Latest developments in sustainable procurement.

A selection of news stories which are having an influence on sustainable procurement in the UK , Europe and around the World.

An Ecological Emergency

A new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) presents overwhelming evidence that one million species, and growing, are now under threat of extinction. “The health of ecosystems is deteriorating more rapidly than ever before, impacting economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide”.

Read more details.

Scottish Government 2019 Procurement Report

In April Scottish Government published a Procurement Report, giving an overview of public procurement activity in Scotland. The findings are based on information collated from public bodies, including Scottish Government. The report includes how purchasing power is used to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth, benefiting businesses, employees, society, places and communities.

Read the full article here.

Scottish Government have a Scottish Procurement policy note (SPPN) downloadable from their website, detailing how a contracting authority should announce the publication of its annual procurement report, and procurement strategies. Also provided is an annual procurement report template, and instruction on how to complete this.

Managing conflicting interests

One of the fascinating parts of working in the field of sustainable procurement and supply is the variety of issues you are dealing with routinely, such as circular economy, modern slavery, climate change and ethical sourcing, among many others.

A challenge of working in this field is the priorities that stakeholders will place on particular issues. This may be as a result of political priorities, senior managers’ perceptions and what is hot in the press.

The support of senior stakeholders is of course essential in enabling procurement and supply to contribute to a more sustainable business/organisation/environment/society. However, a, sometimes single minded, focus on a specific issue can result in other, equally important, issues being diluted. Many times, the message may be ‘drop everything and focus on this one issue’. This can be a source of frustration for procurers and suppliers, often operating with limited resources, sometimes faced with a beckoning call for action from stakeholders with potentially conflicting interests.

Structured risk and opportunity assessments are essential, these involve senior managers so that scarce resources can be prioritised where necessary. At the same time changes in technology, other innovation, heightened understanding of the specific issues (such as the impact of plastics on the environment and health) and best practice should be part of routine horizon scanning.

Many organisations understand this. Many senior stakeholders however need to better understand the pivotal role of procurement and supply in enabling organisational objectives and the structured approach to risk and opportunity assessment that may have been, or needs to be, undertaken.

How does this resonate with you and your stakeholders?

NHS Supplier Workshops

Zero Waste Scotland and National Services Scotland (NHSScotland) hosted two workshops in Edinburgh for NHSScotland suppliers of Furniture, IT, Walking Aids, Small Medical Devices and Single Use Devices to discuss rethinking the way products are used, managed and repaired throughout their use. Focusing on opportunities for circular outcomes and innovation.

Read more details.

SSN Regional Partnerships for the Future – Accelerating Climate Action

SPL Director Barbara Morton joined almost 100 SSN members and associates at the ECCI, Edinburgh to engage in discussions on partnerships and collaborative working as effective tools to scale up action, trigger significant investment and stimulate low carbon growth across Scotland.

Barbara was particularly pleased to see Professor Andy Gouldson present, and to be able to catch up with him after so many years.

Other key highlights from the event included:

  • Transformation through collaboration is key, to overcome multifaceted, complex, cross cutting challenges, and applying multidimensional solutions through cross exchange and shared learning.
  • Partnerships can build capitals and capacities (social, financial, political, intellectual), can resolve policy tensions and can also bring complexity - they require attention and leadership.
  • Alignment – sharing capacity and resources, can bring greater buy-in and mainstreaming, to scale up action at pace and deliver significant emission savings.
  • Greater accountability, monitoring and feedback should give us an evidence base which enables better, fairer decisions and impact.

As a result of discussions on the day, SSN have set up thematic Action Groups to drive further strategic exchange and learning among members. The Action Groups will be member derived and member driven, solutions oriented, with clear objectives, limited to a six-month lifespan and review, and guided by the SSN Secretariat. To become involved in the Action Groups, contact Catherine Pearce.

Presentations from the day are available here.

Zero Waste Scotland Circular Economy Support Programme

Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) has reported on the challenges and benefits of building a circular economy, to businesses, communities and to the climate. The report reviews real life cases of barriers to and enablers of progress, as experienced through the ZWS circular economy support programme, and provides valuable insight to inform future programme planning.

ZWS’s procurement work to date has focused on upskilling public and private sector procurement professionals, by raising awareness of sustainable alternatives and enabling measures to embed these into procurement practice.

SPL has worked alongside ZWS to support the development of procurement frameworks and contracts and provide support streams referenced in the report, such as:

  • Training: A focus on training procurement professionals from 2014 to 2016 led to more than 700 individuals being trained based on the international Marrakech approach to sustainable procurement, and almost 400 people completing an e-learning module co-delivered with the Scottish Government’s Procurement Team.
  • Guidance: Development of sector- and product-specific procurement best practice guidance to encourage the procurement of various products on a leased, re-used or remanufactured basis.
  • Mentoring: One-to-one mentoring from 2014 to 2016 aided the development of Scottish Government procurement tools - life cycle impact mapping, prioritisation, sustainability and flexible framework assessment; this continued into 2017/18.
The full report can be viewed here.

