Sustainable Procurement Tools

Policy and legal context

As well as relevant national outcomes and indicators within the National Performance Framework as shown above a focus on biosecurity may form part of a public sector organisation’s sustainability strategy, environmental or biodiversity strategy. 

Biosecurity is a set of management practices that collectively are designed to reduce the potential for the introduction or spread of infectious diseases in crops and livestock, quarantined pests, invasive alien species, and living modified organisms onto and between farms and our natural environment. 

Vigilance and good biosecurity are the best form of defence against an outbreak of a notifiable disease, both in terms of prevention and, should a disease reach Scotland, in terms of quickly bringing the situation under control. 

Key practices are:

  • buying in animals
  • clean food and water
  • hygiene
  • separation and isolation
  • slurry management
  • traceability and identification

As well as the importation or spreading of diseases onto farms affecting animals it may include impacts on crops and timber or plants, invasive species as well as potential impacts on human health. This may include the traceability of foodstuffs produced within the UK or abroad. 

British standard BS8545:2014, for example, focuses on the growing of trees and states that 'biosecurity is an important consideration. To minimize the risk of pests and or diseases being imported directly into the UK, all young trees produced abroad but purchased for transplanting should spend at least one full growing season on a UK nursery and be subjected to a full pest and disease control programme'. 

A range of legislation applies, including that concerned with Traceability.  

Please also note that the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 requires the 'consideration of economic, social and environmental well-being, reducing inequality and innovation', for example through the appropriate use of the sustainability test and its associated tool; the prioritisation methodology, and the application of relevant and proportionate contract requirements.

The 2014 Act also requires obligated organisations to develop a procurement strategy and report against its delivery at the end of each year, emphasising the importance of monitoring and reporting delivery of intended sustainable outcomes.  

The public procurement regulations allow a contracting authority to exclude companies from tendering for public contracts for not meeting certain conditions that is breach of any obligations in the fields of environmental, social or labour law; and select the most suitable bidders based on technical ability and previous experience in relation to the subject matter of the contract. This is done through the Single Procurement Document (Scotland) (ESPD ) 

The public procurement regulations also allows a contracting authority to ask for what they are buying to have been given a label which certifies that it meets specific environmental, social or other characteristics. The use of labels needs to be approached with care. If a contracting authority asks for a label, it must be: 

  • linked to the subject of the contract (and all criteria must be relevant)
  • clear to judge in an open and fair way which does not discriminate
  • open to anyone who meets the standards
  • certified by a third party 

This means that a particular label should only be requested where all of its certification characteristics correspond to a procurement.

Where not all of a label’s certification characteristics apply to a procurement, it would be more appropriate to provide a full description of the requirements in the tender documentation, instead of asking for the label itself. 

Additionally, if a specific label is requested, evidence of compliance with an equivalent standard or label must also be accepted.