What Does Net Zero Mean for Tendering?

By Shreya Hegde|Jul 12, 2021

From 30th September 2021, bidders for certain UK public contracts will be required to submit a Carbon Reduction Plan as part of the selection process assessing the professional and technical ability of a supplier. This is as a result of legislation passed in July 2019 to ensure that the UK reaches net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – releasing equal or less greenhouse gas into the environment than it removes.

It applies to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies, when spending over £5 million per annum.

What is Changing?

Practically, it means that these competitions will include as a selection criteria the requirement for a Carbon Reduction Plan – confirming the supplier’s commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. This plan must set out environmental management measures that they have in place and that will be applied during the performance of any contracts. Contracting authorities will expect to verify that the supplier is committed to achieving Net Zero prior to entering into and during any contract awarded under a framework agreement.

What is a Carbon Reduction Plan?

A Carbon Reduction Plan details a supplier’s carbon footprint and confirms their commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. They include reporting requirements, are updated regularly and are publicly available. They demonstrate a clear commitment to emissions reduction at the highest level and are ideally incorporated into the overall business strategic plan. The key components of the plan are:

  • Commitment to achieving Net Zero
  • Baseline Emissions Footprint
  • Current Emissions Reporting
  • Emissions Reduction Targets
  • Carbon Reduction Projects

What Can Businesses Do Now to Get Ready?

Some 8% of UK businesses claim to be Net Zero ready, but the vast majority are not and have rudimentary plans at best to become so. The suppliers to the government that can tailor their approach, and develop a robust Net Zero Strategy early, will have a significant competitive advantage over those that wait.

1. Act Locally

Net Zero is driven by central government legislation, but will be applied at local level in councils, semi-state organisations and other community recipients of public funds. These organisations often have resource challenges and will welcome suppliers taking the lead when it comes to Net Zero.

Critically, align your capture and your proposal strategy to the efforts of local buyers and ensure that your action plan extends into the community so that your proposal is both a win for the buyer and for the environment.

2. Competitive Positioning

Businesses in some sectors, such as construction, city planning, transport or renewables are well advanced on their Net Zero strategies. Research their initiatives, understand how they are being impactful, learn from their missteps and seek to emulate and improve their successes.

Identify the buyers who have already been active in publishing their own Net Zero strategies or who have made it part of their purchasing. See whom they have been awarding contracts to and why.

Seek out initiatives that you can join that will give you support and strategies to accelerate your efforts and gain demonstrable evidence of your commitment to your strategy.

3. Develop Your Carbon Reduction Plan… Now

Public buyers are influenced by issues in the wider economy, whether that be climate change, social inclusion or diversity. The difference with Net Zero is that it is going to be mandatory across an increasing number of public contracts. There really is no time to lose and the advantages of being a first mover mean reduced competition and opportunities to innovate and disrupt your business sector.

Tender Templates at Your Fingertips

Orbidal has designed a Bid Hub, a personalised library of high-scoring proposals and templates to give you back time and insights into what makes a winning proposal. A top-quality bid writer can deliver 4 pages of new copy per day. Using a Bid Library of high-scoring content allows you to deliver 20 pages of repurposed copy per day – a saving of up to 40% on the time to compile a tender submission. Orbidal Bid Hub has sample carbon reduction plans ready to go. To view the Net Zero templates, please click here.


Shreya Hegde

Account Executive

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What Can Businesses Do Now to Get Ready?

  • Act Locally
  • Competitive Positioning
  • Develop Your Carbon Reduction Plan… Now

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