The NBG Sustainability and Cost Reduction Project

National Buying Group’s (NBG) Sustainability and Cost project was first launched in January 2020 just before the pandemic hit. In February 2022, it was relaunched with a focus on implementing greener practices across the group’s network of Partners and Suppliers. NBG’s status as a democratic body means all members of this working group, as well as the Partner network as a whole, can benefit from the wealth of expertise needed to achieve this goal.

NBG’s structure has been crucial to the project, bridging the gap between manufacturers and merchants, and allowing a free flow of innovative ideas, values and key concerns from regular meetings and ongoing discussions. With that in mind, three sub-teams – consisting of Suppliers and Partners – have been set up under the project to help deliver environmental standards and sustainable solutions while achieving cost reductions.

These groups are looking at three separate areas in which pronounced savings can be made for the project:

  • Packaging Reduction
  • Pallet Recycling
  • Electronic Data Interchnages (Edi) for automated ordering

Plastic Packaging

NBG’s Plastic Packaging group has already moved quickly into action in response to the Plastic Packaging Tax’s introduction in April 2022, which affects manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled content. With the impact of this, and the anticipated Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) on the building product sector expected to be severe, NBG is working hard with Suppliers to reduce plastic content in packaging, receive accurate data about material usage and implement group-wide best practice.

As part of the wider project, the group will soon be launching a new PIM template so Partners and Suppliers can see how much plastic is used in their daily operations, and at what cost, so they can better understand its impact on the environment and financial bottom lines.


NBG’s pallet group has made great strides in understanding, reviewing and encouraging more sustainable pallet use for Partners and Suppliers. Alongside streamlining existing operations, a key, ongoing focus for this aspect of the project is the potential adoption of renewable pallets within the group. Doing so would further reduce material wastage and the ensuing cost of replacing pallets upon use.

EDI Ordering

Finally, the EDI group is progressing well in further cutting the use of paper across the group for processes and documentation, in favour of electronic interfaces. The efficiencies gained by adopting digital technologies will reduce key entry, input errors and speed up business communications, eliminating a potential commercial disadvantage.

As part of this project, NBG are constantly open to feedback from new and existing Partners and Suppliers. We appreciate any input as we look to take further steps to adopt sustainable practices.

The NBG Sustainability Project has been nominated for best Environmental Initiative at the upcoming Builders Merchant Journal Awards. To vote for the project, click here.