Itaipu stars at EcoProcura 2018

A group of three colleagues from Itaipu Binacional, the Paraguay/Brazil hydropower generating company attended EcoProcura in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 03 to 05 October 2018. The Itaipu Hydroelectric power plant is the world’s largest in terms of power generation and the organisation has set itself ambitious goals on sustainable development, in line with its mission to “Generate quality electricity with social and environmental responsibility, driving sustainable economic, tourism and technological development in Brazil and Paraguay.”

The Itaipu team’s aim was to share information on the organisation’s sustainable procurement activities with attendees from Europe and beyond, as well as exchanging experiences on effective approaches to sustainable procurement.

Procurement lead, Luis Morinigo Veiluva made a presentation entitled “Itaipu: generating energy and development” and led discussions at the Market Lounge session on 04 October. He was supported by the Coordinators of the Sustainable Procurement Programme which has been running since 2012 – Gonzalo Martin Zavala Ruiz from Paraguay and Adriano Hamerschmidt from Brazil (and by Barbara Morton of SPL). The focus of the session was on how Sustainable Procurement and Supplier Development Programmes are promoting sustainable development and regional integration in Paraguay and Brazil. Luis described Itaipu’s progress on sustainable procurement, including the development of sustainability criteria in 53 products and services and how the organisation has embedded sustainability considerations throughout its procurement processes.

With support from Sustainable Procurement Ltd, Itaipu is now developing Sustainable Procurement Indicators to help measure, monitor and report on its progress towards being leaders in the field. The organisation has set itself ambitious targets to meet by 2020 and will continue to report progress both to its own board and through external reporting routes such as the Global Reporting Initiative.

Social Enterprise World Forum

12-14 September 2018

The Forum was a truly international event with representatives from around the World. It brought together social enterprises, Government, investors, service providers, support agencies, community, and supply chain partners.

Mixing talks, workshops, events and tours the forum provided opportunities for enterprises and partners to learn of good practice and lessons for social development. SPL’s Barbara Morton attended the event:

‘It was an excellent Forum to meet social enterprises and rekindle discussions with international support and social enterprise organisations; discussions regarding the importance of social value in economies and supply chains were particularly valuable’.


Palm Oil in the supply chain

Since 2002, approximately 100,000 Bornean orangutans have been lost due to deforestation in order to grow and harvest palm oil, destined for household and other products including foods, shampoos and cosmetics.

Palm oil can be found in half of all packaged products in supermarkets as well as those in catering supplies. The EU directive on food labelling enforces the clear identification of palm oil in food yet there is no requirement for labelling in soap, shampoo and other cosmetics.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is also struggling to ensure registered companies trade only in oil that has not come from deforestation. This makes managing the use of palm oil in the supply chain extremely difficult. Enforcing palm-oil free products should be the top priority. Only where absolute assurance regarding the sustainable sourcing of palm oil is possible should it be considered.


Do you know the destination of your e-waste?

A two-year study by the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Africa (BCCC Africa) and United Nations University (UNU) into the final destination of e-waste has determined that at least 15,400 metric tonnes of non-functioning used electronic and electrical equipment (UEEE) was shipped to Nigeria between 2015 and 2016. This is a direct violation of international law (the Basel Convention) which prohibits exporting of UEEE.

Approximately three-quarters of the UEEE originated from European ports, however the UK was responsible for approximately 20% by weight. The majority had been hidden in vehicles that avoid inspections and functionality tests. None of whom incurred any punishment over the two-year period. The study concludes that regulations in Nigeria and the EU must be strengthened.

The study findings reinforce the importance of tracability in any supply chain, and duty of care responsibilities when disposing of any WEEE or passing on UEEE. Ensure your suppliers can provide evidence of secure, safe and legal disposal routes.

Find out

Labour exploitation and slavery found within UK economy

A recent investigation by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) inspected hundreds of UK workplaces, determining the extent of slavery and exploitation in the UK workforce. An assessment of sectors identified common exploitative practices:

  • Recruitment from overseas agencies charging workers to find employment
  • Victim identification and profiling
  • Illegal workers
  • Terms of employment - including zero hours contracts and excessive working hours
  • Wages - cash in hand and non-receipt of payslips
  • Health and safety - insufficient training, charges for PPE
  • Intimidation and coercion

The largest industries guilty of labour exploitation are reported to include agriculture, construction, hand car washes, nail bars, and manual labour such as food service, catering and hotels.

Demonstrating due dilligence by managing supply chains to ensure your organisation is not party to this type of labour exploitation will minimise any risk to your reputation.

Read the full

Plastic Purchasing Power

The endless volume of plastic waste is a hot topic, and for good reason. Green Public Procurement (GPP) has an opportunity to reduce plastics procured and improve the recyclability of plastics. This has been highlighted in the EC’s Plastics Strategy, 2018, which recommends public authorities using buying power to prevent waste plastics and support plastic recycling.

Find out more...

