent inquiries, enquiring into the category of the organisation, turnover figures, provision of data specific to contracts with us (to avoid double counting), and notably, whether the organisation currently engages in emissions reporting.

For those who do record their emissions, these organisations are prompted to input their Scope 1, 2, and 3 data. Based on this information, we determine the proportion of our annual spend for the business relative to their annual turnover. This percentage figure is then used again to calculate what percentage of these emissions can be attributed to Newport City Council.

Conversely, for suppliers that do not report on their emissions our toolkit provides them with assistance by furnishing extensive sources of valuable resources and links to enhance their knowledge. A dedicated section has been crafted to capture their distinct consumption data. This includes:

  • Gas (kWh)
  • Operational Electricity Use (kWh)
  • Heating Oil (Litres)
  • LPG (Litres)
  • Fuel usage (£ spent, litres, kWh, mileage)
  • Vehicle Electricity Use (kWh)
  • Biofuel usage (Litres, kg)

Each supplier is asked to only input information for each category that relates to their operation. This segment affords the flexibility of either annual or monthly reporting, ensuring a tailored approach that suits our supplier’s convenience. This ease of use empowers their active engagement in this process. The toolkit autonomously calculates the emissions for each supplier. This presents suppliers with their definitive emissions total for the specific year. At this stage, any information we receive from our suppliers is a step in the right direction.

The impact

So far, the emissions data that we have received from our suppliers has shown a decrease in kgCO2e when compared to the original spend based Tier 1 calculations previously employed. This holds immense significance as it provides us with precise data essential for the effective allocation of scarce decarbonisation resources. The difference in these calculated emissions isn't a reduction; rather, it unveils the authentic metric, allowing for a comparison with emissions from different sectors. This analysis offers valuable insights into the distribution of our environmental impact and assists in informed decision-making for strategic mitigation efforts.

Our collaboration with our supply chain has been truly remarkable and immensely beneficial. As we move forward, our aim is to partner with our suppliers to actively support their journey towards decarbonising, and this collaboration marks a significant and positive stride in our engagement efforts.

How is the new approach being sustained?

As we still in the early stages of implementing the toolkit, our engagement with suppliers remains ongoing, actively assisting them to navigate through these new requirements. Our commitment to the project's success is underscored by our close collaboration with internal stakeholders. Together, we have made significant modifications to the procurement process, strategically aligning it with the project's objectives. By embedding carbon related requirements at the contract stage we are streamlining the adoption of sustainable practices across our procurement process.

It's important to note that while this process may appear that it would favour organisations already well-versed in emissions reporting or those well equipped for completion, our design ensures a level playing field, especially for SMEs. We are fully committed to offering unwavering support throughout the tender process, ensuring that smaller organisations encounter no disadvantages. We will assist them in understanding the prerequisites and effectively fulfilling them. Our primary goal is to avoid any semblance of exclusion for small businesses. This holds particularly true for those operating in and around Newport. Recognising that our local suppliers constitute the foundation of both our supply chain and city, our intent is to foster an environment where they can flourish within the evolving landscape.

Lessons learned

This external engagement process has been instrumental in our development, enabling us to acquire valuable insights, inspire others, and be inspired in return.

As we collaborate with partner public sector organisations to enhance this toolkit, with the goal of providing comprehensive support to all businesses within Newport and beyond, we find ourselves on the brink of a transformative era.


Theo Bishop – Graduate Management Trainee, Environment and Public Protection

Email: [email protected]