Social Value: how framework agreements make a difference

Education Buying’s new Schools Supplies framework agreement is here

With the promise of savings for schools on their everyday essentials, it’s important to know how your new suppliers will bring social value with every purchase. With social value being a big focus for schools and MATs in the UK, this framework offers real sustainable commitments in every aspect of the procurement process.

Education Buying’s School Supplies Framework has four fantastic suppliers within it, all offering benefits to the school and the wider community with every purchase.

Formed in 1786 as a part of His Majesty’s Stationery Office, Banner has been providing print related supplies for many years now. Innovation and social value play a big part in how they conduct business.

Banner’s relationships and buying decisions are underpinned by their commitment to responsible procurement. By ensuring a wider range of sustainable products, improved packaging and enhanced supplier compliance through audits and regular reviews, they ensure adherence to their code of conduct.

Banner has also committed to reducing their carbon footprint, particularly focusing on their supply line vehicles and reducing their emissions wherever possible, including the introduction of electric delivery vehicles.

Reducing plastic usage- specifically single use plastics – is a focus for Banner, supporting government targets to minimise them whenever possible. This is culminating in a target to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2035 and – where it cannot be avoided – significantly reducing/preventing all kinds of marine plastic pollution. Committing to also reducing the volume of single use plastic products that they sell.

Banner uses its unique Green OPTIMISA™ system to measure and report on the environmental impact of the goods and services offered to each Education Buying customer. The system measures the impact across all metrics and enables Banner to develop plans to reduce them, with the goal to achieve further savings.

If chosen to take on your contract, your school’s dedicated Key Account Manager will use Green OPTIMISA™ to propose targets for the contract and then measure their progress towards achieving them. To show their commitment, this system’s targets will be an agenda item for every review meeting. 

Banner is also finding ways to combat social issues to build more resilient communities. Some of the ways they are going about this is by:

  • Focusing on the creation of full-time roles, building a reputation as a preferred employer offering an aspirational place to work. Banner is a major employer in both areas and committed to recruiting locally wherever possible.
  • Banner has proactively encouraged its managers to take on apprentices. All apprentices are allowed to use 20% of their working week for training and education purposes, which is arranged by Banner. As at the end of September 2021, the company employed 20 apprentices and the number continues to grow.
  • Banner operates a STEPS to Work scheme, in partnership with local schools, colleges and universities. They provide work experience placements for students and where appropriate, pay them a living wage.
  • They offer classroom activities and talks to schools across the UK.
  • Whilst it is a commercial reality that Banner engages with some very large suppliers, they are committed to engaging with UK SMEs to the maximum practicable extent, to drive local investment and employment. 32% of the value of products sold in the 2020/21 financial year were sourced from 89 different UK-based SME suppliers.

Overall, Banner – like all other pre-vetted suppliers on the framework – aim to work with you to not only achieve savings, but provide a great service that will positively impact the wider community in the long-term. To find out more about Banner’s commitment to social value, click here Banner evolution – CSR and Sustainability ( With that in mind, let’s meet our next supplier…

Lyreco has always been driven by a simple philosophy; ‘Lyreco Goodness’. This stands for always doing the right thing for their customers, people, communities and planet. It underpins all social value that they offer.

Most notably, Lyreco are the first workplace solutions provider to become a member of the National Social Value Taskforce, so their social value activity is accurately tracked, measured, delivered and verified (by Social Value Portal UK).

When working with Lyreco, recycled/green products will be identified from the outset and throughout the lifetime of the framework agreement in order to drive uptake.

They will also work to reduce delivery miles through consolidated delivery options to reduce CO2 emissions. Route mapping and in-cab driver training systems have reduced fleet emissions by 58% since 2010.

A Carbon Footprint Calculator (ratified by DEFRA), will be used to measure and report on business activities. Lyreco will provide contract level carbon footprint reporting to you if they are your chosen supplier to drive reductions in CO2 and delivery miles and help you to achieve targets for carbon reduction.

Some of the social value practices that Lyreco have highlighted are:

Microbusiness Support Programme:

Currently spending £26m with SME’s/VCSE’s annually – to further this they aim to back ambitious microbusinesses that align with Lyreco’s corporate social responsibility and environmental credentials and those that provide products and services in a similar field. They can apply to be one of 10 chosen to receive a package of support valued at £20,000.

Charity Partnering Scheme:

They have a team of colleagues leading all fundraising and volunteering activity, with each of their product category departments supporting a key charity each year.

Young Enterprise Scheme:

Lyreco is a national sponsor of the Young Enterprise Scheme, working with local schools to provide mentoring to young people preparing for employment.

Feminine Hygiene:

Working with a multi-award-winning CIC – Hey Girls – who sell plastic free feminine hygiene products. By supporting Customer schemes, for every Hey Girls product purchased through Lyreco, Hey Girls donate one to a local charity.

Overall, Lyreco focus heavily on the environmental impact of every process and product they oversee, ensuring social value can be delivered at every opportunity. To find out more on the great work Lyreco do click here Working Together for Tomorrow – Lyreco UK and Ireland or once registered, talk to their team about their sustainability goals.

Office Depot has been supporting business and organisations with everything they need for 150 years. Much like our other suppliers, social value and innovative ideas are what keep them at the forefront of the industry.