The horizon is closer than you think

All those who work in sustainable procurement and supply will understand the need to anticipate what the next risk or opportunity will be that must be managed. Economics and politics are dynamic and the nature of risks in supply chains has changed and will change in an increasingly global and digital economy. ‘Horizon scanning’ is an essential skill.

In the past decade we have seen concerns in the EU regarding animal food traceability and safety and a focus on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking while China’s decision to no longer be the ‘go to’ destination for waste plastics has thrown into sharp focus the failings in how plastics use is addressed by consumers, businesses and within supply chains.

Unfortunately, skills in horizon scanning are not always adopted by policy makers. The UK faces a significant problem for some time to come with waste plastics piling up. As we also indicated in our last post of 2017 Sir David Attenborough has, in his eloquent, inimitable and authoritative manner, highlighted the problem with plastics pollution which we have known about for some time, but which ‘Blue Planet II’ and the resulting publicity has strongly brought into focus.

This of course reinforces the need for the transition to a Circular Economy to be speeded up and for a renewed focus on the waste hierarchy. All of the plastic waste generated arises within a business and supply chain somewhere, so the answer lies, at least in part, with procurers and suppliers.

It is inevitable that procurers will focus on specific risks according to shareholder, investor, consumer and other stakeholder pressures. Plastics is becoming a priority for many. At this time, these pressures are likely to be more prescient than those of slow moving regulators or policy makers.

Look for risks and opportunities within supply chains so that plastics can be minimised, reused or biodegradable. SPL has extensive experience of working with procurers and suppliers in waste prevention.

2018 - A Happy New Year to all of our readers. May your resolutions be attainable and sustainable.

Barbara Morton, Philip Duddell and the SPL Team

A look back on 2017 and forward to 2018

2017 has been an interesting year in the field of sustainable procurement and supply. Notwithstanding uncertainties regarding public procurement arising from the UK Brexit decision we have seen an increasing focus in specific areas:

  • Circular Economy and Procurement – the range of examples of Circular Procurement has expanded and more public and private procurers are considering how to support the transition to a Circular Economy. Much more is possible, and SPL has worked with procurers to develop practical guidance on Re-use, Repair and Remanufacturing across key categories of procurement.
  • Innovation – not always easy to define, the focus on innovative solutions is increasing. Enlightened procurers are working with the market to identify solutions to procurement requirements that challenge the norm and provide opportunities for more sustainable solutions. This does not just mean new technology but new services and alternative procurement routes. Examples include those from the health sector and also those that SPL has supported such as the objective of ‘Maintenance Free Bridges’.
  • Plastics in the supply chain – Sir David Attenborough has, in his eloquent, inimitable and authoritative manner, highlighted the problem with plastics which we have known about for some time, but which ‘Blue Planet II’ and the resulting publicity has strongly brought into focus. Procurers must proactively work with their supply chain to minimise plastic use and waste. Significant opportunities exist for those who address this early.

SPL has been busy in 2017 working in Scotland, England, Paraguay, Brazil, Africa, Australia, Kyrgyzstan and Estonia with Governments, public agencies and bodies, a central bank and small and private and third sector organisations.

In 2018 SPL will be making available a series of webinars focusing on specific issues within sustainable procurement and supply.

In the meantime, we wish all our clients, partners, contacts and other friends very best wishes for 2018.

Barbara Morton, Philip Duddell and the SPL Team

ISO20400 - the first global Standard for Sustainable Procurement

The International Standards Organisation has launched the first global standard for sustainable procurement, ISO 20400, which aims to establish guidelines for organisations to make supply chains more sustainable. This has been under development for a number of years, with its focus on economic, environmental and social sustainability and its application to the procurement mechanism.

The standard is a guidance standard; while organisations such as Sustainable Procurement Limited may be able to provide verification that an organisation is operating to the principles of ISO20400, as with the long-standing British Standard BS8903 it is not a certificated standard. The focus is on embedding good (sustainable) procurement practice including supply chain management.

For more information on the standard and its relevance to you contact Barbara Morton or Philip Duddell.

Trust in Supply Chain

Much is written regarding the need for trust in buyer/supplier relationships, but perceived and actual barriers exist which many struggle to address.
The public sector may feel bound by the perceived need to be 'distant' from suppliers to ensure non-discrimination. However, positive market engagement in prioritised categories can send a strong message, while contract review provides opportunities for continual improvement and positive relationships. Too little historic focus on dialogue once the contract is awarded means trust may not be established and opportunities for innovation and benefits for buyers and suppliers will missed.

Procurex 2017

Procurex 2017

We were very busy at Procurex Scotland 2017 catching up with many clients, colleagues and suppliers. In our 5th year of attending this conference we have seen significant progress in embedding sustainability into procurement. There is of course much more still to do to ensure this is consistent business as usual, particularly with emphasis on tacking human trafficking and modern slavery, the transition to a circular economy and the embedding of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

SPL Expert Adviser at ITAIPU Binacional Conference


On 12th September 2017 in Asuncion, Paraguay, SPL Director Barbara Morton made a presentation on "Incorporation of Sustainability into the Legal Framework of Public Procurement" at a conference hosted by the National Public Procurement Directorate (DNCP) of Paraguay and organised jointly with ITAIPU Binacional.

