Construction Pollution: How UK Public Sector Buyers Can Prevent It

Sustainable procurement policies are essential to help businesses reduce their carbon emissions. One of the best places to start is to check how suppliers are keeping emissions to a minimum, especially in industries such as construction, with construction pollution being responsible for  7 to 14.5% of air pollution. So, how do you begin to transition to focusing on ethics and quality of suppliers over value?

Construction pollution is an issue the industry cannot ignore, but neither can public sector buyers. Everyone needs to do their part to reduce and prevent pollution in the UK, and a good place for procurement teams to start is to value ethical suppliers.

If you focus on ethical suppliers, it will also encourage more of the construction industry to follow suit. So, support construction companies that are leading by example. Here are some ways you can prevent construction pollution.

1. Set Procurement Targets

An excellent place to begin is to have your sustainability targets, which either adhere to your company’s overall or specifically target the procurement team’s goals. If you set a standard, suppliers will know you are serious about your sustainability targets and have thought them through.

It also makes it easier to narrow your search for ethical suppliers if you have already agreed on specific standards. It will speed up all sourcing and supplier management processes.

These standards may vary between industries. You may start by focusing on sectors with high emissions, such as construction. You can create a validation process to make finding ethical suppliers as efficient as possible.

2. Validate Supplier Claims

It is no use simply taking your supplier’s word for their processes; you need to understand them and see evidence of them. Unfortunately, ‘greenwashing’ is a common issue with all businesses. Do not risk using suppliers who do this, as you also become part of this phenomenon.

Greenwashing is when a company promotes that they are environmentally conscious but are not making changes to be more sustainable. They may have good intentions, but you need to ensure any claims are genuine.

A good way to validate claims is to check if they have sustainable certifications. For example, if they are associated with any organisation or use machinery rated as energy-efficient.

You can also check their experience and ask them to evidence sustainability claims. If suppliers know you validate claims, they will be motivated to take responsibility and make positive changes.

3. Do Not Forget Supplier’s Suppliers

Public sector buyers know the supply chain can be complex, but it is always beneficial in procurement to have transparency in the supply chain. This transparency can also help you understand if there are any weak links in the supply chain, in terms of environmental factors, along with other standards.

Often, construction companies may be aware of their emissions but neglect to consider their suppliers’ emissions. The impact of their supply chain can be significant, even more so than their operations. Look into the environmental costs of their suppliers and raise any concerns that come up.

4. Check Working Conditions

Another way to find ethical suppliers is to check how they treat their employees, which can indicate how much they invest in infrastructure that supports long-term growth. Are there fair wages, apprenticeships, and supportive contracts?

Companies that support staff well-being are more likely to support other ethical values, such as reducing emissions. Plus, employees satisfied with their job are more likely to adhere to worksite rules, such as waste disposal. They will be more mindful of their impact at the construction site.

5. Scrutinise Pollution Types

It is important to consider all the ways industries contribute to pollution levels. For example:

  • Noise pollution
  • Air pollution
  • Water pollution

One of the main reasons why construction sites have high emissions is due to the machinery. Machinery may be old and ineffective or emit high levels of pollutants. Check what the company policy is regarding servicing and maintenance of equipment.

Pollution in industries such as construction comes in many forms. Ethical companies should be working towards high equipment standards that reduce noise pollution. Noise pollution is also dangerous for humans in different ways.

You can also learn about what technology suppliers use to make their processes more efficient, such as waste disposal. In industries such as construction, check they are using sustainable or renewable tools too, such as sourcing from sustainable forests.

6. Gather Ethical Spend Data

It is essential to recognise the value of ethical suppliers who are low-impact and environmentally friendly. Sustainability needs to become a value standard buyers aim for instead of just focusing on cost efficiency.

One way to do this is to consolidate data to demonstrate its value and motivate your company to continue to see the value in ethical suppliers. Data also helps explain to other buyers how they can prevent pollution in the UK and how their choices impact emissions more than they realise. You can also use data to inspire suppliers to up their standards.

Eventually, this spending data can help improve the entire supply chain, especially in industries such as construction. It enables you to avoid greenwashing and weak links, instead ensuring others see the impact value ethical suppliers can have on UK pollution levels.

Consolidating data also shows how ethical suppliers add value, such as more customer confidence and sales due to procurement accomplishments.

Reduce Construction Pollution

It is time that buyers take responsibility for reducing UK pollution levels. You can follow these tips in all industries. But construction pollution is one of the highest out of all sectors.

It is essential to know how procurement can have a meaningful impact on the environment but still meet targets. One of the main ways of doing this is to pick ethical suppliers and ensure the supplier network is working to prevent pollution in the UK.

Do you want assistance transitioning to ethical suppliers? We are here to help you streamline your procurement processes and keep your integrity intact. Book a free demo today as a public sector buyer to learn how we can help you.

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