Strategising for Net Zero carbon


Strategising for Net Zero: Integrating Carbon Descent into Category Management

By Mark Hubbard |

The Crucial Role of Category Management in Achieving Net Zero Carbon Goals by 2030


Incorporating a Net Zero Carbon (NZC) strategy into category management is vital for businesses aiming to meet their 2030 environmental goals. This blog explores how organisations can effectively integrate NZC into their category strategies, ensuring a timely and impactful approach towards a sustainable future.

Understanding the Timeframe for NZC Strategy Implementation

The Myth of Instantaneous Transformation

Contrary to popular belief, achieving NZC status by 2030 requires early and strategic planning, rather than an instantaneous shift. Understanding this misconception is key to developing effective NZC strategies.

The Timeline for Implementing NZC Strategies

Businesses should begin their NZC planning by early 2028 to ensure full implementation by 2030. This section breaks down the timeline required for strategy development, contract negotiations, and implementation. Read this Corporate report created by the Environment Agency: reaching net zero by 2030; it’s a good road map for cutting carbon emissions and reaching net zero by 2030 and an easy-to-follow tailored action plan starting now.

Developing a Carbon Descent Plan

net zero carbon

The Importance of Incremental Progress

Rather than a steep transition, a gradual carbon descent plan is more feasible and sustainable. Here, we outline the steps for initiating incremental changes towards the NZC goal.

Incorporating Carbon Descent into Current Strategies

Examine how existing contracts and category management activities in 2024 can influence the 2030 outcomes, emphasising the importance of early action.

Beyond Go-to-Market Activities: A Holistic Approach

Integrating Internal Systems and Processes

NZC goals aren’t just about external contracts. This section discusses the need for internal system developments, process changes, and role adaptations to support NZC initiatives.

Rethinking Category Strategies for NZC

Analysing current strategies’ shortcomings in addressing NZC goals and the necessity for early incorporation of carbon descent plans.

Actionable Tips for Implementing NZC in Category Management

1. Conduct a Comprehensive Review:

  • Examine existing category strategies to identify areas where they align or conflict with NZC objectives.
  • Identify Improvement Areas: Pinpoint specific categories or aspects of your business that need more focus to meet NZC goals.
  • Benchmarking: Compare your current strategies with industry best practices or standards in sustainability to gauge your progress towards NZC.

2. Develop a Detailed Carbon Descent Plan for Each Category

  • Set Specific Goals and Milestones: For each category, outline clear, measurable objectives and timelines for reducing carbon emissions.
  • Integrate Innovative Solutions: Explore and implement sustainable practices, such as renewable energy sources, eco-friendly materials, and waste reduction techniques.
  • Regular Monitoring and Adjustment: Establish a process for regularly reviewing and adjusting the plan to ensure continuous improvement and alignment with evolving NZC standards.

3. Initiate Early Changes and Integrate Them into Existing Contracts

  • Early Implementation of Eco-friendly Practices: Start incorporating sustainable practices in your operations as soon as possible.
  • Revise Current Contracts: Revisit and renegotiate existing contracts to include clauses and criteria that support NZC goals.
  • Educate Suppliers and Partners: Work with your suppliers and partners to ensure they understand and can meet your NZC requirements.

4. Collaborate with Stakeholders for a Unified Approach Towards NZC Goals

  • Engage Internal Teams: Ensure all departments and teams within your organisation understand the NZC goals and their role in achieving them.
  • Partner with External Stakeholders: Work with suppliers, customers, and industry peers to foster a collaborative approach towards sustainability.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Maintain transparent and regular communication with all stakeholders to keep them informed about your NZC initiatives and progress.


Although 2030 may seem distant, immediate action is crucial for achieving NZC targets. Now is the time to re-evaluate and adapt our category strategies to pave the way for a sustainable and carbon-neutral future. For more insights on incorporating NZC strategies into your business model, visit Future Purchasing.

Further reading

Blog post: Driving Incremental Sustainability Through Effective Category Management

About Mark Hubbard


30+ years experience in procurement and supplier management, in line and consulting roles
Previous employment: Positive Purchasing Ltd, SITA,
QP Group, BMW, SWWS, Rover
Education: BSc in Engineering Metallurgy, MBA University of Plymouth
CIPS: Current Member