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Achieving sustainability with your supply chain

19th December 2011

Annabelle Flower, Member Services Executive, BQFAnnabelle Flower, Member Services Executive, BQF

The BQF's Sustainable Development Networking Group recently met at Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium to learn about their sustainable supply chain and the value of sustainability in business.

Keith McIntosh, Old Trafford's Health, Safety and Environment Manager, together with his supplier, Andrew Robinson, Director of Rigby Taylor, presented their achievements in transforming Manchester United's supply chain and their reasons for doing so.

Keith has been behind the successful establishment of a sustainable supply chain at the club since 2003, and continues to work with his suppliers to improve their green credentials through their strategy 'The Reds Go Green'.

While a Premier League football club may not necessarily be the first to spring to mind in terms of being a sustainable business, what Keith and Andrew have achieved together is a fantastic example of how working in partnership can bring long term benefits.

The collaboration began in 2003 thanks to an Envirowise programme, which has since become part of WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme). It was Keith who first contacted Andrew to put him in touch with the Envirowise partnership programme and, despite his initial reservations, the company has achieved significant savings by re-developing many of the existing products and reducing packaging, with subsequent savings on transport and delivery costs.

Members of the Sustainable Development Networking Group in the Manchester United players’ changing room. For Andrew, it was the partnership with Keith and Manchester United that served as the catalyst for both the savings and growth that Rigby Taylor have since achieved.

The sustainability success stories of companies such as Manchester United and Rigby Taylor clearly demonstrate the advantages of engaging and collaborating with suppliers. It also proves the importance of applying sustainable practices to all areas of the business, in particular the operational side.

Overall the day was extremely informative and thought-provoking, with many varied topics covered. In addition to Keith and Andrew, the group was privileged to welcome Barbara Morton, director of Sustainable Procurement Limited.

Barbara has worked in the field of procurement and supply chain management for over 25 years, during which time she has specialised in helping organisations to integrate sustainability into procurement practice. Barbara has also been Technical Advisor to an international Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement since 2005 and has developed and delivered training in Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Malaysia and Paris, working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). At Old Trafford, Barbara presented on the challenges, benefits and solutions to instigating a sustainable supply chain, concluding that sustainability presents real business opportunities.

We rounded off the event with a tour of the stadium to see other sustainable initiatives that Manchester United, under Keith's direction, have implemented, from carbon capture of the grass on the pitch to the harvesting of rain water.

The Sustainable Development Networking Group will be hosting more exciting events in 2012 - please contact me if you'd like to get involved.