Our sustainable procurement procedures

We consider sustainability throughout the entire procurement life cycle, meeting our legal and financial obligations, following best practice and achieving economic, environmental and social benefits.


What is sustainable procurement?

The Chartered Institute of Procurement describe sustainable procurement as a process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits to the organisation, society and the economy, whilst minimising damage to the environment.

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 creates a sustainable procurement duty on contracting authorities to consider how their procurement activity can:

  • improve the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the authority’s area
  • facilitate the involvement of small and medium enterprises, third sector bodies and supported businesses in the process
  • promote innovation and to act with a view to securing such improvements where it is proportionate and relevant.

Our approach to procurement is aimed at embedding these principles into our processes.

Sustainable procurement requires full consideration of environmental, economic and social impacts, as well as the financial and performance implications of procurement. This means considering the impacts of procurement decisions on local communities, the environment and society as a whole. We need to tackle the underlying challenges in our economy and labour market, in order to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the Scottish economy while reducing inequality.


Sustainable procurement is a process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits to the organisation, society and the economy.
The Chartered Institute of Procurement

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Economic considerations

A key driver of sustainable procurement is to increase the transparency of an organisation’s procurement activity. In order to do achieve this we will/have:

  • Published a procurement strategy that sets out how we will carry out our regulated procurement activity.
  • Produce annual procurement reports (see related documents below). 
  • Publish a forward plan of upcoming procurement projects.
  • Use the Public Contracts Scotland website to advertise regulated contracts and publish contract award notices.

We will continue to advertise contracts over the value of £50,000 via Public Contracts Scotland. This allows free and unlimited access to contract opportunities to all organisations, regardless of size. This approach helps encourage competition, maximise supplier participation, increase supplier diversity, and encourage supplier collaboration and innovation.

By using clear and precise language throughout our procurement processes, we aim to create a common understanding of our requirements and promote a straightforward and accessible procedure.

We’ll continue to engage with SMEs and ensure they have fair and equal access as suppliers by splitting future contracts into lots – where reasonable. Through our open process, we will facilitate the involvement of SMEs and third sector bodies.

When it’s appropriate, we’ll also collaborate across the public sector to achieve economies of scale.

To achieve best value for money, and comply with the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, we'll continue to award our contracts on the basis of the 'Most Economically Advantageous Tender' (MEAT), considering a balance between price and quality in all procurement decisions. Value for money does not necessarily mean choosing the least expensive option – instead, it means selecting the most economically beneficial solution while accounting for the quality and the whole life costs of the purchase, where relevant.

We will continue to identify and reserve contracts for supported businesses within our procurement process where proportionate.



Promote innovation

Innovation in public procurement gives us the opportunity to influence the market towards innovative solutions. This could be in the design or delivery of services or in the procurement of innovative goods and services. We'll continue to focus on outputs and performance-based specifications to encourage innovative solutions from our suppliers.

We’ll continue to promote the use of pre-commercial procurement and output based specifications by staff.

Environmental considerations

Environmental criteria are included in our requirements and the evaluation of tenders where relevant. As part of this strategy, we’ll continue to consider the whole life cost and environmental impact of construction projects, as appropriate. We're working on publishing a new sustainable construction policy and will publish it here as soon as it's available. 

We'll seek to reduce consumption of paper, energy, water and generation of waste where possible by recycling, and the reuse or reallocation of materials, using recycled goods and materials, and considering Fair Trade products, or similar, where possible.

Social considerations

We’ll continue to recommend that organisations we work with pay the Living Wage, adopt fair working practices and get involved in their local communities.

The Scottish Government is committed to promoting sustainable procurement and tackling inequalities in Scotland. We will continue to implement the relevant and proportionate application of fair and ethical trading principles in our regulated procurement activity.

We are subject to the public sector duty under the Equalities Act 2010 and have a statutory duty to pay due regard to elimination of discrimination and the advancement of equality. We’ll continue to treat suppliers equally and, where appropriate, require suppliers to have an Equal Opportunities Policy and demonstrate their compliance with legislation.

We’re also committed to maximising community benefits from our procurement activities. In all of our regulated procurement activity, where it’s relevant and proportionate to do so, we’ll include a request for suppliers to commit to the delivery of community benefits as part of their contracts.

Our commitment to sustainable procurement procedures means that procurement activity can be used as a mechanism to advance the sustainability agenda.

Related content

Have a look at our other procurement pages.


We publish our planned procurement activity in the HIE Procurement Forward Plan. Public sector contracts of more than £50,000 are advertised on the Public Contracts Scotland website. View our plan.

Our procurement practices

Tendering procedures depend on the value and the nature of what's being purchased, and ensuring best value for the public purse. Find out more.

Public Contracts Scotland

Public sector contracts of more than £50,000 are advertised on the Public Contracts Scotland website. Visit the website.


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