Thousands of employees, millions of customers, billions in turnover. The size of VodafoneZiggo has an impact. With the People Planet Progress plan, it wants to halve its impact on the environment and help two million people get ahead in society by 2025. An important key to achieving that is purchasing. Head of Purchasing Niek Hoogerheide explains why.

When merging Vodafone and Ziggo in 2017, we opted for a head office directly opposite the Utrecht Central Station. And all employees received an NS-Business Card for public transport”, begins Niek. “The result: a lot less CO2 emissions, safer transport and, because you are able to work in the train, better use of the travel time too. Yes, that had – and still has – an impact. Because we are so big, every choice makes a difference. That is why we look carefully at the effects of each purchase. Our Purchasing department ensures that VodafoneZiggo does shopping consciously.”

Everything is about purchasing
From the energy that keeps our network running, to the colourful interiors in the buildings and the packaging of Mediaboxes – if you look carefully, Purchasing is involved in pretty much everything. “However, our Purchasing department is not omnipotent. We supervise and advise the business with purchasing processes and choices to be made. If they want to reduce the energy consumption of our data centre, than we ensure that’s possible together.” Sustainability is an increasingly important part of this advisory role. We create awareness in the entire organisation. In addition to quality, price and delivery time, sustainability is a permanent fixture within our purchasing policy. Sounds logical, but nobody finds it easy to pass by a solution that, on the face of it, is the cheapest one. Therefore, you have to keep devoting attention to this.

Encouraging partners
“The power of large numbers also ensures that we can make a difference to our suppliers and the supply chains of which they form a part”, says Niek. “Because our purchasing volumes are high, we have some say in the matter. By setting specific requirements in terms of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, we provide them with guidance. It is a question of encouragement; these partners are specialists in their own field of work. They will then find the best solutions themselves. To ensure this process runs even more smoothly and to speed it up, we currently work with Ecovadis. More about that later.”


Green achievements
What is VodafoneZiggo doing in terms of sustainability? Niek names a few achievements. “VodafoneZiggo runs on 100% green power. And in spite of the steady growth, the power consumption from the data traffic has fallen by about two percent each year. Office employees take the train and technicians drive with electric vehicles more and more often, or jump on the bike. VodafoneZiggo makes use of so-called Green Bonds; loans with sustainability goals that have an accelerating effect. It also reinvests 20% of the turnover back into the company and its network, once again as sustainable as possible. And VodafoneZiggo is a member of the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC): a collective of telecommunications providers that together ensure that safe and fair working conditions, and responsible, social and sustainable management are high on the agenda at suppliers.

Independent eye on purchasing
And there’s still the above-mentioned Ecovadis. An important partner that helps to purchase as sustainably as possible. Niek explains why. “Suppose we want to purchase a component for our network and find a supplier from Asia. At first glance, it has its affairs in order when it comes to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. However, a lot of investigative work is needed to know that for sure. This is often a hopeless task for VodafoneZiggo. Ecovadis is an independent organisation that monitors suppliers in terms of environmental, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable purchasing. Thanks to their in-depth and up-to-date information, we can make better and more informed choices. This helps us to further encourage improvement among suppliers. Suppliers also benefit from this working method. The stimulus helps them move forward and they can also use the assessment of Ecovadis for other customers.”

Money for a good cause
All the money involved in Purchasing is spent wisely. That is a challenge in itself, which Niek and his colleagues are more than happy to take on. “It gives us a kick to see what kind of difference our choices can make. The collaboration with Ecovadis adds a lot to that. It enables us to make more judicious choices and to impose demands on suppliers. This leads to new insights and solutions, and also possibly to the departure of suppliers that are unable or unwilling to contribute sufficiently. In this way, every euro that VodafoneZiggo contributes to improvements and a more sustainable world.”

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