Sustainable Procurement Tools


A contracting authority has discretion to determine what award criteria to apply but waste requirements must be proportionate and relevant and there must be a clear methodology to evaluate responses. Criteria should allow objective comparison of tenders, be published in advance in procurement documents, and not discriminate / favour potential contractors. The following questions may be helpful: 


‘Please describe your proposed approach to environmental sustainability as part of this contract, including details of any specific steps taken in the design and manufacture of services to minimise waste and applying the waste hierarchy.'


'Please describe your suggested methodology, including timeline, milestones, outcomes and responsibilities for developing an appropriate service Resource Management Plan which aims to:

  1. Help us achieve our target for reducing life cycle costs, energy and waste resulting from [insert service] services; and
  2.  Providing data / information to support claims that whole life cost and resource savings have been made


Our sustainability targets include a commitment to reduce life cycle costs of the service [by x%] over the lifetime of the contract, while delivering effective capability. Life cycle costs to include equipment, associated consumables, servicing and maintenance, upgrading, licensing and energy, carbon, WEEE and other waste costs and all other relevant costs during the lifetime of the contract.'


'Please provide details of any end to end innovative packaging solutions which could be made available at no additional cost to [the Customer]; include details of your plans and proposed initiatives to reduce and eliminate packaging and waste under this contract.'


'Please provide details of the services which could be made available under this contract in the end of life management of devices, promoting their re-use, re-condition, re-manufacture and recycling as well as compliance with security and WEEE requirements.'


‘Supplier(s) will be expected to offer solutions throughout the life of the contract to extend the useful life of the but not necessarily restricted to, repair, recycling and re-use, including through sub-contracting arrangements and innovative solutions.


'Where practical, supplier(s) should demonstrate how recycled content is included within garments supplied.'

‘The Supplier(s) must be able to offer a recycling service for end of life garments at no cost to the customer. Waste Transfer notes, stating the tonnage of material collected and how it was disposed of, must be provided to the customer when garments are recycled under this contract.’


‘When used garments are received by the Supplier(s) then the items should be checked to see if they can be re-used by the customer. This may mean that garments will need to be cleaned or refurbished with logos or sub brands, and repackaged / labelled and warranties adjusted for future distribution. Re-use must take priority to recycling wherever possible under this contract.’


‘Please describe your approach to environmental sustainability, including details of any specific steps taken in the design and manufacture of services to apply the waste hierarchy while ensuring legal compliance, including through relevant re-use, repair and remanufacturing.' 


‘Please describe how you manage your environmental impacts detailing any environmental good practice systems, including ISO 14001, or EMAS, or equivalent which form part of your business practice.'


N.B. An environmental management system is likely to only be relevant in the procurement of some services. Its requirement should be proportionate according to the market and the scope of services required, and you must be prepared to accept an equivalent to a system accredited to ISO14001 or EMAS.  Rather than asking for a specific standard, buyers must identify the elements of these standards and decide what is relevant to their organisation and the particular procurement. It is then essential that suppliers are notified of which elements they will be evaluated on.  This will provide good evidence of their professional and technical ability – particularly where ‘sustainability’ is a desired outcome. For example:


‘Please provide a copy of your Environmental Policy and highlight how it contributes to delivery of circular economy outcomes in the delivery products and / or services which are the subject of this tender.’


‘A requirement of this contract is that a min of 25% of the product or the components thereof shall be re-used at end of life. The supplier is required to demonstrate the extent to which there is an established operational process to achieve this and additional points will be allocated for performance in excess of 25%.’


Finally, it is important to bear in mind that particularly in service contracts, social considerations may well be applicable for waste management including re-use, repair and remanufacturing in terms of the third sector, social enterprises, skills, and training together with options to reserve contracts for supported businesses where appropriate. This may be as part of the sourcing requirement or at the end of life stage for reuse, remanufacture or recycling. Any required benefits must be tangible and measurable.

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