Publication - Advice and guidance

Biodiversity: sustainable procurement guidance

Guidance for public bodies covering the purchase of products or services that have potential negative impacts on biodiversity.

Biodiversity: sustainable procurement guidance
Specification development

Specification development

Sustainable requirements need to be incorporated into the specification and must be relevant and proportionate to the particular procurement. Current EU legislation allows environmental considerations to be included in the technical specification of a procurement. 

In the case of biodiversity procurers we should consider its relevance to the product or service in question, as well as the relevant market. Buyers should first consider whether the products or services required could be substituted before creating the specification, for example could value for money organic or sustainably produced food be specified? 

Suggested criteria may be found in the Government Buying Standards guidance (GBS) for food, horticulture and park services, wood products for construction and furniture. It is important to establish that the market for a particular product can meet these requirements before incorporating them; if using the GBS criteria, they have been tested against market capabilities.  

For example, if the buyer wishes to ensure that the biodiversity of fish species is protected the following example can be used in a specification to highlight the requirement to meet sustainability criteria. 

‘All fish are to be demonstrably sustainable with all wild-caught fish meeting the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (includes Marine Stewardship Council certification and Marine Conservation Society ‘fish to eat’).’ 

To protect native plant species within a grounds maintenance service contract the following could be used: 

‘All products and services procured should comply with the latest version of the Horticultural Code of Practice covering invasive non-native plants.’ 

A requirement could also be placed on the contractor to include insect friendly planting or wild flower areas.