@UK; measuring the carbon footprint of your supply chain

@UK are one of the more unusual solution providers I've come across in our procurement world.  Unusual in several ways; for a start, they are a quoted company on the AIM market having floated back in late 2005 with great prospects, only to see some of their plans fall away somewhat and the share price fall to 1p - although it is now back to 4p.

Unusual in that Ronald Duncan, their Executive Chairman and founder, is an ex-international level skier and ski journalist.

Unusual also in that their vision was and still is to some extent around enabling small companies to start trading electronically; so their product range includes company registration services, developing electronic marketplaces, and providing B2B or B2C platforms for clients.

But over the latter years it is their spend analysis focus (which one could argue does not sit totally logically with these other parts of the business) that has become perhaps most interesting for procurement practitioners.

The analysis tool captures spend at a pretty detailed level, and @UK have had some success in particular with hospitals in terms  of helping them identify detailed spend patterns; for instance how many different types of gloves or specific devices they are using and price variations.  The level of detail provided by the @UK analysis enables that price benchmarking and compliance monitoring.  While this looks like a decent product, it is obviously competing in a crowded market (with specialists such as Spikes Cavell, Rosslyn, as well as firms with spend analysis within a wider product range such as BravoSoltuion, Emptoris and Intenda).

But recently, they've  launched something in conjunction with CenSA (Centre for Sustainability Accounting) that I'm not aware of elsewhere; two products that enable clients to identify the 'carbon footprint' of their supply base.  From their press release;

GreenInsight, which uses @UK's SpendInsight spend intelligence data, combined with CenSA's Input-Output models, to provide a fully automated sustainability analysis of every individual item purchased; and

GreenMarketplace which uses @UK's automated and manual classification e2class to identify all the products on the @UK marketplace. Combined with CenSA's Input-Output models GreenMarketplace provides carbon footprints for all the individual products being purchased through the marketplace.

The tool identifies the carbon footprint for different spend categories; it has to generalise somewhat of course, but it can indicate perhaps where as a buyer you might want to put your effort.  As we move to a world where these issues are increasingly important, being able to measure in some way your supply chain's carbon impact may well become more critical for procurement people.  What gets measured gets done, as they say.  In which case, we might even see @UK's share price rising again...*

Findel Education, the UK's largest educational supplier, are the first supplier to sign up to @UK's  'Green Marketplace'.  This means that "through use of the Green Marketplace, Findel Education will be able to publish the environmental impact of each of its products and provide the ability to offset the environmental impact, thereby effectively reducing the carbon footprint of its catalogue to zero".

I'd be very interested in practitioner views on this - is this going to take off as a big issue for procurement? Or is it a short-term 'fad'?

(* nb not to be interpreted as investment advice, speaking as someone who bought Rok shares a while ago...)

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