Suppliers representing 75 per cent of Sodexo’s supply chain emissions have already received a roadmap, including a 2030 deadline for making tangible progress

Sodexo UK & Ireland has announced that from January 2030 it will only work with suppliers demonstrating tangible progress towards net zero through published reporting.

The food services and facilities management business was one of the first organisations to have its target – to reach net zero in the UK and Ireland by 2040 – validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

The foodservice giant currently works with more than 4,000 supply partners, spending over £800m every year.

The organisation said it has been transparent about its net zero progress, including the fact that just two per cent of its total emissions sit in Scopes 1 and 2 – in the direct control of Sodexo UK & Ireland. Of the remaining 98 per cent, 34 per cent sit within its supply chain.

Supply partners were first made aware of Sodexo’s new net zero supply chain engagement strategy and roadmap in March 2023, during the company’s Partners with Purpose supplier conference.

The organisation had, however, already begun working closely with a number of its suppliers to support them in formalising and documenting expectations to reduce carbon emissions.

Sodexo said its supplier mentoring programme is key to the success of this strategy. Around 70 per cent of the Sodexo supply chain in the UK and Ireland is made up of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs), most of which cannot be expected to have teams dedicated to sustainability or afford consultancy support.

While Sodexo is being clear with its supply partners about expectations, the business is also offering considerable support where these organisations are experiencing challenges, to help them complete the work needed to hit the milestones.

For example, Sodexo UK & Ireland has introduced a two-year grace period for SMEs and VCSEs needing extra help to complete some of the requirements.

The first milestone is being implemented. Sodexo requires suppliers representing 75 per cent of its supply chain emissions to provide a detailed annual carbon reduction plan identifying opportunities for collaboration and areas of improvement, while also reporting on scope 1 and 2 emissions at the minimum.

Further milestones that Sodexo has set on its roadmap include:

From January 2024, the evaluation criteria of all tenders must include a minimum of 10 per cent Social Value Weighting.

By September 2025, suppliers representing 75 per cent of Sodexo’s supply chain emissions will need to have set their net zero science-based targets validated by the SBTi.

By September 2027, suppliers representing 90 per cent of Sodexo’s supply chain emissions will need to have set their own SBTi-validated net zero targets.

By January 2030, Sodexo will only partner with suppliers who can demonstrate tangible progress through published reporting.

Initial research conducted by Sodexo in November 2021 revealed that, of 87 suppliers polled, 62 per cent had already made a commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050 or sooner, while 20 per cent did not have a carbon reduction plan in place.

The survey also revealed that the majority of its suppliers were at that time only measuring scopes 1 and 2, with just 37 per cent measuring all three scopes.

Aoife Wycherley, head of supply chain at Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “We have always known that this is not going to be easy, it will be hugely complex and will require an enormous collective effort throughout our entire value chain.

“We are so proud of the extensive and diverse supply chain we have built – we genuinely work with some incredible businesses, big and small.

“Many of our suppliers have already told us they are passing this message down through their own supply chain, which over time has the potential to create a significant ripple effect.”

Sodexo UK and Ireland started its journey towards net zero in 2010, calculating its scope 1 and 2 emissions in partnership with WWF.

In January 2023, Sodexo recorded in its progress update report a 33 per cent reduction in scope 1,2 and 3 GHG emissions, compared to its 2017 baseline.