Sustainable procurement duty

Sustainable public procurement aims to make the best use of public money, helping us to achieve our overarching purpose and strategic objectives.

Scotland’s strong track record  of delivering sustainable procurement outcomes for the past 20 years, is demonstrated in our Independent Review.

The sustainable procurement duty, outlined in Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, aligns with our purpose to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.

It is underpinned by the National Performance Framework and Scotland's Economic Strategy.

The sustainable procurement duty requires that before a contracting authority buys anything, it must think about how it can improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the area in which it operates, with a particular focus on reducing inequality

It also requires a contracting authority to consider how its procurement processes can facilitate the involvement of SMEs, third sector bodies and supported businesses, and how public procurement can be used to promote innovation.

The Sustainable Procurement Duty is referred to in the Public Procurement Strategy for Scotland, and sustainable procurement is central to multiple of the strategic objectives. Prominent examples include:

  • whole life costing: the promotion of life-cycle approaches to establishing value for money in procurement assessment processes
  • food security: ensuring high standards of animal welfare, sustainable production and waste reduction through procurement processes to improve community health, wellbeing and education

Compliance with the sustainable procurement duty is the mechanism through which public procurement contributes to and tracks its contribution to our overarching purpose.

Each contracting authority must set out in its procurement strategy how it intends to comply with the duty, and must report annually on progress.

Sustainable procurement support and guidance

Guidance has been published to help public bodies comply with the sustainable procurement duty and support sustainable procurement, including statutory guidance on the sustainable procurement duty (chapter 3).

Sustainable procurement tools

We have developed a range of tools to help public sector organisations identify and address how they can optimise the economic, social and environmental outcomes of their procurement activity.

Prioritisation tool

The prioritisation tool is designed to assist early stage strategic planning, and brings a standard, structured approach to the assessment of spend categories.

Sustainability test

The sustainability test is designed to help embed relevant and proportionate sustainability requirements in the development of frameworks and contracts.

It can be used in isolation or by reference to the results of prioritisation assessment, where undertaken.

Life cycle impact mapping (part of sustainability test)

Life cycle impact mapping is used to identify and assess the social and environmental impacts of raw materials, manufacturing and logistics, use and disposal or end of life management.

Every product and service has a 'life cycle' or number of stages it goes through:

  • from the extraction and sourcing of raw materials, such as mining
  • to the transportation of sub-assemblies and parts, often through a global supply chain
  • to the use of products or works and the delivery of services
  • to the re-use, recycling, remanufacture and final disposal of materials

Flexible framework assessment tool

The flexible framework assessment tool is used to assess current level of performance and the actions required to embed good procurement practice to realise intended sustainable outcomes.

Access the sustainable procurement duty tools.

A series of sustainable procurement supporting guides are also available to help public sector organisations embed sustainability into their procurement processes.


You can view sustainable procurement content prior to 2018 on the archive.

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