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Buy-in for greener buying

In March, the government decided to set a benchmark for
environmentally-friendly procurement by issuing its
Government Sustainable Procurement Action Plan
. Currently, the guidance is
aimed at government departments, but a set of measures aimed at changing public
behaviour on climate change will be unveiled later this spring.

Procurement Task Force
challenges the government to use its immense buying
power to transform government procurement. The goal is to make the UK an EU
leader in sustainable procurement by 2009 and to produce a low carbon-emitting,
more resource-efficient public sector.

The plan details eight areas of change and reporting needed to achieve this

Comprehensive spending review
• A set of public service agreements will incorporate sustainable development.

Priorities and future plans
• A sustainable policy framework to be issued to government departments, with
departments to comply towards their sustainable operation targets as well as
setting out to develop their framework throughout 2007.

Strengthening leadership
• Delivery will be overseen by the Ministerial Committee on Energy and
• The head of the civil service will oversee the plans and report progress in
• Permanent secretaries will be accountable for their department’s progress, as
well as ensuring that from 2007/08 their departments have performance objectives
and drive towards implementation of the plan.
• The head of Government Procurement Services (GPS) and the chief executive of
the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) are accountable for the procurement
practices and will be part of normal procurement policy from 2007/08.

Budgeting and accounting practice
• To improve departmental practice through better compliance with current
government policy on value for money; for example, committing departments to
review their budgeting arrangements to ensure that there are no problems in
choosing sustainable solutions.

Building capacity
• Improving public servants’ sustainable development skills.
• Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to provide support
through workshops seeking help on flexible framework.
• OGC will audit standards set through procurement capability reviews of
• Consultation with Defra on a centre for sustainability procurement, providing
support, guidance and advice.

Raising standards
• From 1 April 2015 only sustainable timber can be used.
• Departments will be asked to choose PCs and office equipment that consume less

Market engagement and capturing innovation
• The Department of Trade and Industry will look at ways that the government can
deliver better value for money through procurement. For example, the DTI and
Cabinet Office to provide support to SMEs and third sector organisations that
supply to the public sector; and Defra to work with suppliers to develop
voluntary commitments in achieving low carbon emissions in its supply chain.

Scrutiny and reporting
The Sustainable Development Commission to have a ‘watchdog’ role and will report
on progress. The SDC is to compile a review of the plan and progress by 2008.

The overall objectives of the procurement plan are:
• By 2020, the government to reduce emissions by 180,000 tonnes of C02 a year.

• By 2012 achieve a carbon neutral office by offsetting around 550,000 tonnes of
C02 per annum.
• By 2020, government to improve energy efficiency by approximately 100kWh per
square metre.
• By 2020, government to reduce its total waste, and recycle around 65,000
• By 2020, government to reduce water consumption by around 65,000 cubic metres.

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