Office Depot has set themselves objectives to complete over the coming years across multiple important sectors of the business and they are not resting on their laurels.

They plan to establish a Decarbonisation Strategy, focusing on high footprint, freight, energy use, transportation and waste management.

Societal issues are at the forefront of many businesses now, with the public holding them accountable. It’s their responsibility to make sure they are upholding those standards and ethics expected of them, here’s how Office Depot plan to do just that:

  • Attract, recruit, and retain the best people by ensuring recruitment processes are inclusive and reach appropriate audiences.
  • Deliver on Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (ED&I) training that ensures all Office Depot members understand the importance of ED&I. 
  • Establish a network of health initiatives and create a working environment that champions the health and wellbeing of the workforce.
  • Ensure everyone is remunerated fairly and are given adequate job security in the roles they perform for the business. 
  • Like all suppliers on our framework, they understand that they have a corporate social responsibility within the sectors they operate.
  • Establish a programme of fundraising activity that engages colleagues, customers, and suppliers. 

  • Develop a volunteering programme across all sites that engages colleagues and suppliers.

  • Sharing knowledge and expertise through various workshops in schools, for example, A Day in the Life of an Office Depot Account Manager; the Order to Delivery process; Environmental Best Practice.

  • Providing additional opportunities for individuals, or groups, facing social or economic barriers: Women in Business seminars; providing learning packs to schools. 

  • Develop a social outreach programme with local schools and organisations to support young people gain business and entrepreneurial skills.

Alongside this, Office Depot strives to support the communities in which they live and work by supporting the environment and improving the futures of young people.  Through working with charities and members of the community, support can be given to secure strong business/entrepreneurial skills for them.

In doing so they have set targets:

  • Raise £100,000 to support young people and biodiversity in their communities by the end of 2023. 
  • Deliver 1,000 volunteering hours by the end of 2022, engaging 60% of Office Depot’s colleagues and 50 customers and suppliers. 
  • Establish their social value and increase the value by 50% by the end of 2023. 
  • Donate over £300,000 worth of essential products to local schools, charities and organisations, to preserve their funding by 2025. 

Their dedication to helping you and your school community is evident. To find out more about this, click here Corporate Sustainability | Office Depot. Let’s meet our final supplier that strives to do the very same.

All Thomas Stoner Supplies (TSS) staff take personal responsibility for ensuring Green Solutions are at the core of their business activities. Their senior leadership team make sure that everyone across the business is monitoring both legal and regulatory compliance. 

This includes the constant review of environmental risks, the life cycle of services, products at management reviews, supplier meetings and internal audits so that the senior leadership team can manage the continuous improvement cycle. 

TSS ensures they are continually improving in all aspects of their business processes relating to the environment, they have implemented several environmental efficiencies in recent years. These include: 

  • Reduced packaging on their products.
  • Recyclable packaging and containers where appropriate.
  • Recycling of waste via a vetted refuse collection firm.
  • Upgrading their own logistics system to reduce carbon emissions, calculating the best routes for their drivers to ensure maximum efficiency. 
  • All staff are trained in the Thomas Stoner Green Solutions to ensure that environmental best practice and sustainability remains at the heart of everything they do.
  • Energy efficient appliances (e.g., the use of energy saving bulbs) and office hardware.
  • Duplex printing to significantly reduce paper output.
  • Efficient management systems to reduce cost of heating. 

Green solutions lie at the heart of TSS’s social value initiatives. They have recently partnered with a major recycling firm that boast a zero to landfill promise for all plastic items collected from clients. This includes any plastics that cannot be reused, they are broken down and remade into multi-use stationery items such as pens and rulers for example.

If chosen, they will replicate these practices for the duration of your contract and will continue to work with Education Buying to receive feedback from you as part of their continuous improvement service, previously mentioned.

Social development is another key area TSS focuses on, the have always recognised its locality and have aimed to utilise local businesses and people. They intend to continue developing this by:

  • Recruiting locally, whilst maintaining diversity and gender balance. 
  • Employing local businesses where possible. 
  • Offering schemes and initiatives to incentivise greener methods of commute. 
  • Targeting local organisations and pass on any cost reductions in doing so. 
  • Providing charitable donations to schools and local community operations.  

Thomas Stoner Supplies has always focused on training and developing young talent that may not have had the opportunity to work within a business, by offering apprenticeships and work placements. They also work often in school fairs raising money and donating IT equipment to schools.

To further this, they also aim to benefit the most vulnerable in the community through donating to the social enterprise, EdShift, providing learning and education resources to children and teenagers.

Overall, TSS is committed to the betterment of your school and all pupils in the present and future. To find out more about their focus on social value, click here Corporate Social Responsibility – Thomas Stoner Supplies.

We’re here to help

Each supplier on this framework is wholly dedicated to helping your school save money, while providing leading social value initiatives. They are here to help you achieve your contract targets in their own unique ways.

Any educational establishment within the UK can use the framework agreement.  It is also open to all public sector organisations.  This includes primary and secondary schools, multi-academy trusts, further education and higher education organisations.   The School Supplies Framework offers products to education establishments nationwide.  Our suppliers have delivery facilities the length and breadth of the country.

If you would like to join our School Supplies framework and open an account with any/all of these suppliers, you can do so here Education Supplies for schools – Education Buying.