Smart Freight Procurement Guidelines and Questionnaire

Improved procurement processes to drive climate action


Decarbonizing freight transport is critical to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. Freight and logistics is inherently a commercial sector with buyers (‘shippers’) and suppliers (‘carriers’) of freight transport services. Multinational shippers can send a strong market signal by demanding low carbon freight through their supplier contracts. Suppliers that offer low carbon freight gain a competitive edge.

However, many shippers are unsure of how to assess logistics services providers (LSPs) and carriers as part of the procurement process. At the same time, LSPs and carriers are asked by an increasing number of shippers to complete questionnaires that are very different, are an administrative burden, and are seldom followed up.

This project is looking to develop standardized guidelines and questionnaires, as well as exchange experiences between companies on logistics procurement. The aim is to make sure that procurement processes become more meaningful and lead to increased collaboration between buyers and suppliers on emissions reporting and reduction. We are successful if companies make low carbon procurement a key strategy in their sustainable logistics roadmaps.

What will this project deliver?

  • Smart Freight Procurement Guidelines (released in September 2019) explain how climate action can be integrated into the logistics procurement process. The guidelines contain practical actions, building on company experiences and best practice to highlight how these can contribute to GHG emission reductions.
  • Smart Freight Procurement Questionnaire and instruction manual (released in May 2020) is a set of standard questions and KPIs that are designed to be meaningful to the buyer, while being clear and practical for the supplier. The questionnaire supports the planning (RFI), tendering (RFQ), contracting and contract management processes and covers the guiding principles from the guidelines: Transparency, Collaboration, and Leadership and innovation.
  • Testing with companies, including the more than ten companies that helped developed the guidelines and questionnaire. Their experiences will be used to improve the guidelines and questionnaire, as well as develop concrete case studies to encourage other companies to integrate climate action into their procurement too.
  • Advocacy with initiatives and associations to promote the guidelines and questionnaire to their members. This will ensure that harmonized procurement practices reach beyond the individual companies that either contributed to the guidelines and questionnaire or were among the first to start using it.
  • This project complements the Clean Cargo Supplier Sustainability Survey currently being developed by both BSR and members of Clean Cargo.
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Why should you join this project?

We are looking for companies, associations and initiatives willing to test the questionnaire and who can help advocate for sector-wide uptake of the guidelines and questionnaire. You should join this project if you want to

  • Make the logistics procurement process, and in particular the RFI and RFQ questionnaire, simpler and more meaningful and reduce the administrative burden
  • Make better use of procurement processes to drive climate action in collaboration with your suppliers and relevant initiatives and associations
  • Share experiences and best practices with other companies to improve your own procurement processes and help others
  • Influence future updates of the Smart Freight Procurement Questionnaire
  • Send a strong and unified market signal for low carbon freight transport

Project timeframe:

  • May 2020 – Publication of Smart Freight Procurement Questionnaire and accompanying manual
  • May-Dec 2020 – Testing with companies
  • Dec 2020 or Jan 2021 – Analysis of feedback and timeframe for updating the questionnaire
  • Ongoing – Advocacy with initiatives and associations

How can you get involved?

For more information contact: Folkert Bloembergen, Deputy Executive Director, folkert.bloembergen@smartfreightcentre.org, or Eszter Toth-Weedon, eszter.toth-weedon@smartfreightcentre.org
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