The objective of the event was to convey the importance of sustainability, both in the legal framework and in the conduct of public procurement. ITAIPU Binacional is "the world’s largest generator of renewable clean energy" and has a vision of being a leader in sustainability by 2020. It's Sustainable Procurement Program has been in place for several years and Barbara’s week-long visit in September was part of SPL’s latest phase of activity with ITAIPU Binacional.

ITAIPU Binacional's Chief Financial Officer, Miguel Gómez, also highlighted the progress made in sustainable public procurement, where 50 categories of goods now have sustainable criteria embedded.

See,, and for further detail.

Modern Slavery in the supply chain?

A BBC report highlighting the extent of Modern Slavery in the UK reinforces the importance of tackling this within supply chains with key sectors identified as food processing, fishing, agriculture, construction, domestic and care workers and car washes.

Legislation is in place to require larger organisations to have in place a statement on Modern Slavery and The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act focuses on specific offences. In practice this may often be addressed through a focus on Fair and Ethical Trade and Fair Work Practices within procurement and supply – it is important to understand that this can be as relevant in ‘local’ supply as it is in ‘global’ supply and procuring organisations have a key role in managing this significant risk. See here for full BBC article.

Sustainable Scotland Network Conference 2017


SSN held its latest conference on 5th October 2017 in Edinburgh, in the context of significant climate change action:

  • a proposed new Climate Change Bill setting more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
  • publication of Scotland's third Climate Change Plan, including emission pathways to 2032, expected 2018 following Parliamentary scrutiny earlier this year.
  • the draft Energy Strategy which presents a vision for Scotland's energy future until 2050.
SPL Director Philip Duddell had the floor for a discussion on chains and links in sustainable supply. The workshop slides are now available for download from Keep Scotland Beautiful.

See here for full details of the conference.

A zero-waste, zero-carbon London? The new Environmental Strategy

The latest environment strategy by the Mayor of London, outlines how Greater London could achieve zero-carbon and zero-waste by 2050. It also states London will be physically greener and aims to achieve the best air quality of any major world city.

The document was published for consultation on 11th August until 17th November. View the full strategy and provide comment here.

Public Procurement of Innovation in Waste Management ppi4waste

The PPI4Waste project started 3 years ago with the aim to:

  • Create a critical mass of procurers purchasing eco-innovative waste solutions
  • Create new markets in the area of resource efficiency in the short and medium term
  • Leverage additional investment in research and innovation
  • Make a demonstrable contribution to public sector innovation and increased mobilisation of SMEs and industrial partners
  • Move from product purchase to service delivery

The project will shortly announce the results and recommendations with a workshop on Thursday 7th September 2017 in Zaragoza (Spain).

OECD Forum on Procurement for Innovation OECD

5th October 2016, OECD headquarters, Paris.

Barbara Morton attended the OECD Forum in October 2016, Paris. Amongst policymakers, public procurement leaders and stakeholders, the Forum debated the role of Public Procurement in stimulating Innovation through research and development and increasing economic productivity.

Also discussed were the results of the OECD EU survey on the main challenges countries face and good practice for transforming procurement into a strategic function for advancing innovation.

For Sustainable Procurement Ltd, one of the most significant aspects of the discussion was highlighted by Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD in his opening address and concerns the need for procurers to have the right skills to evaluate and manage risks.

Further detail on the Forum on Procurement for Innovation plus further links to related documents can be found here.

Third Sub-Region Caribbean Public Procurement Conference Inter-American Network on Government Procurement

Back in June 2016, SPL Director Barbara Morton travelled to Barbados to present at the Third Sub-Region Caribbean Public Procurement Conference. Organised by the Inter-American Network on Government Procurement, the 3 day event hosted many influential speakers and attendees. Barbara discussed strategies and opportunities for developing States embedding sustainable procurement as well as presenting on the status and future of Public Procurement in the UK.

Other discussion points at this event included:

  • Transition from the Financial Rules to the Public Procurement Act in Barbados
  • Promoting Competition and Deterring Corruption
  • Public Procurement links to other strategic public sector functions
  • Towards a Regional Public Procurement Marketplace in the Caribbean
  • Effects of Gender Inclusive Policies in Public Procurement
  • Private sector and public procurement
  • Trade and public procurement

Green Growth Through Public Procurement Conference

The Forum for Sustainable Procurement, with Nordic Council of Ministers, organised the conference Green Growth through Public Procurement, held in Copenhagen, December 2016.

120 Nordic participants, discussed their own experiences of green procurement and tactics to achieve a circular economy given the significant political support for circular economy and circular procurement. Good practice has previously been demonstrated by many Nordic countries and cities such as Sweden and Copenhagen. For example, Copenhagen recently won the Procura+ Award in the category of "Sustainable procurement of the year" for its efforts to supply municipal organisations, such as schools, day-care centres and elderly homes, with organic and sustainable fruit and vegetables.

