Insights from the Quest Pte Ltd ESG Procurement Conference 2023, Sydney | Day 1

Day 1 – Highlights

I’ve been at the Quest Pte Ltd ESG Procurement Conference in Sydney today, where industry experts have been sharing their insights on sustainability in the Australian context. So far, the event has provided valuable takeaways and highlighted innovative strategies that organizations can adopt to drive sustainable practices.

In this post, I will share the key insights gained from the first day of the event, along with examples from organisations such as Origin Energy, Fairsupply, CBRE, Mars, Boral, Global Fashion Group, Social Traders and others who have been showcasing their approach to ESG in procurement. Usually, we’d do this at the end of an event, but there was so much covered today from so many excellent speakers that we’ve decided to split it into two.

  • Marea Getsios – Manager Procurement and Contracts at Inner West Council talked about enhancing ESG in procurement through improved procurement agility. She defined agility as doesn’t mean responding & reacting but need awareness & process and also made the point that governance is more critical when working within the public sector. She also talked about the importance of senior leadership education and training in the ESG journey.


  • Belinda Lyone, Co-CEO at COS. The purpose of COS is to help other businesses succeed by keeping Australian workers healthy, safe, and productive. Belinda outlined COS’s objective to move to 100% renewable energy. They started 10yrs ago and will have zero emissions by 2023 in operations. They have achieved that with 2800 solar panels across 4 locations reducing staff travel through hybrid working, reducing waste and cutting business travel. They are currently trialing electric vehicles and have given themselves 10 years to reach 100% EVs across the organization.


  • Jaana Quintance-James, Chief Sustainability Officer at Global Fashion Group emphasized the importance of using technology to achieve ESG and Sustainability instead of manual tracking of data. The right reporting helps an organization to measure its progress but it’s important to recognize that reporting is only the outcome of the current behavior and not what an organization wants to achieve.


  • Jake Bristow from Achilles Information discussed the company’s initiatives in aiding businesses to make an ethical transition to net zero emissions. He talked about what the UN is calling “Just Transition” that requires business to address the wider UN Sustainability Goals, that look beyond emissions reductions, to include human rights, modern slavery, child labour and health and safety and the international legislation coming into force to ensure that focus. He also provided examples of Modern Slavery uncovered by Achilles as part of the international supplier audit progress in including one example found in Singapore.


  • Kimberly Randle, Founder and CEO at FairSupply Pty Limited – made the point that everyone that purchases anything in an organization has a shared responsibility for the prevention of modern slavery and how purchasing professionals are making an impact on vulnerable people and planet. She also made the case for the importance of supply chain transparency saying you can’t fix what you can’t see.


  • Tom Lynch, Senior Consultant, ProcurementCo picked up and emphasized the transparency point further in his presentation saying that without data you are just a person with an opinion. Data is critical to making good decision. He advised that a good starting point for organizations was to understand what falls in Scope 3 as it has been loosely defined.


  • Robin Burton, Director, Global Sustainable Procurement at CBRE emphasised the importance of scope 3 saying that without them you aren’t addressing climate change. He highlighted how suppliers often do not know where to start, 90% are either beginners or not started on their carbon emissions journey. He estimated only 2% of suppliers were at a mature stage. He advocated supplier education to support the drive to net zero.


  • Raza Hamid, Head of Procurement at Boral Ltd. highlighted the critical role of the circular economy. Boral have built a circular economy strategy by reviewing renewable resources and set a target on water usage, electricity and replacement with renewable energy. They have created a business model around suppliers who support circularity including waste collection and management to recycle. Where cradle to cradle is not possible they are identifying how waste can become resource for some other product / industry. As a result of their efforts, an impressive 5% to 6% products come from recycling, 99% is repurposed and only 1% goes to waste.


  • David Helmy, Head of Sales at Origin Energy, talked about how EV can deliver both scope 1 reduction and financial saving. Most countries adapting to implementation of EV. Norway has 80% EV. Australia EV reached 8.3% with 5% increase in EV in last one year. He highlighted how EV enables data reporting which enables informed decision making. He used Volvo as an example shows EV full lifecycle emission will be 27 against 58 tons emissions clearing fuel lifecycle.


  • Anubhav Madan, Head of Procurement, Local Government Procurement talked about his experiences of delivering the business case for sustainability and creating a sustainable future through collaboration with suppliers. He emphasized the importance of determining your strategic focus, picking the things that matter most and aligning with corporate strategy and getting the right sponsorship across the organisation. He also stressed the value of partner and wider stakeholder engagement – establishing clear responsibilities, developing co-solutions and remembering to share and celebrate successes.


  • When the event opened out into a panel discussion Ryan Thomas, from iPRO talked about the importance of long-term collaboration with suppliers. Sandy Gain, Climate and Sustainable Sourcing Lead (ANZ), at Mars agreed saying that it was important to make suppliers feel included. Chris Mansfield, APAC Subcontract Category Lead at Honeywell made the point that ESG shouldn’t just be about data presentation and numbers as part of sustainability report as it can soon become greenwashing, businesses should focus on making real difference and go beyond data collection and reporting. Ryan Thomas talked further about the importance of starting by benchmarking your performance and create actions to improve that and in collaboration with suppliers. Generally, the panel agreed that help was needed for smaller suppliers and that standardisation of data collection would help by avoiding the need to repeat the same process for every tender/requirement.


  • Madeleine Tailor, Executive Branch Manager, Procurement Goods and Services, Procurement ACT is building a sustainable procurement ecosystem to harness the power of collaboration. She shared her tips for supplier collaboration including identifying suppliers that offer unique opportunity to create joint value.


  • Last but not least, Monique Ward, Executive Director; Innovation and Services at Social Traders talked about the importance of asking the right questions within a tender around social value to initiative behavior in suppliers to do something about it and, kindly, name checked Achilles for our work in supporting sustainable procurement.

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