Public Procurement and Property

Talking responsible procurement with Zero Waste Scotland

October 4, 2021 by No Comments | Category Best practice, circular economy, climate change, Guest Blog, net zero, Procurement news, Scottish Procurement, Sustainability, Sustainable Procurement Tools

As we mark the final countdown to COP26, Scottish Procurement are delighted to welcome a guest blog from Zero Waste Scotland to discuss the advantages of a “circular procurement” model and actions the public procurement community can take to support Scotland’s Net Zero ambitions.

Responsible procurement to help save the planet

In a global procurement landscape where key stakeholders are more interested than ever before in sustainability, and supply chain issues are more acute than in any time in recent history, can a more responsible attitude to material consumption offer us some assistance in these challenging times?

In June, Zero Waste Scotland published its landmark Scottish Material Flow Accounts model which calculates the scale and nature of Scotland’s consumption for the first time. The analysis showed that in Scotland our material footprint weighs in at more than twice the sustainable level. More recently, a new consumer campaign #ConsumingResponsibly was launched in September to encourage wider awareness of the carbon impacts of what we buy and consume and how this directly impacts climate change.

The key messages of this work relating to the environmental impacts of consumption are also highly relevant to procurement activity as our organisations plot their path to net zero carbon via responsible procurement practices.

Our procurement activity has an impact in the form of greenhouse gases that are released into the environment during the manufacture, use, or disposal of items. This is sometimes easier to see and consider for goods than services but there are things we can think about that can have a beneficial impact in all areas of our procurement activity.

Here are three simple steps that we can take to help move our activity in the right direction towards a more “circular procurement” model and can really make a difference.

  1. Upgrade or repair the things we are buying to extend their life

The availability of spare parts and parts for upgrade is a massively important consideration for the purchase of goods. Some items could see significant life cycle increases by a small number of spare parts being made available. This also increases the likelihood of items still having a re-sale value once they are no longer needed by an organisation meaning they could be sold or passed on to others for future use.

  1. Do more to ensure we are fully utilising our assets

Technology-based solutions that allow us to track and plan utilisation of assets such as vehicles, tools, and equipment are widely available to suit differing needs. These solutions can be used to allow assets to be used as effectively as possible and could prevent additional purchases for items that are not needed. Asset utilisation technology can also plan servicing and maintenance that may also extend the life of these valuable assets to our businesses.

  1. Reduce our emissions from energy and commuting

There are many new products on the market that can reduce our energy consumption in our workplaces. Low energy lighting, water saving devices, alternative heat sources, and many others are all able to play a part in reducing our energy use in our organisations.

While some service contracts need to take place on the premises of the contracting organisation, there are many “desk based” services where it is probably no longer considered essential that these are carried out at the premises of the contracting organisation. Recent global events have forced us all into different ways of delivering services and many of these changes have reduced the commuting miles generated by our contracting activities.  There is a great opportunity to continue with this new delivery model in the future.

As procurement professionals we can really play our part to help deliver change in this area and finding solutions is what we all do every day. By working collaboratively and sharing best practice, we can help each other in taking these steps towards more circular ways of working.

To read more about embedding changes to procurement, please refer to the Zero Waste Scotland Circular Economy Accelerator site.

Thank you very much to Zero Waste Scotland for helping us kick start our final countdown to COP26 with this really insightful blog highlighting the simple actions we can all take to ‘save the planet’ through responsible, circular procurement.

Public bodies in Scotland can also develop their own understanding with the Introduction to Sustainable Public Procurement, and Climate Literacy e-learning available free of charge from the  Sustainable Procurement Tools platform. Sign up at Sustainable Procurement (

To find out more about #ScotClimateWeek and Scotland’s Net Zero ambitions, please visit Home | Net Zero Nation

Public procurement in Scotland is:

  • Good for Business and Employees
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For further information on public procurement in Scotland please visit

For further information on Scotland’s Public Procurement Priorities please click here.

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