Greening your supply chain: How 3 businesses tackled the challenge

It’s one of the toughest steps in getting to net zero. Check out how these leading companies approached the largest emitters in their networks.

dsquared consulting

Location: Adelaide

dsquared consulting provides ecologically sustainable design advice for the built environment. We spoke with associate, Jacob Potter. He explained dsquared’s journey began when it joined CitySwitch in 2013/2014 and received NABERS energy ratings. It then became Climate Active certified in 2017.

We started to understand more about our emissions and investigate the impacts of our supply chain. In 2023, we decided to join the Just label for socially just and equitable organisations. We also look at our supply chain from an equitable purchasing perspective. Each year we’re trying to improve. Who you work with needs to align with that. There are more data and standards coming through every year, so it’s a very dynamic environment .

Initially dsquared’s focus was on emissions in its direct control (scope 1 and 2) but opportunities quickly ran out. It installed solar panels, upgraded air-conditioning systems, installed energy efficient lights and changed electricity retailers.

As more than 90% of dsquared’s emissions were beyond its control (scope 3), the team realised the suppliers and products it chooses has a great impact.

To green its supply chain dsquared introduced the following:

  • Improved waste management : monitoring waste diversion across multiple waste streams. It reports monthly and quarterly, and aims to divert more than 90% of their waste from landfill. The largest waste streams identified were organics (food scraps), lunch packaging and takeaway coffee cups. dsquared hired EcoCaddy to collect organic waste weekly and banned single use plastic packaging. It also purchased an automatic coffee machine which helped slash coffee cup waste.

  • A green cleaning policy : focuses on reducing chemical use and waste. This includes GECA certified products and a less frequent, lighter touch cleaning service.

  • Switching to a local electricity retailer : the local South Australian company makes direct renewable energy investments.

  • Upgrading IT equipment : this extends the life of its computers, rather than buying new units outright. It has also reused parts from disused laptops. For any new equipment purchases, dsquared chooses a supplier that analyses its own emissions and purchases carbon offsets for new computers and laptops.

  • Paper : purchasing carbon neutral and/or 100% recycled paper from Australian suppliers.

dsquared’s largest focus in recent times has been on a new office fitout. It aimed for a 6 Green Star rating. Office fitouts often result in large amounts of waste. dsquared focused on:

  • Reused furniture : As much furniture as possible was used from its previous fitout. For new furniture dsquared used Egans. It provided second-hand furniture and chairs for the boardroom and meeting rooms.

  • Purchasing surplus carpet stock: Rather than buying off-the-self, dsquared used a carpet supplier to purchase surplus stock that would have otherwise been sent to landfill. This reduced the manufacture of virgin materials and also reduced costs.

  • Lighting upgrades : A South Australian company assessed the fittings and lights. To reduce waste to landfill, the fittings were retained and the tubes were upgraded to LEDs to reduce electricity use. This reduced both the quantity of materials used and cost of the fit-out.

  • End of trip facilities : A shower and secure bicycle store were built. This encourages active commutes to reduce emissions. dsquared also workshopped options like car share and financial subsidies to increase uptake of public transport.

  • Products and materials : For the new build, minimum targets and mandatory requirements were set. Products and materials had to be certified to verify low-emissions and environmental impact. This covered furniture, cabinetry, wood products, paints, and adhesives.

  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): This revealed the embodied emissions of the fitout and highlighted the emissions reductions. dsquared will be purchasing carbon offsets for the remainder of emissions

Michelle Morris, Tom Sloane and Ann Duffy of MI Global Partners

MI Global Partners

Location: Sydney with employees in Melbourne, greater Geelong and Brisbane.

MI Global Partners is a management consultancy that specialises in services for sport, major events and precinct development.

We talked to director Tom Sloane, chief sustainability officer Ann Duffy and principal Michelle Morris.

“Our sustainability journey started within, understanding we affect change from the inside out. Green supply chain management is another cog in the wheel of developing sound sustainability practices and reducing our carbon footprint. To MI it means the ongoing process of governance and decision making to help us operate more sustainably and efficiently .”

Ann Duffy, chief sustainability officer

Ann added that working on domestic and international scale events and projects, as well as having a sustainability service offering, it felt a responsibility to “walk our talk”.

MI Global Partners sought to demonstrate its net zero commitment through Climate Active and B Corp certifications. In 2021, its first step, after board approval, was contracting Pangolin Associates to audit its carbon footprint. This explored scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

MI Global's approach to greening their supply chain

Michelle explained the review required internal resources to provide data to Pangolin. A small working group was established to pull together the information required.

The flow chart above shows the process and length of time it took to gather data through to developing a policy and communicating with suppliers.

Once Pangolin outlined MI Global’s carbon footprint, the team understood its largest emissions sources were business travel (62.7%) and information and communication technology services (13.6%). This gave the team some clear areas of focus .

The following includes some of the initiatives MI Global introduced:

  • Accommodation: employees must select hotels that are improving their impact across the environment, society, and local economy.