Isa-Maria Bergman from the Finnish state company Motiva, which was co-organizer of the conference emphasized the importance of politicians and leaders setting clear targets for GPP and ensuring that these are followed up.

Read full article here. Further reading from Sustainable Procurement News.

Scotland Wins Circular Economy Award at Davos

At the World’s first Circular Economy Awards, The Circulars, presented at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, 16th January 2017, the Scottish Government achieved the Award for Circular Economy Governments, Cities and Regions. The award recognises partnership working between the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland, SEPA and Scottish Enterprise to further the circular economy. The Scottish Government has placed the circular economy at the core of Scotland’s Economic Strategy and Manufacturing Action Plan, and its ‘Making Things Last’ strategy highlights priority areas with the greatest opportunity to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits.

The other five finalists included organisations from China, Canada, South Africa and Europe.

Zero Waste Scotland Chief Executive Iain Gulland said: “This award is testament to the hard work that’s going on in Scotland to make the most of the valuable resources we have and make them work for our future. It’s a clear endorsement for Scotland as a leader on the circular economy and signifies that our commitment to making things last is valued by the global community”.

See more at: Zero Waste Scotland and The Circulars.

Circular Economy in practice

Circular economy implementation relies to a large extent on procurement and supply embracing the significant opportunities available. While this can sometimes appear a challenge – for example due to awareness and understanding and historic procurement options and processes – practical implementation is being helped in a number of ways.

For example, SPL have been supporting Zero Waste Scotland develop a guide on procurement clauses that address Re-use, Repair and Remanufacturing opportunities within 13 priority categories, have updated a Construction Procurement guide, including circular economy outcomes, and are providing mentoring support to public bodies on applying circular economy outcomes through specific contracts and frameworks.

This is part of ‘mainstreaming’ circular economy within procurement through guidance, capability building and evidence of practical outcomes.

For more information contact SPL.


Procurex Scotland on the 9th November at the SECC, Glasgow was well attended with some exceptional talks and breakout sessions including by Derek MacKay, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Construction, Teresa Medhurst, Director of Strategy & Innovation, Scottish Prison Service and Eveline Venanzoni, Former Chair, UN’s Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement.

Congratulations to all the finalists of the GO Awards Scotland 2016/17 including the winner of the GO Sustainable Procurement Award, City of Edinburgh Council for its application of community benefits contract requirements.

Waste Prevention in the NHS

In 2014/15 WRAP undertook a number of Waste Prevention reviews at NHS Acute Trusts in England aimed at delivering resource efficiency and cost savings. As a result of this work, 6 case studies have been developed which can now be downloaded here (scroll down to ‘Related Documents’).

The reviews worked with the Trusts to identify opportunities for prevention of waste across prioritised categories, where relevant; Pharmaceuticals, Electrical & Electronic Equipment, Textiles, Furniture, Consumables, Food and associated Packaging. As well as identifying opportunities for reduction of physical waste the reviews also considered time efficiencies, inventory management, quality control and associated costs.

The reviews highlighted opportunities for waste prevention and cost savings as well as a range of good practice which may be replicable in Acute, as well as other, Trusts.

Reduce Consumption and Procure Sustainably

The International Resource Panel (part of UNEP) recently reported that primary resource extraction has tripled over the last 40 years, from 22 billion tonnes to over 70 billion tonnes. This is having extreme impacts on human health, quality of life and increasing conflict, as well as causing a critical shortage of materials.

The increase in material extraction is primarily due to the change in culture to inefficient material economies. Circular economies, resource efficiency and procuring with sustainability at the heart of any purchase paves the way out of this extraction reliant crisis.

(Modified from IEMA News).

Supply chain risks hit peak

The CIPS Risk Index, which has measured supply chain risk since 1995, has hit a peak of 79.8%. Due in part to increased risks in Europe and low commodity prices affecting suppliers, resilience in supply chains is an increasingly important consideration for procurers, faced with global and regional uncertainty.

This index does not yet reflect the result of the EU Referendum in the UK – a result which has increased short term uncertainty and potential risk.

It is therefore increasingly important that procurers identify high risk supply chains and focus on requirements that demonstrates that resilient practices are being operated.

While there is existing or emerging legislation that affects some of the underlying issues (e.g. Conflict Minerals, Slavery and Trafficking, Greenhouse Gas Emissions) procurers should not wait for legislation to emerge. Otherwise, risks may escalate.

Prioritising efforts to manage risk requires systems and tools that consider the nature, scale and reach of risks and practical measures to mitigate these. While this may appear daunting with, in some cases, potentially hundreds or thousands of suppliers in a supply chain, procurers should start with top priorities and develop from there. Call us to discuss the approach used for a range of clients.

Brexit and UK Public Procurement

Inevitably, it is too early to say how Brexit will impact on UK Public Procurement.

