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Waste production: sustainable procurement guidance

Guidance for public bodies covering the purchase of goods and services that may result in the production of waste.

Waste production: sustainable procurement guidance

Waste production

This guidance is concerned with the procurement of products or services that may result in the production of waste and minimising that waste in accordance with legal requirements.

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.

It is important that when waste risks or opportunities are identified, that the alternative options available are understood. This can be achieved through gathering market intelligence and supplier engagement.

Description of risk or opportunity

  • is waste routinely produced from products procured, or in service delivery?
  • are there opportunities to avoid/reduce greenhouse gas emissions or waste generated, or opportunities to optimise the management of waste?


Packaging, disposal of products or in service delivery (such as construction and demolition, FM services, food/catering, ICT, textiles and others may potentially generate significant waste). 

Materials where supply chain risks are emerging include copper, which can be used as a building material and in electrical wiring, and indium which is used in semi-conductors and glass.

The zero-waste approach of preventing unnecessary resource use and using resources as efficiently as possible has obvious benefits for the environment, conserving finite natural resources as well as potential for financial savings. Zero Waste Scotland categorises waste into ‘regular’ and ‘occasional’ discards and both need to be considered by the buyer.

  • regular discards - items thrown away on a daily, weekly or monthly basis i.e. paper, cardboard and plastic film from packaging, toner cartridges and light bulbs
  • occasional discards - not regularly thrown away i.e. office furniture

Public bodies should ensure that contractors apply the waste hierarchy while meeting all relevant waste regulations. See SEPA guidance on reuse activities and waste regulation for more information.

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.