  • Electricity supply: the North Sydney office purchases 100% Greenpower through Red Energy. Employees are also encouraged to choose 100% Greenpower for their home electricity.

  • Information Technology: Microsoft was selected as a supplier due to its climate commitments. It has been carbon neutral since 2012 and has committed to be carbon negative by 2030. Similarly, Dropbox data centre storage was chosen as it buys 100% renewable electricity.

  • Hospitality and catering: employees are encouraged to consider food and beverage venues and suppliers that support in season, locally produced, and responsibly grown produce and seek to minimise their environmental footprint. A new policy also includes a review of fair and inclusive labour practices.

  • Travel: all employees and contractors are encouraged to use low or zero emissions transport where possible. Employees and contractors are also encouraged to optimise transport efficiency and minimise transport distances. The travel policy states employees must choose airlines with offset programs and choose green options when taking a taxi or private vehicle. For example, hybrid or electric vehicles with Green Uber.

  • Office supplies: employees are required to choose products that maximise the use of recycled content. Information about the recycled content used in products and packaging is required by Climate Active and B Corp certifications.

  • Packaging: a goal has been set to minimise primary, secondary and tertiary packaging and select from materials that can be reused, recycled, or recovered by commonly available methods. This includes avoiding the use of polystyrene because it cannot be easily reused or recycled.

  • Office: the team is working with the building manager to influence change in cleaning, catering, couriers and other common suppliers.

  • Sourcing and procurement: a procurement policy is in place to source products and services that carry a certification mark related to sustainability. For example, members of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO), the Soil Association organic certification, the Rainforest Alliance, Climate Active, B Corp or other appropriate standards, where they represent value for money and don’t compromise other sustainability objectives.


Locations: North Sydney, Abbortsford VIC, Hilton SA and Maroochydore QLD

Ecovantage helps Australian homes and businesses use energy efficiently, tap into clean energy and move towards carbon neutrality. It employs more than 70 people and is certified a carbon neutral Climate Active organisation.

Tania Oldaker

“Carbon reduction actions have been part of the business ethos since day one, 17 years ago, led by our founder and CEO. He rides to work every day, rain, hail or shine to avoid emissions from a car.  We’re in the business of energy savings. On top of helping our customers become more energy efficient, we take steps in our day-to-day practice to reduce our own impact on the environment. We believe we must lead by example.”

Ecovantage has a comprehensive sustainable purchasing process guide designed by its net zero strategy lead and senior management team.

Tania pointed out the guide can get outdated quickly as new suppliers come to market or others become a better option. The company is aiming to introduce a 6-monthly review of the guide, practices and suppliers to see what can be improved and updated.

The organisation’s emissions profile shows it has very few scope 1 emissions (see stationary energy in the chart below) and no scope 2 emissions. This is because it buys 100% GreenPower for the office and its energy efficiency measures.

Like many other office-based businesses, reducing scope 3 emissions is its biggest challenge. The manufacturing of products and transportation of materials are the categories with the largest potential for impact.

The following includes some of the actions Ecovantage introduced to reduce and offset the emissions:

  • Prioritise reusables : food, drinks and general supplies are purchased from Returnr . Everything comes in reusable tins and bottles to avoid single use plastic.

  • Invest in renewables : GreenPower is purchased for all their offices.

  • Improve packaging of products: worked with one of its largest suppliers to move away from polystyrene. Products are now delivered mostly wrapped in cardboard. 

  • Carbon offset service options : business flights are carbon offset by default and courier deliveries are offset through Sendle. Other products and services are offset where possible.

  • Office fit-outs : the carpet in the Abbotsford office was replaced with a carbon neutral solution from Nationwide Modular Carpets. The lighting was replaced with LEDs including sensors. Ceiling fans were installed to reduce the reliance on air conditioning. A composting system was introduced to divert food waste from landfill and to feed the office garden.

  • General office operations : refillable stationery with recycled content is purchased along with recycled toilet paper, tissues and paper towels from social enterprises. Cleaning products and consumables are refilled where possible and fruit and milk are purchased from the local community.

  • Vehicles : sales employees have access to a fleet of electric cars in all offices.

  • Client education: team passes on advice to clients to help them green their supply chains and office operations.

Cheat sheet

We’ve compiled a cheat sheet of factors these CitySwitch members all agreed on to green their supply chain:

  • Start by measuring your emissions. Measure your scope 3 emissions and define your largest emissions sources and critical suppliers.

  • Define targets, set expectations and find standards you want to meet. For example, Climate Active, BCorp, Green Star, NABERS, product certification requirements and ISO 14001.

  • Start small, choose one or 2 categories of suppliers, then improve overtime. Be patient, it takes time.

  • It’s a very dynamic environment. Start a process, monitor it and continually improve. Every year, there is more data, more standards, new suppliers and more technologies emerging.

  • There is a lot of opportunity for improvement by talking to suppliers, asking them the right questions and checking if they’re aligned with your targets.

  • When sustainability becomes part of your company culture and core values , it’s easier to involve internal and external stakeholders, and attract likeminded employees and suppliers.

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