The challenge

With an annual procurement budget of around £175 billion, the public sector is the largest purchaser in the UK.  But often sustainability factors – such as the environmental and social impacts of the goods and services purchased – aren’t factored into spending decisions. Many procurement officers now understand the need for their decisions to support public sector sustainability goals. But knowing how to do this still remains a stumbling block.


What we did

Forum for the Future saw the need for a toolkit to help public sector buyers incorporate social and environmental factors into their decision-making processes, alongside value, resulting in benefits for end users, taxpayers and suppliers.

So, we developed the Sustainable Procurement Toolkit to help those with responsibility for spending to respond to the expectations in national health and local government sustainable procurement strategies. The toolkit was designed to help these people identify and prioritise the best opportunities for improving the sustainability on any contract or supply area, and gives guidance on how to select appropriate suppliers, develop specifications, award contracts and work with suppliers thereafter. It is based on two years of research and pilots undertaken with the health service and local government in the East Midlands as part of the BEST Procurement Programme.

In support of the toolkit, we also created a report, Buying A Better World, which explains the importance of incorporating sustainability thinking into buying decisions, and includes case studies and action planning tips for busy procurement officers.



The NHS has already piloted the toolkit and David Wathey, Sustainable Development Manager at the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, was hoping to make it available to all NHS procurement organisations at the time of writing.


Get in touch

If you have any queries, please email Anna Warrington.

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