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Sustainable procurement

Every year, NS purchases goods and services with a value totalling more than a billion euros. In 2020, we had ties with approximately 3,500 suppliers in 24 countries. Of our total purchasing volume, we obtain 80% from 114 suppliers; the largest share of that volume (96%) originates from the Netherlands and other countries in Western Europe. These goods and services include staff, financial and facility services, IT, construction, communication, energy, trains and transport.

Through a targeted supplier policy, NS uses its position as a purchaser to encourage suppliers to make their products and services more sustainable. In this way, we make our suppliers contribute to our sustainability objectives. We have included our CSR requirements in the procurement governance rules and embedded them in our General Terms and Conditions of Purchase ( and in our Sustainable Third-Party Policy. In addition, we work closely with our suppliers and challenge them and other market players to submit innovative and sustainable offers.
We use the following initiatives to steer procurement:

Sustainable Third-Party Policy 

Through our Sustainable Third-Party Policy, we encourage our suppliers to make their products and services more sustainable, inviting them to explore the following four themes with us:

  • climate-neutral and efficient energy consumption

  • sustainable mobility

  • circular use of materials

  • corporate social responsibility

Embedding sustainability in procurement through tendering plans

One permanent consideration in our European tendering procedures is to include suitable sustainable selection and award criteria based on the above themes.

Supplier assessments and Code of Conduct

We subject our major suppliers to a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) assessment. This involves an assessment of the supplier in terms of its environmental impact, labour and human rights record, integrity and sustainable procurement. We have imposed the CSR assessment as a requirement since 2015 on all parties that have won an NS contract. Since then, we have steadily increased the minimum standards that we require these suppliers to meet. Through our Code of Conduct, moreover, we expressly communicate to our suppliers the CSR standards and values that we apply to doing business with them. NS has engaged an independent party to check whether suppliers are complying with the principles of the NS Suppliers Code of Conduct. If the Code is not observed or if there are infringements, we first assess the risk. Then we start discussions with the supplier concerned and ask for an improvement plan. In cases of serious violations, such as corruption, we will terminate the relationship.

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