Publication - Advice and guidance

Carbon in production: sustainable procurement guidance

Guidance for public bodies covering the procurement of products that are known to be energy/carbon intensive in their production.

Carbon in production: sustainable procurement guidance
Policy context

Policy context


Public procurement plays a key role in the Europe 2020 strategy, and is recognised in the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020, a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’, as one of the market based instruments to be used to achieve such growth while ensuring the most efficient use of public funds.

This has informed the new Public Procurement Directives with a view to:  

  • increase the efficiency of public spendin
  • facilitate the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • enable procurers to make better use of public procurement in support of common societal goals of: 
  1. Smart growth – developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation.
  2. Sustainable growth – promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy. Inclusive growth – fostering a high-employment economy delivering economic, social and territorial cohesion.  


Increasingly public spending is expected to deliver more and more value for money. The Scottish Government aims to imbed sustainability into and generate maximum value for local communities from its procurement activities. 

The contribution of an organisation’s procurement policy and activity is also subject to reporting requirements under revisions to the Climate Change (Reporting on Climate Change Duties) Order 2015 (Part 5). 

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) places a sustainable procurement duty on a contracting authority before they buy anything, to think about how they can – though their procurements - improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing in Scotland, with a particular focus on reducing inequality.

For example, through the appropriate use of the sustainability test (and its associated tool; the prioritisation methodology), and the application of relevant and proportionate contract requirements.

The Act also requires obligated organisations to develop a Corporate Procurement Strategy and report against its delivery at the end of each year, emphasising the importance of monitoring and reporting delivery of intended sustainable outcomes.