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Materials security: sustainable procurement guidance

Guidance for public bodies when buying products or services from sources that are potentially vulnerable to supply disruption.

Materials security: sustainable procurement guidance

Security of materials

This guidance is concerned with the procurement of products or services from sources that are potentially vulnerable to supply disruption.

It is part of a series of guides which support the sustainable procurement duty tools to help public sector organisations embed sustainability into their procurement processes.

Materials security is intertwined with scare or unsustainable materials and these matters should be considered alongside one another. Scarce or unsustainable materials are addressed in the Scarcity of materials guidance.

Description of risk or opportunity

  • are materials contained in products or equipment supplied or used in service delivery potentially vulnerable to supply disruption or constraint?
  • are there opportunities to minimise the use of such materials and products supplied or used in service delivery? 


The risk of supply chain disruption or constraint could be as a result of supply from politically sensitive regions, a supply chain which is restricted to a limited number of suppliers or limited supply sources, or which may be affected by labour, environmental and other factors like civil unrest, crime or natural disaster. For example:

  • chemical factory fire in Germany, which controlled the bulk of the market for such chemicals
  • rare earth minerals, critical for many electronic products including ICT, disrupted due to restrictions on supply from China
  • Japanese tsunami severely affected motor industry and availability of certain parts

The availability of products or equipment that include or rely on minerals, metals, timber, plastics and water, or those including materials that are known to be scarce or unsustainable (critical raw materials (CRMs)) may be affected by such circumstances. For example materials or products used in ICT, furniture, textiles, and construction (e.g. timber, cement and stone). 

The above information is not exhaustive.

This guidance is provided to support the embedding of relevant and proportionate contract/framework requirements and the information and examples are provided in good faith. To the extent that this guidance contains any information concerning procurement law such information does not constitute advice to you.

The contents of this guidance is not to be construed as legal advice or a substitute for such advice, which you should obtain from your own legal advisers if required. Scottish Government is not and shall not be held responsible for anything done or not done by you as a result of this guidance.