It’s not our job to crystal ball gaze, but we might be forgiven for considering some alternatives:

  • If the UK negotiates continuing access to the ‘single market’ it might be assumed that EU procurement rules would continue to apply.
  • If the UK does not retain access to the single market then the UK Government will need to decide whether to remain subject to the ‘Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA)’, a World Trade Organisation agreement which seeks to ensure open, fair and transparent conditions of competition in government procurement markets (
  • If it does not remain subject to GPA this could possibly prejudice UK business access to the procurement markets of GPA members, including the EU and other major trading partners. If it does remain subject, then GPA compliance requirements broadly match EU Procurement Directives.
These are of course not necessarily the only options that may apply and it would be wrong to assume that no changes will be necessary – SPL does not take responsibility for what the UK Government decides to do!

In the meantime the UK public sector must continue to operate to EU rules and wait for the politicians to make the final decision.

Buying Green! Handbook revised


Following the implementation of the 2014 EU procurement Directives a third edition of the Buying Green! Handbook, the European Commission’s publication for assisting public sector organisations to apply environmental improvement to the procurement of goods and services.

General guidance is provided on how to embed environmental considerations in a relevant and proportionate manner at each stage of the procurement cycle. There is also guidance on the procurement of buildings, food and catering services, road transport vehicles and energy-using products.

As well as public procurers the Handbook is designed to assist public policy makers and also private or third sector organisations responding to tenders or seeking to embed sustainable procurement in their supply chain.

Read the new handbook here.

Sustainable Procurement - The 'Sleeping Beauty' of Circular Economy

Seven good fairies, one evil fairy, a spindle and a very long sleep – perhaps not characteristics you may have associated with sustainable procurement? However, this description has in the past been used by the European Commission to describe the role of extending producer responsibility and procurement has in enabling a circular economy.

There is no doubt that alternative business models, re-use, repair and remanufacturing, while common in some sectors and procurement categories, are opportunities not fully exploited or even considered in many others.

In some cases, barriers exist that prevent early consideration of procurement alternatives, in others there is uncertainty how to apply circular economy outcomes in procurements.

If you procure commodities including ICT, textiles, furniture, construction, medical devices, vehicles, waste services, facilities management and many others you should be considering the potential for procurement alternatives while embedding re-use repair and remanufacturing where practical. An increasing number of examples exist to provide evidence of good practice.

While we often sleep we wouldn’t claim to be the Sleeping Beauty of Fairy Tales but can help identify opportunities for economic, environmental and social outcomes from a focus on procurement and circular economy.

NHS - Medical Devices and Sustainable Procurement

The Sustainable Development Unit and the Coalition for Sustainable Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices have launched a project seeking to identify sustainable procurement practices for Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals.

While this project is focused on Greenhouse Gas emissions, lessons from the US and parts of Europe for the application of Circular Economy outcomes in the procurement of medical devices have not been fully capitalised in the UK, in large part due to actual and perceived barriers including regulatory interpretation. Despite this, significant opportunities exist including procurement alternative models, re-use, repair and remanufacturing of devices, while improved use and management of medical devices represents a major opportunity for financial and waste prevention.

Read the full story here.

Making Things Last – Scotland’s first circular economy strategy

This Strategy outlines Scotland’s plans to work to a circular economy model – keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible to benefit the environment, the economy and Scottish communities.

Four areas are prioritised within the Strategy:

  • Food and drink, and the broader bio-economy
  • Remanufacture
  • Construction and the built environment
  • Energy infrastructure.
Further targets, with action plans for businesses and households, are introduced to:
  • cut food waste;
  • design products with ease of disassembly, repair and recyclability;
  • increase companies leasing, servicing, repairing and re-selling goods.
Among other aims, the Scottish Government want second hand goods to become a mainstream, option - helping reuse-businesses and community organisations to thrive. The Strategy references plans to improve the capture and regulation of items for reuse and build on the Revolve standard for reuse organisations to improve consumer confidence.

Read the Full Strategy – Making Things Last here.

Modern Slavery Act - the responsibilities of ethical procurement

In a bid to reduce the overwhelming worldwide victims of forced labour and human trafficking, The Modern Slavery Act (2015) aims to enforce the transparency of supply chains and requires commercial organisations with a turnover of at least £36million to produce an annual slavery and human trafficking statement.

The Act does not include a single definition of either ‘slavery’ or ‘human trafficking’, or a prescribed specification for what the statement should contain, just a constraint that it is signed off by those responsible for the business. Non-compliance with the Act does not result in significant sanction, with the impact on reputation the primary result.

Slavery and human trafficking should be risks that procurers address in a relevant and proportionate manner as part of a focus on fair and ethical trade. All supply chains, be they straight forward or complex, should be open to scrutiny by both the final customer and the procuring organisation, if different. Start by identifying the potential risks within supply chains and prioritising action on categories/commodities according to these.

Steps to a Circular Economy

In a move towards creating a circular economy within the EU, the EC has revealed changes to legislation to achieve new improved targets in waste reduction, recycling rates and reduction of waste to landfill.

The plans include revisions to the following Directives: End of Life Vehicles, Batteries and Accumulators, WEEE, Waste, Packaging and Packaging Waste, Landfill of Waste and the Eco Design Directive.

