How ESG is shaping procurement of PPE and workwear

ESG policies are now front and centre for many businesses

The dial is shifting on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations. ESG has long been an important factor in shaping the procurement practices of larger businesses, but it’s now a clear priority – driven by the need for substantive proof of progress and results.

Corporate decision-making is increasingly being influenced by the need to meet and surpass ESG requirements. And a key component of that is choosing the right partners to work with. Customers expect robust sustainability commitments from suppliers but are now rightly demanding transparency and accountability when it comes to their ESG performance and promises.

Rigour behind the rhetoric

As the drive to create a truly circular economy in the UK accelerates, businesses can no longer solely stand behind vague ESG statements and ambitions. Equally ESG standards are quickly evolving too, bringing unprecedented levels of scrutiny to ESG credentials.

In the UK, the government is set to announce a regulatory regime for the ESG ratings industry – whilst this is focused on the investment market, it’s likely to have a trickle-down effect in terms of the range and quality of reporting that will be expected across the business landscape.

Responsible supply chains

The supply chain, therefore, is a crucial element in ESG reporting – and is directly influencing PPE and workwear purchasing decisions.

In terms of carbon emissions, there are three different types, or scopes, that a company is responsible for: either directly through its own operations or indirectly – like the emissions of its suppliers, for example. This data is driving how businesses analyse and reduce their footprint across the supply chain.

Suppliers that can demonstrate innovative ways to cut emissions are at an advantage. At the Contego site, we’ve installed a state-of-the-art Solar Photovoltaic Panel system to help power our facility. And we host 28 Tesla Megapack batteries that store renewable energy for the UK National Grid.

Procurement priorities

ESG criteria extend well beyond greenhouse gases and there are several other considerations that will influence procurement. PPE and workwear can be manufactured using a variety of materials and techniques, clearly those that utilise environmentally friendly and sustainable sources and methods will be favoured. The recyclability, durability and longevity of products – as well as the working conditions for those who make them – are also important.

As a result, the range of sustainable workwear continues to grow as many of the top brands in PPE and workwear clothing respond to customer demand.

Much of the focus of ESG considerations is, unsurprisingly, aimed toward environmental impacts. But the positive social impacts of business are also under increased scrutiny. Businesses are now expected to contribute more than just employment to their immediate community – with a positive social impact (such as supporting local initiatives or charities) an important consideration in buying decisions. Demonstrable evidence of social purpose is also an important internal dynamic, with socially-motivated businesses likely to better attract and retain a motivated workforce too.

Setting the standard

At Contego, our market-leading PPE and safety workwear solutions keep staff protected in their jobs and ultimately ensure they get home safely, every day. But we have a responsibility to protect our world too. That’s why we’re ISO 14001 accredited – an environmental management standard that ensures we follow best practice. You can read about our other certifications – including our commitments to quality management and health and safety – here.

Our Environmental Policy outlines our responsibilities towards waste management, consumption of natural resources and preservation of the natural environment. And there’s more detail about our dedication to innovation and sustainability across our entire operations – from packaging and products to deliveries – here.

Because we choose our supply partners based on their alignment with our own ESG values, we know what you’ll require from us. Our friendly team are always on hand to provide you with further guidance and advice. You can contact them on 0800 122 3323 or

Published on 12 December 2023


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