Go Green Sustainable Sourcing Workshop

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The early morning of Tuesday 24th November saw a completely full house for our exclusive Go Green Sustainable Sourcing Workshop held at Yurt Lush, home of Eat Drink Bristol Fashion’s fabulous Mongolian yurt at Temple Quay, tucked behind Temple Meads train station.

This unique venue provided the perfect setting for getting our creative juices flowing to explore how businesses can address sourcing issues, improve the sustainability of their supply chain and supply a more sustainable product or service to customers.


After a delicious and of course, sustainably sourced Yurt Lush breakfast, we heard a compelling presentation from Steve Sliney from Collecteco.  Steve explained that working with Go Green and its members this year has helped them to see huge value in taking waste office furniture and re-distributing it locally.  It has also become apparent that their warehouse is full of perfectly good items that can help local organisations to source office furniture sustainably and save themselves a great deal of money in the process.

Collecteco has worked with PwC to clear offices and re-deploy furniture to other offices around the country.  Left over items were sold to SMEs and also given to charities.  More remarkably, the furniture left in storage was taken back by PwC when they needed items for other office relocation projects.  This move enabled PwC to demonstrate to staff that they are indeed practicing what they preach.

Another great example is the new Filwood Green Business Park, the region’s most environmentally friendly commercial building, which is fitted out with 80% reused kit from the clearance of Bristol City Hall, as well as other local businesses.  The furniture was given a quick clean and some re-adjustments to size by Knowle West Media Centre’s The Factory.

Some of the key things to consider with reused furniture are:

  • Ensure quality by checking reused kit complies with safety standards.
  • Does the reused kit fit with existing furniture set up?
  • How quickly does kit need to be delivered, does it have to be next day or can you wait a few days to source suitable kit and if necessary, have it adapted to suit existing space/decor?
  • Can you fix your current items rather than throw them away?
  • Will items fit with recommendations from a work station assessment?

RBS Workplace Services

We then heard from Mike Lynch from Royal Bank of Scotland Workplace Services who told us how RBS have aligned their activities to the five pillars of Go Green and are working with suppliers, staff, colleagues and the community to reduce their environmental footprint.

RBS recognised that their upstream carbon emissions outweigh what they as an organisation produce themselves.  As a result of this, they realised that they needed new ideas to help them to reach their target of 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.  They collaborated with 2degrees to launch the RBS Innovation Gateway to discover and nurture new innovations to help drive resource efficiency across their estate.  The Innovation Gateway encourages SMEs, innovators or inventors to submit ideas for improving energy, waste or water efficiency and helps them to achieve their goals by providing support, grants and opportunities to test the product and help accelerate it to market.

Yurt Lush

Amelia Twine from Yurt Lush was sadly unable to attend at the last minute, however she sent us some information so that we were still able to share some of her experiences.  Amelia outlined the strides they have taken and the problems they have faced in trying to source sustainably and support local food producers in and around the Bristol area.  Yurt Lush, a part of Eat Drink Bristol Fashion, opened in 2013 and their menus are based on their ‘field to fork’ ethos – keeping food chains short and produce local.

One key problem they have faced is small scale producers being unable to maintain a regular and guaranteed supply.  Being let down by deliveries has a real impact on catering staff and chefs at Yurt Lush found they were struggling to keep up with ever-growing demand and unreliable suppliers.  As a result, they were also having to fall back on using larger, less sustainable ‘back-up’ suppliers.

Amelia instigated a full audit of their sourcing in 2015 to determine the core problems and to implement ways of ensuring that they are able to support local suppliers and work with them going forwards.  Some of the things they did were:

  • Emphasise to suppliers that reliability is absolutely paramount to their business needs.
  • Join the Sustainable Restaurant Association and develop sourcing standards that all their cafes and staff members will work to.
  • Request that back-up suppliers do not supply produce which is airfreighted and that it all originates from Europe, though this does need constant monitoring.
  • Agree with their coffee supplier that they must always deliver fair trade sugar and that their direct trade coffee is delivered in biodegradable packaging.
  • Upon placing an order, ensure that chefs always review it with the supplier, so that the supplier is fully aware of their sustainable criteria.

Environment Agency Workshop

Sally Taylor and Nina Davenport from the Environment Agency then led an interactive workshop and took us through examples of how to assess priority areas for addressing sustainable sourcing within your business.  They also encouraged us to understand the various impacts of these high spend/high priority areas, how to manage these impacts as well as how to identify opportunities by working with suppliers through the procurement lifecycle.

"The shift to sustainability happens one person and one organisation at a time. This means the starting point for addressing today’s many crises is each of us."

Doppelt, B 2012. The Guardian, Business leaders need systemic thinking for sustainability

Key messages on sustainable sourcing:

  • Sustainable sourcing helps you to practice what you preach and provide a consistent message to staff.
  • During the procurement cycle, be flexible with what you require from suppliers – make this outcome based rather than very prescriptive as suppliers may come up with innovative solutions you may not otherwise have considered.
  • Think how your own business could supply a service rather than a product and generally supply a more sustainable option to your own customers.
  • The upstream impact of your organisation is likely to be larger than your internal, day to day impact, therefore addressing sourcing issues can have huge benefits.
  • Collaboration is key – considering following in the footsteps of RBS and getting all your key suppliers in a room together and see how they can help you to complete actions on your Go Green Action Plan!