By 2030 it is the hope that the EU will be recycling at least 65% of all municipal waste produced.

Our predictions for procurement and supply in 2016...

  • Procurement will increasingly realise social value, through public/private/social partnerships, community engagement, employment, skills and training and there will be an increasing number of good practice examples;
  • Procurement will be increasingly seen as a strategic enabler of organisational priority objectives;
  • Innovative outcomes will become more embedded within intended outcomes of procurement activity;
  • Effective management of ‘problematic’ procurement risks will be increasingly embedded – such as Fairly and Ethically Traded, Conflict Minerals, Security of Supply and others;
  • Monitoring and reporting of sustainable outcomes will become more robust and accountable.
Do you agree? Let us know what you think...


Following the update to ISO 14001:2015, published 15 September 2015, organisations currently using ISO 14001:2004 have a three-year transition period to switch to ISO 14001:2015.

Within operational planning and control requirements under the new standard (Section 8) there is a need to:

  • identify requirements for procurement activities;
  • consider design activities, and information on product / service delivery, use and end-of-life treatment, taking into account a life cycle perspective.
Organisations with ISO14001:2004 should therefore consider the assessment of relevant risks and opportunities within procurement of goods and services, identifying their nature and extent and where they apply within supply chains. To discuss how SPL’s risk assessment methodology can help contact us.

Scotland Statutory Guidance - Fair Work

As one of the suite of Statutory Guidance developed to support the implementation of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 guidance has recently been published by the Scottish Government.

Entitled ‘Selection of Tenderers and Award of Contracts, Addressing Fair Work Practices, including the Living Wage, in Procurement’ the guidance will be followed by further statutory guidance that assists the public sector in Scotland meet the Act’s requirements.

See here for further information.

UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The UN general assembly has publicised the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda details targets to promote sustainability in both private and public procurement, including topics such as poverty, inequality and climate change.

The Agenda’s broad spectrum includes targets to reduce bribery, corruption, theft and tax evasion, targets to end slavery, child labour and human trafficking. The aim is to encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices and integrate sustainability into regular reporting requirements.

The UN also wants to halve per capita global food waste by 2030.

There is a target to increase access for SMEs to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets.

See here for further information.

WEEE – too much poor management

Research undertaken by the CWIT consortium found that in Europe, only 35% (3.3 million tons) of all the e-waste discarded in 2012, ended up in the officially reported amounts of collection and recycling systems. The other 65% (6.15 million tons) was exported (1.5 million tons), recycled under non-compliant conditions in Europe (3.15 million tons), scavenged for valuable parts (750,000 tons) or simply thrown in waste bins (750,000 tons).

Mismanagement of discarded electronics within Europe involves a volume 10 times that of e-waste shipped to foreign shores in undocumented exports.

As well as more coherent multi-stakeholder co-operation public and private sector procurers have an important role in ensuring that contractors deal with WEEE in a compliant and good practice manner. The problems arising from poor management include environmental impacts as well as potentially serious adverse social impacts.

See here for further information.

New Biodiversity Standard

A new British Standard has been developed to assist businesses manage Biodiversity loss and protection.

‘BS 8583:2015 Biodiversity — Guidance for businesses on managing the risks and opportunities’, explains what biodiversity is and why it is relevant to businesses and other organisations, describes how to assess your biodiversity impact, explores ways to manage biodiversity, for example through supply-chain and land management and gives advice on planning for biodiversity protection and enhancement.

See here for further information.

Mentoring support for procurers

SPL is currently working with a range of Scotland's public sector organisations to provide sustainable procurement support on specific contracts and frameworks.

These include a focus on ICT, Marketing & Promotion, Energy Efficiency, Cleaning, Hard FM and offer opportunities to embed environmental improvement, including circular economy outcomes, together with community benefits and other social value, where relevant.

Meet the Buyer Conference
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 11th June 2015

SPL’s Barbara Morton presented ‘Embedding Sustainability in the Supply Chain’ at a Meet the Buyer event in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, as part of the Ready for Business Developing Markets Programme. Barbara focused on how to concentrate on maximum benefits from procurement and supply in a prioritised manner.

To view Barbara's presentation click here.

Spending Socially Conference
National University of Ireland, 15th June 2015

The Spending Socially conference highlighted Ireland’s focus on delivering social value through public procurement. Barbara Morton provided insight into Scotland’s stance on such issues through its long-standing focus on community benefits and the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

To view a copy of the presentations click here (free Dropbox logon required).

Circular Economy - EU Consultation Opens:

While the relatively new concept of a Circular Economy may sometimes be compared to a long standing focus on reuse, remanufacturing etc., the move from a ‘make, use, dispose’ culture requires a range of policy instruments to come into play, as well as action by procurers and suppliers.

The policy options may include product design, re-use, repair, remanufacturing and reconditioning of products as well as ‘recycling, sustainable consumption, waste policy, recycling levels, smart use of raw materials, stronger markets for secondary raw materials and specific sectorial measures’ (EU).

It is widely accepted that moving towards a more circular economy can ‘promote innovation by stimulating new business models and technologies as well as facilitating social innovation’, and so, in our view, contributing to a ‘circular social economy’.

The EU public consultation runs until 20 August 2015. Click here to view the public consultation.

EU Energy efficiency target – energy efficient procurement:


While some pressure groups called the recent decision by the European Commission for member states to boost their energy efficiency by 30% by 2030 ‘bafflingly low’ there is no doubt that this followed an intense round of, sometimes heated, negotiations. It reinforces the need for ‘energy efficient procurement and supply’.

Termed ‘ambitious but realistic’ by commissioners, as well as carbon reduction, cost savings and encouraging further investment in energy saving technology, this may, to a limited extent, improve Europe’s energy security. It won’t be known until October whether this will be legally binding.

This reinforces the need for "Energy efficient procurement"; the integration of energy efficiency improvement considerations into investments, maintenance and other expenditure on energy-using equipment, such as heating systems, vehicles, ICT, other electrical equipment, electricity and gas and energy using in-house or outsourced services (e.g. FM).

This means a renewed focus on life-cycle costing, minimum energy-efficiency standards, energy efficient procurement criteria and improved use of relevant equipment procured.


Growing a circular economy:


The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report ‘Growing a circular economy: Ending the throwaway society’ (July 2014) makes a number of recommendations. This includes reduced VAT on recycled products and strengthened focus on recycling and reuse within Government Buying Standards.

‘The Government should introduce differential VAT rates based on life-cycle analysis of the environmental impact or recycled content of products, and tax allowances for businesses that repair goods or promote re-use. It should set up a cross-Government working group, led by the Cabinet Office to decide how best to implement such reforms.’ 


‘The Government should extend buying standards to include a greater emphasis on the recyclability of materials and recycled or re-used content’.


While we can all consume less, procurers and suppliers have enormous opportunities to move towards new business models – buying functionality rather than a product for example. There are an increasing number of examples of organisations adopting new approaches but procurers need to clearly articulate this as an objective and suppliers need to embrace the opportunities available.

The report can be downloaded from:

Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014:


What does this mean for public sector procurers?

The Sustainable Procurement Duty enshrines the requirement for contracting authorities who are obligated by the Act to (paraphrased from the Act):


‘Before carrying out a regulated procurement, consider how in conducting the procurement process it can:

a. improve the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of the authority's area,

b. facilitate the involvement of small and medium enterprises, third sector bodies and supported businesses in the process, and

c. promote innovation, and

in carrying out the procurement, to act with a view to securing such improvements identified.'


The Act also requires obligated authorities to develop an annual Corporate Procurement Strategy setting out what it intends to do to deliver sustainable outcomes and to report annually on its delivery against those aims.

When are authorities obligated?

Obligated authorities are anticipated to be bound by the requirements with effect from the end of 2015. This transition period allows an opportunity for public sector organisations to be prepared for compliance. Statutory Guidance is being developed by the Scottish Government on the

duties under the Act in the meantime – given the recent update to the EU Procurement Directives the Government is ensuring that the Act's implementation and EU changes are complementary.

Timetable of the Act and EU Directives:
The Act:

Preparing for the Act

As well as the Statutory Guidance being developed by the Scottish Government, Tools to support the implementation of the Act's requirements are now being tested. These comprise a revised Flexible Framework, tailored for all parts of the Scottish Public Sector, a revised Prioritisation Methodology and Sustainability Test.

SPL is currently working with a range of public and private sector organisations to test these Tools and obtain feedback to ensure they are fit for purpose. For more information contact Barbara Morton or Philip Duddell.

Indian Railways tackles the challenges of sustainable procurement.

India_flag Indian Railways transports 2.65 million tonnes of freight traffic and
23 million passengers every day, it is the third largest railway network in the world and has committed to integrating environmental and social factors into procurement decision making.

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UK government is Mitigating Climate Change with Chile


The Chilean Government implemented a project on public procurement in 2013 through the FCO Prosperity Fund. Work involved in this project included Sustainable Procurement Limited working with the Chile Government (Department of Environment) and Chile Compra to include sustainable criteria in the Chile government´s public procurement in order to reduce climate change impacts and integrate social issues.

Further information on how the UK government is Mitigating Climate Change with Chile.

UN expert urges governments to buy local food


Since 2005 UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter has urged Governments to use their purchasing power to make a more sustainable food market. "Governments have few sources of leverage over increasingly globalized food systems – but public procurement is one of them. When sourcing food for schools, hospitals and public administrations, Governments have a rare opportunity to support more nutritious diets and more sustainable food systems in one fell swoop," said the independent expert, as he published his report on public procurement and the right to food.

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New GPP criteria for the Health Care Sector

The Commission has published new EU GPP criteria for Electrical and Electronic Equipment used in the Health Care Sector,

  • focus of the new criteria is on energy efficiency .
  • considerable financial cost savings can also be made

Read more about the new GPP criteria for the Health Care Sector.